3 Important Things to Know about Pelvic Health

Chia Chia Sun

Posted on August 03 2017

Pelvic health for women is a relatively new concept – it’s the idea that we need to maintain good health of our reproductive and urinary tracts during our entire lifetime. It’s a weighty task given that, in a study conducted by Summer’s Eve, as many as 70% of women cannot identify the 6 major parts of our own reproductive anatomy (ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, vagina, vulva, labia) while 70% could identify the male anatomy (penis, foreskin, testes).

Here are three important pelvic health concepts:

  1. Having a strong pelvic floor is key to women’s health as we age

Our pelvic floor is a group of inter-connected muscles and connective tissue that support our visceral organs: bladder, intestines, and uterus.

These muscles can be weakened or damaged after child-birth, hysterectomy and menopause. Weakened and damaged tissue can lead to prolapse, where an organ (bladder, intestine, rectum, uterus) protrudes through the vagina. We lose muscle tone as we age which exacerbates the weakening and increases the risk of incontinence and prolapse.

Ensuring that we have the right mix of strong and relaxed pelvic floor muscles is a pretty complicated effort and requires the expertise of physical therapists who are trained in this area.

Every woman I know, including myself, who has seen a pelvic health physical therapist has told me it has changed her life. I believe that having a routine pelvic health exam by a qualified professional is a must for every woman in her late 30s and beyond. You can find one here at the American Physical Therapy Association.

  1. What works in your twenties doesn’t work in your forties

Due to hormonal changes and our changing bodies, our reproductive system goes through incredible changes over a fairly short period of about 20 years. Your experiences in your twenties may be very different in your forties. Here are a few examples:

20s and 30s 40s and 50s
Common infections Yeast infections Bacterial vaginosis
Important exercises Kegels Modification of Kegels, or foregoing Kegels altogether – many women need relaxation exercises and Kegels can worsen the tightness
Period changes Stable periods Heavy flow, missed periods, spotty periods
pH of vagina 3.5 to 4.5 4.5 +++

Certain changes in our forties may actually be “the norm.” These include heavy bleeding (up to 40% of women) and uterine fibroids (up to 30% to 60% of women). With up to one-third of American women receiving a hysterectomy by age 60, it’s important to know that there are other medical options and that many hysterectomies for fibroids and/or endometriosis may be unnecessary

  1. Sex and orgasms are good for your pelvic floor

In addition to pelvic floor exercises, regular sex and orgasms can help tighten the muscles of the pelvic floor. In particular, “exercising” these muscles with movement during sex provides the ideal toning and blood flow to tissues. Stronger pelvic floor muscles may lead to better orgasms. The bonus is that the hormone release gives added benefit.

There’s still a lot we don’t know about pelvic health. But, educating ourselves about our own anatomy is a first step, And taking steps to maintain our pelvic health throughout our lives is essential to keeping vibrant as we age.

Chia Chia Sun

Chia Chia Sun

Chia Chia is a women’s health entrepreneur, CEO and taboo abolisher. Her three graduate degrees (master’s in genetics, master’s in bioethics and MBA in corporate finance) culminated in a career spent mostly in the pharmaceutical industry and now as the brains behind Damiva, a women’s health company that makes natural pharmacy products. Trained as a clinician and genetic cancer researcher, she’s an Expert at presenting data and giving risk. Chia Chia has developed expertise and a wealth of knowledge about the importance of hormonal health at every stage of life. She loves to share her knowledge and use it to break down taboos and change the ways in which we make products for women, interact in our daily relationships and portray women in media. As an invited expert to Hollywood, Health & Society -- the organization that consults to Hollywood about portrayal of medical issues -- Chia Chia’s expertise is being disseminated across the entertainment industry.

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