Up to one-third of women suffer from a weak pelvic floor at some point as they age. Your pelvic floor muscles can become weakened, overstretched, or tight like any other body muscle. Typically, the most common issues are a leaky bladder or stress incontinence caused by too much activity, sneezing, or laughing. Today we’ll discuss the many causes of a weak pelvic floor and how you may be unconsciously increasing your risk of urinary incontinence. There are many effective ways to strengthen your pelvic floor, so this isn’t something you need to just accept as your new reality. You can absolutely improve or even eliminate a leaky bladder and return to doing all the things you love.
#1: Aging Can Cause a Weak Pelvic Floor
There is nothing we can do about it. As we grow older, all of our muscles, including our pelvic floor muscles weaken. In women, this is due to a decrease in hormonal levels, especially estrogen. However, you can improve your muscle strength with the right exercises and hormone supplementation can be helpful for this as well.
#2: Not Doing Kegel Exercises
Doing pelvic floor exercises, otherwise known as Kegels, has been proven to strengthen your pelvic floor and even resolve some mild pelvic organ prolapses. However, many of us aren’t doing them correctly or forget to do them altogether.
#3: Poor Bladder Habits
We all know it’s not always convenient to go to the bathroom every time we have the urge to pee. However, if you hold it too often, then you strain your bladder and it may become atonic, where it isn’t strong enough to hold it. Going to the bathroom before you have a full bladder is harmful too because you are training your bladder to only hold a small amount of urine.
#4: Chronic Constipation
Having to strain when you’re constipated to empty your bowels causes overstretching and weakness. If your pelvic floor muscles become too relaxed, it can make your constipation worse.
#5: Post-Partum Weak Pelvic Floor
Pregnancy hormones often relax and stretch your pelvic floor beyond its limits. In addition, the excess pregnancy weight on your stomach can cause the pelvic floor muscles to loosen and even cause a pelvic organ prolapse. Having vaginal childbirth can further your risk of suffering from pelvic organ prolapses.
As you become older, your hormones often become imbalanced. As your estrogen levels drop, it causes vaginal dryness and weakened pelvic floor muscles.
#7: Increased Sugar Intake & Being Overweight
Packing extra pounds puts extra pressure on your pelvic floor. Eating too much sugar and junk food removes the elasticity from your muscles, which can leave your pelvic floor brittle.
#8: Type 2 Diabetes
While obesity is part of it, once you develop Type 2 Diabetes, it damages your nerves, which affects your bladder function. It causes weakened pelvic floor muscles and urges incontinence. It also causes a decreased bladder sensation, making it difficult for you to completely empty your bladder. In addition, you may experience nocturia, feeling the urge to pee in the middle of the night.
As you can see, many things can cause a weakened pelvic floor. Don’t despair, there are many things that can strengthen your pelvic floor, which we will discuss next time.
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