How do I know if I have weak pelvic muscles?
Let's talk about signs your lady parts could use a boost.
Before getting into details about signals of a weak pelvic floor, we want to make it clear that it is totally commonplace for women to have weakened pelvic floor muscles. What are the pelvic floor muscles? They are an intricate architecture of muscles that comprise the anus, perineum, and vagina.
All it takes to weaken these muscles is doing the stuff of everyday life: high-impact sport, giving birth, gaining weight, chronic cough, prolonged inactivity, and if you make it through all of that, chances are menopause will do it.
How common is this issue?
Banish the idea it is a 'little old lady' problem! 3 out of 4 women have weakened pelvic muscles and for most it starts in their 20's and 30's.
Moral of the story: your muscles naturally weaken at any age, but they also naturally respond quickly to targeted exercise at any age.
Okay. So what are the signs you should be aware of? There is quite a wide range of issues you could be experiencing. Let's break it down:
Signs of Incontinence
Here are some examples of how leakage may slowly be taking over your life: Do avoid exercise like jumps and squats? Do you have to use special tricks and techniques to avoid leakage when playing sports or running? Does a good hard laugh, cough, or sneeze make you tinkle? Are you purposely dehydrating, or going to the bathroom often, to try to control leaks? Are you using menstrual pads daily, even when not menstruating, to try to catch leaks? Do you wear only dark clothes to hide accidents? Do you have to change clothes often? Have you been avoiding dancing and concerts? Do you find it a problem to go to events where you will be forced to sit for a couple of hours without an easy and elegant exit to a restroom? Do you avoid staying overnight at someone's house? Do you avoid travel? Do you avoiding dating because you can't imagine how to explain the leakage to your date?
Do you in general find it increasingly difficult to manage the 'when and where' of tiny accidents? If this has started, it will most likely get worse until you intentionally start to target those pelvic muscles and strengthen them.
Signs of Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Most women have no idea these organs are slowly descending until a doctor mentions it; usually followed by, "Hey, let's do surgery" suggestion by the doctor. Or if you don't see a doctor often enough, it may be when the organ drops out of the body for it to be finally noticeable.
The earliest sign you may notice is a feeling of heaviness or fullness in the vagina. Your sexual partner could possibly notice the organs collapsing into the canal before you do. You can also check yourself for the tell-tale bulging of an organ collapsing into the canal. Ask your doctor if she can notice "1st or 2nd degree prolapse" which are the first two stages that are hard for a woman to notice on her own. It is a good idea to catch organ prolapse in the early stages as pelvic muscle strengthening is known to treat 1st and 2nd degree prolapse and prevent prolapse from occurring.
Signs of Sexual Dysfunction
Laxity or looseness of the vaginal opening and canal. We know from medical studies that 48% of women are worried about the vagina becoming loose after giving birth. This is not in itself a form of sexual dysfunction, but sometimes women become so worried about laxity, that it creates problems with their sexual confidence that results in dysfunction. For example, if you avoid intimacy because of feelings of shame, or if your worry keeps you from being able to 'let go' and enjoy yourself during intimacy.
Vaginal dryness and an inability to self-lubricate even when aroused. The sign for this would be the need for application of artificial lubricants. If you are reaching for oil, lube, or saliva to have successful vaginal penetration and vaginal intercourse, then you are not lubricating naturally. Few people are aware of the connection between vaginal atrophy and vaginal dryness, so women do not often turn to pelvic muscle toning exercise to boost lubrication, but strengthening pelvic muscle works effectively by addressing the root cause of the dryness.
Orgasm dysfunction. This can take several forms. The most common forms due to pelvic muscles weakness are (1) the loss of the ability to climax (2) ever decreasing intensity of climax (3) ever increasing difficulty to achieve climax (4) limited situations in which climax can be achieved.