What is Pelvic Health?
Have you ever heard the term “pelvic health?” Do you know what it means and why It’s important? Medical fields such as urology and gynecology might come to mind—and they are undoubtedly critical to pelvic health—but it’s much more than that.
Beyond the medical fields, pelvic health more broadly refers to the holistic well-being of the pelvis and it’s parts. This includes your uterus, bladder, bowels, vagina, pelvic bones and joints, as well as the network of muscles and connective tissue that hold them up and help them function. Major blood vessels and nerves also pass through the pelvis and interplay with everything else. Your upper half and lower half connect at the pelvis, so its well-being has a significant impact just about everywhere. It is truly the grand central station of the body! When you hear people talking about pelvic health, they mean this big, holistic picture.
How Does Pregnancy Affect Pelvic Health?
Pregnancy and delivery take place primarily within our pelvis and pelvic organs, so our pelvic health is heavily affected–and disrupted–by pregnancy and birth in very obvious, physiological ways. It affects us more subtly as well. For instance, as your uterus grows during pregnancy, it places stress on the muscles and ligaments that support it. The stress placed on those tissues can lead to issues such as incontinence (the leaking of urine or feces), pelvic organ prolapse (when the pelvic muscles and connective tissue are too weak to hold the pelvic organs in position), sexual dysfunction (pain during intercourse/difficulty with orgasm), and pain in or around the pelvis and connected areas. The stress of delivery—difficult labor, perineal tearing, and/or trauma from surgery—can also impact our pelvic health and lead to similar issues.
Where Do We Come In?
Doctors, physical therapists, and yes even prenatal & postnatal yoga instructors all play a role in supporting your pelvic health in pregnancy and postpartum, albeit in very different capacities! Doctors and midwives, of course, are the primary caregivers for your medical pelvic health in pregnancy and beyond. Physical therapists can diagnose and treat injuries and conditions like the prolapse and incontinence we discussed above. As trained prenatal & postnatal yoga instructors, and as certified pelvic health fitness specialists, our speciality is designing classes that support the well-being of the pelvis and it’s parts in a general way using focused exercises, yoga postures, breathing techniques, relaxation and more. We can also field questions you may have about your pelvic health, and direct you to the proper professional if your needs are outside our scope of practice.
Truly every person will have some effect on their pelvic health as they navigate pregnancy, birth, and postpartum. And while this is only scratching the surface of a complex field, we hope we’ve given you information to understand the basics and advocate for yourself if you suspect you may need intervention from a professional (most do!). Too many women suffer silently with pelvic symptoms simply because they don’t understand what’s happening to their bodies or don’t know where to turn. There is help! Please let us know if you have any questions. We hope to see you in class soon!