Okay, so maybe some of this advice didn’t directly come from your mother, but some of this is some misinformation that has been passed down and around in discreet talk between mothers and daughters or between friends. Here are some things that are outdated, downright wrong, or just isn’t quite the best advice.
“Oh you pee when you sneeze? Welcome to motherhood!”
What a welcome into motherhood, am I right? It’s like mothers getting together and complaining about their woes of how their bodies aren’t working right is almost a badge of honor to carry around. Now, don’t get me wrong, I fully support talking about problems with urinary leakage. We’ve got to get the conversation out there and normalize talking about women’s health issues, but in doing that, we don’t want to normalize the symptoms! We just want to normalize bringing it up, feeling comfortable asking your health provider for a solution, and seeking a specialist who can help. This doesn’t have to be your initiation into motherhood and something that you just “live with”. And for that matter, some women leak pee, but haven’t had children, so it’s not necessarily just a motherhood issue. So if you hear someone laugh about it, brush it off as a symptom of being a mother or getting older or lifting heavy weights, let them know you’ve heard pelvic floor physical therapy can help with this! You’re never “too far gone” to work on this.
“Do your Kegels!”
Sometimes people are scared into doing Kegels, or pelvic floor muscle contractions, because they have been told scary things like they will need surgery if they don’t or their uterus or bladder will fall out if they don’t. And then things swing in the opposite direction! People are so scared of something bad happening that they do hundreds of Kegels a day. Let me explain why that isn’t necessarily helpful. First, up to 80% of women who think they are doing a Kegel correctly are actually doing it wrong. So first, you need to get assessed to make sure you are actually contracting those muscles properly. Second, some issues of the pelvic floor need lengthening in the muscles not shortening and constant tension. Third, the pelvic floor muscles are primarily designed to be endurance muscles, so just doing quick contractions, one right after the other, isn’t necessarily training the muscles in the right way and isn’t very functional. So while a Kegel in and of itself is not a bad thing, the advice of “do your Kegels” just isn’t comprehensive enough and invokes fear! We don’t want you to be afraid, we are here to educate you and help you feel in control of your muscles and deep core.
“You just have a small bladder just like me and your grandmother.”
How many times have you heard this? Women are kind of known for peeing more frequently, right? Ever hear people complain about road trips with mom, grandmother, or Aunt so-and-so? “We have to stop every hour so they can pee, she must have a small bladder!” Eh, probably not a bladder size issue. This is a urinary frequency issue, and it can be retrained! It’s a matter of re-circuiting the communication between the bladder, the pelvic floor muscles, the nerves, and the brain. Neuroplasticity, or relearning things that change our brain, is so cool! And you don’t have to just live with a “small bladder” or explain your urinary frequency by the fact that you drink a lot of water. If you always have to know where the bathroom is everywhere you go or you have to visit the bathroom as soon as you arrive anywhere, you can be freed of this!
“Just relax and have a glass of wine first.”
It’s a frequently talked about thing that sex often hurts for women, at least during the first couple times. And to some degree, it is somewhat normal to expect some discomfort during initial vaginal penetration for the first time, but a lot of this comes by way of fear and expectation of pain because of how our culture talks about pain with sex. But pain with sex should NOT continue, and certainly the advice to solve pain with sex should not be recommending consumption of alcohol. This advice is probably the one that infuriates me the most. As a provider of women’s healthcare, the last thing we want to encourage is for a woman to drown her fears, anxieties, and pain away with a mind-altering beverage. We want for women to feel present, comfortable, and safe during an intimate relationship with their partner. So having a glass of wine isn’t the answer here! But seeing a pelvic floor physical therapist can be a great place to be assessed and know that you can speak freely about your pain, fears, and anxieties.
Okay, so were you surprised that you’ve heard some of these before and maybe thought they were true? The way our society talks about women’s health issues can be dangerous to women in that it can prevent women from seeking the care that they deserve. So let’s be a part of changing the paradigm and spreading the world and stopping the “bad vagina advice” out there. A pelvic floor physical therapist is here to help!
If you are interested in a FREE phone consultation with a women’s health professional, call us today at 864-236-8146