Why we do Kegels: Pelvic floor muscles problems

The purpose of me writing this article is twofold.   (1) if you don’t have these problems yet, you can learn from this and (2) if you are experiencing (or have experienced) these problems, we can share stories and help one another.   I am in the second category, so I am also looking for help and advice as well.

Being the oldest of the three remaining CN Sisters, I get the privilege of getting to experience a few things first (not all…lol)   Over the past 9 months, I have been told that my pelvic floor muscles are getting very weak, and I now have times when my bowels protrude into my vagina.   But let me back up a bit and give you some information on what your pelvic floor muscles are and what they do.

Your pelvic floor  muscles are there to hold your pelvic organs in place.  They resemble a hammock and are at the base of your pelvis.   There are two main muscle layers, a deep muscle layer and a superficial muscle layer.  These muscles work together to help keep your organs in place and functioning properly.   Just like any muscular area of your body, exercising them helps to keep them functioning properly.  Kegel exercises are a great way to exercise these muscles.  I will get into that later in the article.

These muscles can also weaken over time when not exercised properly or from other causes such as pregnancy and childbirth,  being overweight, age, a chronic cough, or by a genetic predisposition to weak muscles.   For myself, the birth of a 9# baby with an extremely long episiotomy, being overweight for a long period of time after that, a second pregnancy (7# baby) and my age probably have a lot to do with my current condition.    Well, and probably also the fact that I have never been particularly good (or patient at) doing Kegel exercises.

So when these muscles weaken, they can cause pelvic organs to fall.   If the bladder falls, a condition called cystocele occurs, which is the falling or prolapse of the bladder.   In this case, the bladder bulges into the vaginal area.  Rectocele is where the rectum walls become weakened and protrude into the vaginal area.   An enterocele is where the small intestines protrude into the vaginal area.   Lastly is the uterine prolapse, where the uterus descends into the vaginal area.    I have linked each of these names to a corresponding article at mayoclinic.com so that you can read further into these 4 problems that can occur in the pelvic area.  I can tell you from personal experience that this in not a very comfortable situation to be in, and I wish I had paid more attention to doing Kegel exercises.   I am now researching to see if it is too late to start regaining strength in these muscles or if it is gone for good and I will need surgical help to repair any damage.

Let me move on to Kegel exercises.   What are they?  These exercises were named after  Dr. Arnold Kegel.  These exercise help strengthen and can help the blood circulate better to your pelvic regions.  In order to do Kegels, you first need to locate the correct muscles in which to exercise.   Next time you need to urinate, try to stop the flow of your urine.  If you do so successfully, you have found your pelvic floor muscles.   Another way to locate them is to stick one finger in your vagina, and try to squeeze the surrounding muscles.  You will feel your vagina tighten and your pelvic floor muscles move up.  When you relax,  you will feel the vagina relax and the pelvic floor muscles drop.  Once you’ve located the right muscles, let the kegels begin!  Start by contracting your pelvic floor muscles and hold for 3 second, then relax for three seconds.  Do this 10x.  Once you are comfortable doing it for three seconds, move on to 4 second hold and 4 second release.   Try to work up to 10 second hold and a 10 second release.  This won’t all happen on your first time!  You need to keep up with this, like I wish I had.  You will need to try to do these exercises 3x a day.

Note: Once you find the right muscles to use for Kegels, it is not recommended as a frequent practice to stop urination this way because it increases the frequency of UTIs.

As for my problems, I won’t know for sure until I go for my second opinion.  Even though the term hasn’t been used by my primary doctor, I am sure I have a rectocele.   If that is the case, a pessary can be inserted by a health care professional or surgery can be done to repair the weakness between the vagina and rectal walls by using either stitches or a mesh net to hold the organs in place.

My own doctor has mentioned the word “hysterectomy” to me for this…while I don’t understand why yet, I am waiting to see if the second opinion suggests this as well.  If so, I will definitely ask then.   I have found a website that has helped me a great deal to prepare for if this is to occur.  It is called Hyster Sisters.  While it isn’t a total Christian site, there is a section for prayer requests and I have found some Christian sisters on that site that are praying for me as well.

If I had to go back and do it all over again, I would have been doing Kegels since I was pregnant with my first.   But I have to make good with what I have now.  I will start trying to do Kegels again so that maybe I can get some strength back in my pelvic floor muscles.  If you don’t do these daily, please start doing them.  They will help you out so much in the long run.

If you have ever experienced problems such as this and you wish to comment or offer advice below, I know myself as well as others might appreciate the support.

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