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7 Natural Ways to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

While nearly 25 percent of women experience problems such as incontinence and frequent urination, natural options for strengthening these muscles abound. Since pelvic floor muscles tend to weaken with age, these issues are likely to worsen without attention. Weakened pelvic floor muscles can negatively affect both your sex life and your laundry load. Here are seven natural ways to refurbish your pelvic floor.

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1. Kegels

Free and easy, Kegels are the classic method for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. Simply squeeze as if you were trying to stop peeing. Hold for a few seconds, then release and repeat. If it’s hard to make time in your day for this, you might try regular reminders like setting an alarm on your phone or Kegeling every time you’re at a stoplight. Variations of Kegels include slowly contracting your muscles (imagine your vagina as a slow-rising elevator) and increasing the amount of time you hold the squeeze for.

2. Spicy Kegels

My physical therapist recommended I do “spicy Kegels,” (my nickname, not hers) where you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles around a vibrator or vaginal cone. This gives your vagina something to concentrate on—and let’s face it, there are less pleasant ways to spend your time.

When my physical therapist told me that people with healthy pelvic floors only pee once every 3 to 4 hours, I was (pelvic) floored.

3. Limit coffee and other bladder-maddening beverages

I know that for many of us, our coffee intake is non-negotiable. So start small—I started by downsizing from 4 cups of the dark nectar to 3 ½ per day. Other drinks like orange juice, soda and even tea can also agitate the bladder, increasing the urge to pee, so be mindful of your intake of these drinks as well.

4. But don’t dehydrate!

When you’re worried about having to pee all the time, it’s natural to think that drinking less water is a good idea. Unfortunately, this method will backfire. Dehydration makes for more concentrated urine—think Gatorade-hued pee. This concentrated urine aggravates the bladder, and an angry bladder may have muscle spasms (shaking with rage because it’s thirsty) that replicate the urge to pee. Backfire. Keep sipping that water.

5. Limit triggering foods

Our bladders aren’t only affected by what we imbibe. Citrus foods, spicy foods, alcohol, chocolate (NOOOO!), tomatoes and other foods also can irritate the bladder, causing you to feel like you need to pee more often.

6. Bladder training

While it sounds like potty training for grown-ups, bladder training consists of peeing only at predetermined times. Over time, practice waiting longer and longer in between urinating; when my physical therapist told me that people with healthy pelvic floors only pee once every 3 to 4 hours, I was (pelvic) floored. Bladder training also uses urge suppression techniques, like distraction, deep breathing or a series of rapid-fire Kegels to relax the muscles around the bladder when the urge to pee arises between scheduled potty breaks.

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7. Pelvic floor rehab

If your pelvic floor issues are seriously impacting your life, consider consulting with a physical therapist specializing in pelvic floor issues. While I initially imagined a room filled with tiny, vagina-sized barbells, pelvic floor therapists are specially trained to assess your individual situation and create a program to help. Pelvic floor rehab may include massage, bladder training, specially designed exercises and biofeedback. One of the benefits of rehab is that your therapist will assess your unique body, potentially finding other physiological reasons for your pelvic floor issues, such as muscular tension in the abdomen or thighs.

Like any other muscles, the pelvic floor muscles can get stronger with practice. Give your PF a little love and try some of these tips.

Image via Twenty20

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