Most of us don't think about our pelvic floors until the bottom drops out, so to speak. When there’s a problem with the sheet of muscle that forms the base of the pelvic cavity, life-disrupting and unpleasant symptoms can result, including leaking or difficulty urinating, below-the-belt pain or discomfort, trouble controlling or moving the bowels, and frequent urinary tract infections. And even though pelvic floor disorders are more common in women, men can develop them, too.
Here are 4 strategies for getting ahead of the problem.
1.Talk with your healthcare provider.Talking with your healthcare provider is a crucial first step toward living without pain, discomfort, or the fear of accidents. The problem won’t go away on its own, and if left untreated, it may get worse. Your healthcare provider can identify the cause of your symptoms and find treatments
2.Strengthen your pelvic floor. Strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor may relieve or reduce symptoms. Unlike other types of strength-training exercises, however, it can be hard to tell whether you are doing pelvic floor muscle exercises, or Kegels, correctly. A physical therapist or healthcare provider can make sure you are working the right muscles to get results
3.Take it easy. You may be able to reduce your symptoms by taking care not to place excessive downward pressure on the pelvic floor. Here’s how:
Avoid straining during bowel movements. Eat more fiber-rich foods and stay hydrated.
When exercising, choose low-impact cardio activities, such as walking and swimming.
Try to lose any extra pounds to help reduce your symptoms.
4.Make leaks less likely
If urinary incontinence (the involuntary passing of urine) is one of your symptoms, there are lifestyle changes you can make that may help:
Avoid bladder-irritating foods and drinks, including those containing caffeine and artificial sweeteners.
Limit drinking excessive fluids but stay hydrated. Ask your health care provider how much fluid you need each day.
If you smoke, quit. Chemicals in cigarette smoke may irritate the bladder, and chronic coughing places excess strain on the pelvic floor muscles.
Try bladder training by emptying your bladder at regular intervals. Talk with your health care provider about a bladder training program that is right for you.