10 Signs You Have Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvic floor is a complex system of muscles, bones, tendons, ligaments and connective tissue. This support sling closes the large opening in your pelvis and supports pelvic organs so they function properly. Having a weak pelvic floor can mean many different things: incontinence, different symptoms during the month as hormones change and even difficulty doing everyday tasks.
How do you know if you have a weak pelvic floor? There are signs to watch for:
There are many things that impact the strength of your pelvic floor. Age, how your body is built, genetics, whether you have been pregnant, given birth and even your physical fitness all impact how your pelvic floor works.
To be honest, most people don’t think about their pelvic floor strength until there is a problem. The conversation about pelvic floor health usually happens after someone starts leaking urine or feeling pressure. Perhaps it doesn’t happen until full-blown incontinence results and comes up in conversation at the gynecologist’s office.
However, what we should all be watching for are signs of weakness and doing pelvic floor exercises. You wouldn’t let your legs get so weak that you can’t walk right? You would notice things before that happened that would be signs that you needed to do some strengthening or even consult a pelvic therapist for help.
Here are 10 signs you have weak pelvic floor muscles:
1. You are leaking urine
Leaking urine, or urinary incontinence, comes on many different levels. Maybe it’s just a few drops when you jump up and down, a gush when you sneeze or difficulty when you become constipated. Maybe it requires changing a few pads or perhaps it’s developed into complete incontinence where you leak all of your bladder contents.
Your pelvic floor is responsible for supporting your bladder and controlling the opening and closing of the structures that keep pee, and poop, inside. When everything is working well, you have control. When things start to develop issues leaking pee is a common sign.
2. You feel like you have go…now!!!
I am amazed at my children. My 4-year-old will wake up, avoid my prompts to use the restroom and decide to pee when he feels like he’s good and ready. His bladder is not in control! After 4 babies…when I wake up I always have to pee. In fact, it’s the first thing I do! I definitely feel more urgency than I did when I was a younger person and I long for the days I didn’t have to head to the toilet before starting the coffee pot.
Urgency can happen at any time. Maybe you feel like you have to pee and it progresses to a very strong feeling fast. You find yourself interrupting life looking for the potty and the state of your pelvic floor strength may be to blame.
3. You feel pressure in your vagina and/or rectum
Feeling pressure in your vagina and/or rectum is a sign of pelvic floor weakness. Because the pelvic floor supports the organs inside including your bladder, uterus and intestines…weakness can literally mean that they’re pushing down. This feeling may feel like heaviness or pushing down in different positions. It may be constant or come and go with certain activities.
4. There is a bulge in your vagina
When the vagina and the structures supporting the organs around it become weak they may dip into the vaginal canal making a bulge into the vaginal canal. These bulges may involve the urethra, vagina, rectum, uterus and intestines. The bulge can be in the front, back or top.
You may be told or have signs and symptoms of a prolapse including cystocele, rectocele or uterine prolapse.
5. Incomplete emptying of your bladder
When you pee, just about everything should come out. When your pelvic floor is weak the bladder may not empty all of the way. The pelvic floor muscles need to hold the bladder and nearby structures at the right angle and position for this to work. With weakness, your bladder may not completely empty. This means that you may need to go again soon, still feel like you need to pee after you’ve peed or even can stand up and sit down and pee again right after you’ve gone.
6. Pain or dullness during vaginal intercourse
With pelvic floor weakness, vaginal intercourse can be painful. Because the pelvic floor muscles are so interconnected with the vagina, uterus and literally everything surrounding them…weakness can mean pain during and/or after what should be a pleasurable experience.
While it may not be a pain so to speak, many persons do kegel and pelvic floor exercises because they report an increase in pleasure with intercourse. I’ve spoken to individuals who say their vagina felt “dull” before they started and that exercising has awakened their senses in a very sensual area.
7. Feeling like you can’t finish pooping
Weak pelvic floor muscles are very well known for their impact on urination but less discusses is their impact on bowel movements. Some people may feel like they can’t finish pooping like they are constipated even if they’re not and even have pains, unrelated to anything else, when pooping.
8. Unexplained lower back pain
Weak pelvic floor muscles can express themselves as lower back pain. Because the pelvic floor muscles attach to the bones in the pelvis and lower abdomen, weakness and imbalance can cause lower back pain.
9. Pelvic pain or Pain in the Genitals or Rectum
While there are many things that can cause pelvic pain including endometriosis, weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to pelvic pain as well. If the organs of your pelvis aren’t supported properly or something is pulling, overcompensating or you are unknowingly moving in a way that helps compensate for weakness…pain may result.
10 You are reading an article titled “10 Signs You Have Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles”
Not to be funny…but the other day a friend shared a post on Facebook that said “top signs you are overworked and burned out” and I said…sign #1 is that you are reading and sharing an article with this title! That’s the truth. Chances are, if you clicked on an article with this title you are searching to confirm something you already suspect. You know your body best!
Do these signs sound like you? What can you do?
I try my best to do pelvic floor exercises, remember to use my yoni eggs and kegel away with my exerciser. However, there is professional help for pelvic floor weakness. Your practitioner can refer you to see a physical or occupational therapist who specializes in strengthening and pelvic floor training. Some are even so specialized that they can insert and monitor your vaginal strength with a special device made for this reason.
Do not feel alone. Pelvic floor weakness is very common. Some estimate that up to 30% of people with a uterus over 30 have some pelvic floor issues and I very strongly feel as though we have to talk more openly about our pelvic health and that doctors and nurses need to ask more questions and give out better and more helpful information when it comes to our pelvis.
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This article in no way attempts to provide an individual diagnosis or diagnose or treat any conditions. If you feel as though you are in need of individualized care please seek out your medical professional. I’m not saying they’ll be any help, I’ve had some terrible doctors over the years but hopefully, yours is better than some of the ones I’ve encountered! I have a wonderful gyn now and I hope she never retires!