Debunking the “Loose” Pelvis Myth
Let’s talk about having a ‘loose’ pelvis. Unfortunately, even in this day and age this is something that women are told to expect post childbirth or post menopause and as much as I find this infuriating, we clearly still have some debunking to do. First we will talk about the pelvic floor changes that happen along with childbirth and menopause and at the end of the post there are some tips if you’re worried about your pelvic floor strength.
During childbirth, it is true that the pelvic floor muscles stretch up to 4x their natural length, however this is largely due to the hormonal surges that occur during labor/birth. Therefore, when that hormonal surge stops and as women recover from birth, the pelvic floor returns to its usual resting state. I have seen many women at six weeks postpartum, and a lot of those women need to work on strengthening their pelvic floor, but none of them have a ‘loose’ or ‘gaping’ pelvis.
During menopause, it is true that the strength and tone of the pelvic floor muscles change. This is because estrogen has a large impact on the strength of the pelvic floor, and as estrogen levels drop during menopause there can be a shift in the strength in the pelvic floor. But let me be clear, low strength does NOT equal loose. Again, I’ve seen many women in the post menopause period, and none of them have a ‘loose’ or ‘gapping’ pelvis.
Here’s Why This Is Harmful
The idea that women need to constantly ‘tighten’ their pelvic floor in order to prevent it becoming loose can do more harm to the pelvic floor muscles than good. Since we’ve already established that having a ‘loose’ pelvis isn’t really a thing, this isn’t necessarily in the first place. But if someone feels that they need to tighten their pelvis and are always clenching their pelvis, they can actually create tension in the pelvic floor muscles.
Having tension in the pelvic floor muscles can lead to things like pain in the pelvis, heaviness, leaking, discomfort in the low back and hips, constipation, painful sex and so much more. For more information about a tight pelvic floor, check out this blog post.
So not only does telling women their pelvis is ‘loose’ harm their self-esteem and confidence in their bodies, it may inadvertently create tension in the pelvic floor which can very negatively impact the pelvic floor and pelvic health.
Here’s What You Should do Instead
If you’re concerned about your pelvic health and feel that you might be lacking strength, which is common and not synonymous with ‘loose’ here are a few things to consider:
Focus on strength training. Strengthening your arms/legs and generally conditioning your body can actually improve the strength in your pelvic floor
See a pelvic floor physiotherapist. Getting an assessment with a pelvic floor physiotherapist can be a great way to assess the health of your pelvic floor and determine whether or not you need strengthening, relaxation exercises or both.
Focus on other aspects of your pelvic health; get yourself pooping every day, stay hydrated, and don’t push to pee. All of these habits may seem small but having good bowel and bladder habits can reduce strain on your pelvic floor, which over time allows you to maintain your strength.
Unclench your belly, bum and jaw; Again, constant clenching directs a lot of pressure down onto the pelvic floor which can weaken the muscles over time. Focus on letting go of these muscles so they can work properly when you need them too.
If you need some more advice, check out my tips to poop better here and some bladder tips here. And stay tuned for the next blog post about how to relax your pelvic floor!
So there you have it, having a ‘loose’ pelvis is categorically untrue. However, at different stages along your journey you may need to work on strengthening your pelvic floor and that is normal. The best way to know what you need is to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist, but hopefully the tips above can help if that is not accessible to you!