As we grow older, our pelvic floor (the group of muscles around our bladder, bottom and vagina or penis) naturally becomes a little weaker. Events such as childbirth and menopause can accelerate this.
This can lead to some unpleasant symptoms - both physical and mental. A weak pelvic floor can negatively affect your urinary, bowel and sexual health. This may then lead to feelings of social anxiety and a loss of self-confidence.
Luckily, there are plenty of ways to strengthen your pelvic floor and avoid problems later in life. Before we examine how long it takes to strengthen your pelvic floor, let's firstly look at the signs and symptoms of a weak pelvic floor.
8 signs of a weak pelvic floor
There are a number of ways to identify a weak pelvic floor. Here are the 8 most common symptoms.
Inability to control your bladder
One of the most common signs of a weak pelvic floor is an inability to control your bladder. This comes in two forms: a frequent urge to pee (urge incontinence) and leaking urine when your bladder is under stress (stress incontinence).
Inability to control your bowels
This is less common than urinary incontinence, but a weak pelvic floor can also lead to faecal incontinence. This isn't a very pleasant condition, and can lead to you involuntarily emptying your bowels.
Pain during sex
Although many people associate painful sex with STIs or STDs, it can also be a symptom of a weak pelvic floor. Pain during sex can happen because your pelvic floor muscles are overly tense and tight.
Less enjoyable sex
When your pelvic floor muscles are weak it may lead to less feeling in your intimate area, reducing sexual satisfaction and limiting how much pleasure you get from it.
Inability to orgasm
If your pelvic floor muscles are loose and weakened, it could mean you're unable to orgasm during sex. By strengthening them, the contractions in your pelvic floor will be much stronger and will give you greater sexual satisfaction.
Pain when you pee
Feeling a burning sensation when you urinate is a common symptom of a urinary tract infection (UTI). And these infections can be brought about by - you guessed it - a weak pelvic floor.
Dryness in your vaginal area
Sometimes a weak pelvic floor can affect you in different ways. One of those is feeling dryness in your vaginal area. It may start to feel uncomfortable and unpleasant.
Lower back pain
If the muscles around your pelvic floor are weakened, they might struggle to support the rest of your body. This puts extra pressure on your lower back. If you're suffering from lower back pain, it might be because your pelvic floor muscles are struggling to cope.
How long it takes to strengthen your pelvic floor
Kegels are generally considered to be the most effective pelvic floor exercise. Through Kegel exercises, it takes between 2 and 4 months to strengthen your pelvic floor.
However, you'll only feel an improvement if you're performing them consistently and correctly. This is important, because one recent study found that 46% of participants were not performing Kegels using the correct technique. Half of those users thought they were performing them correctly.
There are also a number of cosmetic procedures that strengthen your pelvic floor much more quickly. Probably the most effective of these is the Emsella chair. This is an FDA-approved device which sends electromagnetic waves through your body. These waves stimulate contractions within your pelvic floor muscles. Therefore, a 30-minute session with the Emsella chair can perform the equivalent of 11,200 Kegels.
With the Emsella chair, it could take just 2 weeks to start strengthening your pelvic floor.
Pelvic floor treatment at Dundrum Clinic
As part of our private gynaecology service, at our clinic in Dublin we can help you tackle a weak pelvic floor. We'll assess your condition during an initial consultation and then suggest the best course of treatment.
You can book a consultation with us for just €20.