Private Matters: Solutions to Common Gyno Problems
You work hard to tighten your abs and tone your arms. But chances are, you've never thought of strengthening your pelvis. Here's why you need to: Your sex life and your health depend on it.
Your pelvic floor, a web of muscles, tendons and ligaments at the lowest point of your torso, is one of the major support structures of your body. "The weight of your abdominal organs rests on it," says Amy Rosenman, MD, the president-elect of the American Urogynecologic Society. A weak or damaged pelvic floor can lead to all kinds of problems, including painful sex, backaches, and incontinence.
More and more young women are being diagnosed with pelvic floor disorders (PFDs). One in four between the ages of 25 and 44 reported episodes of leaking urine while laughing, coughing or exercising. And as many as 20 percent of women ages 18 to 50 suffer from chronic pelvic pain that lasts more than a year.
"Women are having babies later in life, which increases their risk of these problems," says Missy Lavender, the executive director of the Women's Health Foundation. Another factor could be your weight: Extra pounds put more stress on the pelvic floor. The exercise you do can also play a role. Today, we're running, cycling, lifting, kickboxing and otherwise making demands on our bodies that previous generations didn't. "Working out isn't generally the root cause of pelvic floor problems," Dr. Rosenman says. "But the pounding and exertion can worsen underlying problems."
The good news is that there's plenty you can do to avoid these troubles completely. Read on to find out what you need to know.
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