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A guide to women's pelvic health

Young beautiful woman with cup of coffee, wears a green sweater, looks away at home.

At Benenden Hospital, we have an experienced team of Continence Care specialists who can support you if you’re struggling with urinary incontinence after giving birth or as a result of menopausal changes.

What is pelvic health?

Pelvic health is achieved through strong pelvic floor muscles. Both men and women have pelvic floor muscles which are located at the bottom of the pelvic bone and they support your pelvic and reproductive organs – your bladder, bowel and uterus (in women).

Maintaining pelvic health through strengthening exercises, or other factors is essential at any age, however, it is especially important if you’re pregnant, have given birth or are going through the stages of the menopause. When pelvic floor muscles are weakened, they can create problems with bladder and bowel control. This can result in a decline in your mental, social or sexual wellbeing.

Our expert Urogynaecology Consultant, Mr Gupta, can also diagnose and treat symptoms of pelvic organ, urinary or vaginal prolapse and chronic pelvic pain. Many women don’t know the importance of pelvic health so read on to feel empowered with our key insights.

What is urogynaecology?

Urogynaecology is a subspecialty of Gynaecology. It covers services that provide assessment, investigations and treatment for women with urinary incontinence, vaginal prolapse, recurrent urinary tract infections, bladder pain and pelvic floor injury after childbirth, including faecal incontinence.

Pregnancy and childbirth vs. pelvic health

In recent years, the importance of supporting women’s health through all stages of life has been prevalent in the media and healthcare campaigns. However, an often forgotten area of female health is urogynaecology. Last year, the Department of Health and Social Care released a nationwide plan for the National pelvic health service to support women with pelvic health after childbirth.

The plan revealed that one in three women experience urinary incontinence three months after pregnancy and around one in twelve women report symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse. Moving forward, women will be educated properly about pelvic health problems pre and post-natal.

Menopause vs. pelvic health

As oestrogen levels drop at the time of the perimenopause and menopause, this can affect your pelvic floor health as the supporting tissues that hold your pelvic organs in place start to thin. Many don’t know these pelvic symptoms of menopause or are misguided myths surrounding pelvic disorders and yet they affect over half of women and can cause discomfort and anxiety:

  • A weakening pelvic floor can cause stress incontinence (leaking urine) which affects you when you cough, sneeze, run, jump or do vigorous exercise
  • A heavy feeling in your vagina, is often a symptom of pelvic organ prolapse. It can feel like you’re sitting on an egg.
  • Pain during sex, as frequent urinary tract infections caused by vaginal dryness can result in itching and soreness
  • Having a frequent or urgent need to pee (urge incontinence) is caused by an overactive bladder
  • Constipation is a common symptom of pelvic organ prolapse

How can women maintain good pelvic health?

Lifestyle changes

Shedding extra body fat, preventing constipation through consuming more fruits and vegetables, fiber, and water, and seeking treatment for a persistent cough. These actions can help alleviate added pressure on your pelvic floor muscles.

Pelvic floor exercises

Pelvic floor exercises, also known as ‘kegel’ exercises are the best way to strengthen and firm your pelvic floor muscles which can help to reduce any leakages. If you’ve ever been holding in the need to pee for a long time and you’ve clenched your pelvic floor to stop any leaking urine, this is the technique to replicate for these exercises.

Squeezing and relaxing these muscles repeatedly throughout the day will slowly but surely improve your pelvic health. It can take months to achieve better pelvic health so be patient and access the support you need.

We’ve put together a guide of tried and tested exercises to improve your pelvic floor muscles and discuss the benefits of doing them regularly.

Speak to our Urogynaecology experts

Jan Chaseley is our Nurse Specialist in continence care and she’s here to help you take care of your pelvic health. Please don’t feel embarrassed by any of the difficult symptoms you’re experiencing; our Urogynaecology experts will speak to you in a discreet, relaxing environment.

Take the first step to pelvic empowerment by contacting our Private Patient team on 01580 363158, or to discuss what treatments we offer contact us via LiveChat on our website or complete our online enquiry form.

Published on 05 April 2024