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Are you ready to clench for a cause? #PelvicFloorFace

Up to a third of all women experience a problem with their pelvic floor muscles at some time during their life.

Pelvic floor problems might not be the most obvious menopause symptom, but they can be aggravated during menopause. Pelvic floor exercises are important any age, but especially so during menopause. Our friends at Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy have provided the following information to help you improve your pelvic floor.

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What are pelvic floor muscles?

Up to a third of all women experience a problem with their pelvic floor muscles at some time during their life.

The pelvic floor muscles lie across the base of your pelvis to help keep the pelvic organs – bladder, uterus and bowel – in the correct position.

A strong pelvic floor isn’t just for your sex life, it can help you stop peeing when you sneeze or laugh, and give you the freedom to trampoline again (as well as helping to prevent other health conditions).

Why do problems occur with the pelvic floor muscles?

The pelvic floor muscles can be weak, overstretched, slow to work, too tight or torn just like the other muscles of your body.

Pregnancy or childbirth, chronic constipation, heavy or repeated lifting, high impact exercise, being overweight and smoking can all cause problems the pelvic floor muscles.

Vaginal changes after menopause may make pelvic floor problems worse.

Finding your pelvic floor muscles

It is important to get the right muscles working in the right way.

Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind and urine at the same time; drawing the pelvic floor muscles upwards and forwards from the back passage towards the bladder.

You may feel a lifting up and tightening as your muscles contract. Try not to hold your breath; breathe in through your nose, then breathe out through your mouth.

Improving your pelvic floor muscles

Pelvic floor muscle exercises (sometimes called Kegels) should include long as well as short, quick squeezes. You should work the muscles until they tire and do the exercises regularly to help the muscles become stronger and more effective.

Long squeezes

Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold them, then release and let them fully relax. How long can you hold the squeeze?

Repeat the process and hold until the pelvic floor muscles tire. How many times can you repeat the squeezes?

Short squeezes

Quickly tighten your pelvic floor muscles, then immediately let them go again. How many times can you do this quick squeeze before the muscles get tired?

Aim to be able to do 10 long squeezes, holding each squeeze for 10 seconds, followed by 10 short squeezes.