Christian women, are you paying attention to your pelvic and sexual health??
Attention Married Christian wives and mommas!
Are you uncomfortable discussing incontinence, painful sex or lackluster sex, pelvic or what feels like bladder pain?
Have you accepted pressure in your vagina and the possible protruding of organs as just, “part of mom life” or the “aging process”?
Are you afraid to ask your girlfriends, “Is this normal?”
Are you nervous that your spouse might consider you “broken”, “damaged”, “old” or “defective”?
Do you accept these discomforts as part of the sacrifice of motherhood?
Are you afraid that as a Christian woman, wanting to actually enjoy sex is wrong?
Many married women that are not mommas experience pain during sex and are afraid to discuss it with or even admit it to their partners, but it’s preventing them from fully enjoying and being comfortable with sex.
Culturally, it’s not always talked about and so they are avoiding intimacy and quietly wondering, “What’s wrong with me?”
Many married mommas are uncomfortable having sex after baby or uncomfortable in their bodies (not knowing when you are going to leak. ) which also makes them reluctant to engage in intimate activities.
Sometimes because sex isn’t enjoyable for them or their sexual needs have changed after babies.
Pressure in the vagina caused by organs can shift after pregnancy and birth and this can make sex uncomfortable OR can make one uncomfortable, leave you feeling less than sexy.
It can also make certain positions less enjoyable than they used to be.
If this is you, YOU’RE NOT alone!
I write this article because sometimes in Christian culture we don't hear enough about women’s health.
Sure there are conferences that are focused on helping couples re-connect, spice up their love life, prioritize intimacy, BUT how often are women coming into your women’s group and saying,
”Let’s talk about your pelvic floor health and how it’s impacting the quality of not just sex, but your life!??”
Well I’m here, a Christian momma of three kiddos, married 10 years and a strength coach and pelvic health advocate that THERE ARE SOLUTIONS!!!
What you are experiencing are symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction and possible pelvic organ prolapse.
These things are extremely COMMON!
Pelvic floor dysfunction means that the core/foundation of your core is not activating and relaxing in the ways that it’s meant to.
It maybe TOO active.
It maybe TOO inactive..
But with breath work, shifting in movement mechanics, and practice, we can change that!
Pelvic organ prolapse means that one or more of your pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and rectum) have shifted out of place due to lack of support by the muscles the pelvic floor and stretching of ligaments, etc.
There are different degrees of this shifting, but all forms of prolapse can be improved with pelvic floor physical therapy, and again changes in the breathing and movement patterns we use throughout our day!
If you have symptoms of an OVERACTIVE, pelvic floor-
gripping of the abdominals
gripping of the glutes
shallow chest breathing
pain during intercourse
difficulty achieving orgasm
difficulty inserting tampon
incontinence-especially stress (leaking during a sneeze, jump, cough)
tight, immobile hips
Then you MAY need some manual release by a pelvic floor physical therapist.
You may also need additional foreplay, lubrication, relaxation, communication and the building of trust (so you can relax) during sex.
You DEFINITELY need to spend time breaking the habit of sucking in your belly.
You need to work on your breath and practice nice full deep diaphragmatic inhales.
You may also need to take a second look at your diet and gut health-inflammation and a history of Candida overgrowth can cause the pelvic floor to tighten.
If you have symptoms of pelvic floor that does not activate as needed OR prolapse
incontinence (stress or urge)
frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate
incomplete voiding of the bladder
a weak feeling, lack of support at the bottom of your core
low back pain
pressure in your vagina
difficulty fully eliminating stool or contipation
shallow chest breathing
feeling like you’re sitting on a ball
something protruding in your vagina
difficulty achieving orgasm
Then you should see a pelvic floor physical therapist to be evaluated!
If any of your organs are prolapsed, it’s good to know what you’re dealing with and how you need to progress activities.
If you’re struggling to ACTIVATE your pelvic floor, having a PT palpate the muscles and teach you a full pelvic floor contraction (not just squeezing your vagina) can be very helpful!
And here’s the kicker, you can have BOTH prolapse AND a hypertonic pelvic floor.
Trust me, I know from personal experience and so therapy and rehab needs to account for BOTH these conditions, but don’ t worry, we can work with that!
Let me caution you!
Going to see your OB and chat with them about these issues is in most cases NOT the best course of action.
OB GYN’s are neither trained to diagnose prolapse or pelvic floor issues, NOR are they often aware of the most progressive information available on pelvic floor dysfunction or prolapse!
IF your OB insists on ONLY sending you to a URO-GYN, that is a surgeon that surgically repairs pelvic floor and bladders, etc.
They often do NOT understand the benefits of PT and are very surgically minded.
Not all of them, but MANY of them.
Even some pelvic floor physical therapists can sometimes use language or methods that are OUTDATED.
They can prescribe kegels alone (not good enough) or be insensitive in explaining to you the changes that have occurred in your body.
They aren’t always the best about delivering messages of hope.
But all that being said, we have to make the most of the system that is at our disposal.
Getting an evaluation from someone in person can be very helpful.
You can ask your OB to refer you to a PT, you can Google a local one yourself, or you can reach out to me and I will do my best to find you one.
A diagnosis is not a static thing.
With awareness, intentional practice and training, symptoms improve.
And if you don’t like the PT or feel like they are not serving your needs, you have other options!
I for example, teach women how to rehab their pelvic floors and create healthy pelvic and breathing habits for daily life and in fitness!
But trust me, you need to take some action and NOT settle for a subpar quality of life because…
-women around you are settling/ignoring
-you feel guilty about spending time and money on this
-no one you know is talking about it
-ignorance isn’t bliss, but it does feel safer today than finding out what is actually going on
-you think this will eventually go away or you’ll adjust.
I am a mom of 3 and was diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse and pelvic floor dysfunction 3 years ago.
I did not have a positive experience with my physical therapist (but there are MANY wonderful ones out there, don’t despair).
After a few sessions she decided I wasn’t making enough progress and began talking about surgery.
I left that appointment and never looked back, not because surgery is the worst thing in the world, but because I KNEW that there must be other options for my healing than what was being provided there.
And so I spent a year studying the pelvic floor, trying all sorts of strategies and working to improve my pelvic floor health, reduce my prolapse symptoms.
I even figured out how to train for a VERY challenging and physically demanding kettlebell certification (RKC) after being told that I probably wouldn’t be able to lift more than 10lbs.
I have since spent 2 years educating women about their pelvic floors and how to have healthy pelvic habits.
I want you to have access to the BEST information about your pelvic floor.
I want you to find healing.
And I’m sorry to say that many medical professionals are NOT going to always give you the best information.
BUT there are many many many physical therapists, coaches and pelvic health experts out there like myself, that can support you!
What you need to do FIRST is ask yourself three questions:
Do I have any of these symptoms or thoughts that Sarah is describing?
Do I trust that there are solutions?
Am I ready to take action?
Next! If you need to work on RELAXING or ACTIVATING your pelvic floor, I recommend starting with daily diaphragmatic breathing.
Really focusing on that full inhale and exhale.
Check out my 3 video series on this!
I can’t not stress this enough, your OB is NOT a substitute for a pelvic floor physical therapist.
I have BARELY scratched the surface here.
You can search also my page for other articles on the pelvic floor!
Sarah Smith is a personal trainer, level two Russian Kettlebell Instructor, postnatal fitness specialist and pelvic floor and gut health advocate with a Masters in Agricultural Science.
She works online and in Raleigh, North Carolina.
Sarah specializes in helping women online and in-person feel strong, confident and capable in their bodies!
She is a mom to three boys and one English Bulldog. She loves soil, coffee and not folding laundry. Come follow her on Instagram or Facebook.