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The Healthy and Balanced Vagina

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 4:25:02 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

Concerned that your vagina may be ''out-of-whack''?

There is a lot of talk about the importance of health and balance these days – and the vagina is no exception!

What makes for a healthy vagina? When the vagina is comfortable and there are no symptoms of abnormal discharge, unpleasant odour, itching, dryness, irritation or discomfort, the vaginal environment is likely to be in balance. (By the way, there are six key areas to focus on to resolve vaginal dryness).

A normal, healthy vagina contains high populations of good bacteria – mainly lactobacilli. These are similar to the ‘’good bugs’’ present in a healthy digestive system, but may be slightly different species. Higher amounts of lactobacilli are associated with reduced dryness in menopausal women, and those with more diversity of species had more dryness. In women of menstruating age, there is a reduction of lactobacilli during the menstrual period.

The lactobacilli help maintain a protective acidic environment in the vagina. The higher the lactobacilli, the lower the other bacteria. Where there is more variety of bacteria, the pH is higher (that is, the vagina is less acidic). So, the vagina is a case where less variety is actually a good thing! Lower amounts of lactobacilli in the vagina increases the risk of both sexually-transmitted infections and bacterial vaginosis. This can be associated with miscarriage or premature rupture of membranes in pregnancy. An increase in the ‘’bad’’ bacteria is present in what has been recently called ‘’aerobic vaginitis’’, which is a state of inflammation in the vagina.

What helps promote these good bacteria? Firstly, good oestrogen levels. Oestrogen helps promote lactobacilli, which keep the vagina acidic and help to fend off harmful bacteria. Interesting though, oestrogen also promotes the growth of thrush, which is why it is common to increase during pregnancy and while on the Pill. The acidic environment does not therefore fully defend against thrush, but certain species of lactobacillus do help resist Candida albicans (thrush) colonisation.

Secondly, avoiding artificial hormones and implants helps promote normal healthy vaginal flora. The balance tends to shift with the use of not only the oral contraceptive Pill, but the IUD (intra-uterine device). Studies have shown an increase in the harmful bacteria in the vagina, which does not occur when using condoms for contraception.

Thirdly, the balance of gut flora has an influence on the vaginal flora. As the vagina and the anus are in such close proximity, the bowel flora tend to ‘’migrate’’ to the vagina. It is therefore important to have a good balance of gut flora by eating fermented foods and/or taking probiotic supplements, as well as avoiding unnecessary antibiotics. Stress depletes the good bugs within hours, so this is our fourth important factor – improving stress management!

So what do you do when your vaginal flora is ‘’out-of-whack’’? It’s important to have a swab test with the GP if you have any symptoms of itching, irritation, change in discharge or pain with passing urine. There are also naturopathic treatment approaches for unbalanced vaginal flora, many of which have research studies to support them.

It is sometimes hard to know if your vaginal discharge is normal. This depends both on the general characteristics of the discharge, as well as how it might vary from what you've experienced previously. A few guidelines can help you work out if it is part of a healthy pattern of variation or not.

If you are concerned that you are out of balance from the vaginal perspective, make an appointment at Equilibria for tips on how to get this tested as well as possible treatment options.

If you would like to know more about achieving a healthy, balanced vaginal environment, go to our homepage and subscribe to our newsletter via the button below, ticking the box for ‘’Vaginal Health, Thrush and BV’’ for a series of free e-newsletters on the topic.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Magnesium and Your Bladder

Posted: Saturday, September 5, 2015 at 5:57:22 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

What Is The Connection?

What role does magnesium have in good bladder function?

More than you would think!

Magnesium is a mineral with an important role in muscle relaxation throughout the body. This effect occurs in both skeletal muscle (which is why magnesium may help muscle cramps) and smooth muscle (such as in the bladder, called the detrusor muscle).

Mineral works closely with other minerals, especially calcium. While calcium leads to muscle contraction, magnesium counteracts this.  Where there is an imbalance between available magnesium and calcium, there can be symptoms of contraction with insufficient relaxation e.g. muscle cramp, spasm, twitch, flicker or ‘’jump’’. (This twitch, flicker or ‘’jump’’ often occurs in the eyelid, and gives you an annoying twitching feeling that you feel everyone else can see). So, magnesium has been described as a ‘’natural calcium-channel blocker’’ in the body – it counteracts the effects of calcium.

Muscle contraction in the body relies on electrical activity (nerve impulses) in the nerve that connects to that muscle. The end of the nerve is called the synapse. The release of a chemical called acetylcholine at the synapse is responsible for the continuation of the electrical impulse further down the chain of nerves.

Magnesium actually inhibits this release of acetylcholine at the synapse. So, when a nerve is being ‘’overstimulated’’, magnesium can actually calm it down. This is why magnesium is used as an anti-convulsant – something that reduces seizures. It decreases the excessive amount of nerve stimulation within the nervous system that leads to a seizure. It has also been used for bronchospasm in asthma, to help relax the smooth muscle contraction in the airways.

Is it possible that magnesium could help your bladder, if you have a deficiency?

While no studies have been done on this, it is theoretically possible. In a condition called detrusor overactivity, the bladder contracts without you ‘’giving it permission’’. This can be associated with a feeling of urgency and sometimes leakage of urine. If you have other signs of a need for magnesium, such as leg cramps at night, it could be worth trying magnesium to see if it helps your bladder. It is possible that it may help compete with the ‘’excess of nerve messages’’ your bladder is being given to contract. A 1998 study from the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found a significant effect of taking magnesium in women with detrusor overactivity. A 1992 study in the British Journal of Urology found that magnesium decreased spontaneous contractions in the detrusor muscle, which are often seen in women with overactive bladder.

So is it worth having your magnesium levels tested?

Not in my opinion. I have seen many women in my practice with normal serum levels of magnesium who have responded well to supplementing with magnesium.  One reason for this may be that serum levels are not particularly reliable. Serum magnesium only represents about 0.3% of the body’s total magnesium. Most of it is found in the bone, muscle and soft tissue. These different ‘’pools’’ of magnesium in the body may take up to 6 months to reach equilibrium. What this means is that you could have a magnesium deficiency in the muscle, but it won’t show up in the blood test for six months. In my experience, if you get muscle cramps in your legs or feet, you probably would benefit from taking extra magnesium.

Magnesium is one of the safest minerals to supplement with. Even so, the wrong type or amount can cause diarrhoea or stomach upsets in some people. This is especially so with magnesium oxide. It is important to take the right form and dose of magnesium for the best effects.Organise an appointment for advice on this.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Solutions To Vaginal Dryness

Posted: Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 4:22:13 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

The Six Key Areas You Need to Focus On

  • Good hormone levels.

Oestrogen promotes strong and healthy tissue in the vulva. It also promotes good levels of vaginal lactobacilli (see above). In women of fertile age, it promotes production of mucus by the cervix at certain times of your cycle, which produces a normal discharge. At other times of month, the vaginal walls can produce a different type of normal vaginal discharge, which is a sign of a healthy, balanced vagina. Withdrawal of oestrogen (for example, at menopause or with prolonged breastfeeding) can therefore lead to a feeling of vaginal dryness, as well as increased vulnerability of the tissue to micro-tearing and trauma, especially with intercourse.

  • Good balance of vaginal flora.

A normal, healthy vagina contains good amounts of beneficial flora, especially certain strains of lactobacilli. Lactobacillus bacteria produce the protective ‘’acid mantle’’, or the normal protective coating on the vaginal walls, which increases resistance to infection, but also makes the vagina feel less dry, sensitive or ‘’stingy’’.

  • Nutrients for formation of healthy skin.

Like any skin of the body, the ‘’skin’’ or epithelium of the vagina is constantly ‘’re-healing’’, as part of normal cell ‘’turnover’’. Specific nutrients are essential for this, including vitamin A, vitamin E, vitamin C, protein, zinc and essential fatty acids. A lack of any of these nutrients (which is surprisingly common) can make the vagina feel dry, irritated, chafed or prone to microtrauma.

  • Healthy thoughts, emotions and libido.

Stress promotes what is called the ‘’sympathetic response’’ of the nervous system. This works against producing healthy moisture with arousal, and acts as a very effective block against libido , so that you’re less likely to be in a situation of sexual arousal in the first place!

  • Lots of healthy sexual stimulation.

Sexual stimulation that feels good and right for you is the key component in your body’s production of vaginal fluids, which work as a natural lubricant. Sometimes, just taking more time on this, focusing on what is really feeling right for you, helps a lot. Even in situations where there are other factors at play, neglecting to spend enough time on this can contribute to penetration being uncomfortable.

  • A really good natural lubricant.

A great lubricant can make things feel a lot better. Most lubricants contain petroleum derivatives and/or other unnatural chemicals. These can cause reactions in some women, and are best avoided. A natural, organic lubricant is a wonderful help.

E-mail us to enquire about purchasing a fully organic, natural personal lubricant.

Want more detail? This is just a summary of a summary! Sign up for our Vaginal Health E-Bulletin, a series of newsletters focusing on attaining optimal vaginal health.Make sure you tick ''Vaginal Health, Thrush and BV'' as well as any other topics you are interested in!

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter
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In Search of That Elusive Libido

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:07:11 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Ladies’ Libido…a slippery creature indeed!

The topic of a future blog post, for the time being I would like to share some wonderful resources for women who are seeking that elusive creature.

You may find these resources useful if you:

  • Have noticed that your sex drive has dropped
  • Have never really felt much with sex
  • Are motivated to improve your libido and your sensation with sex

The V Book – A Doctor’s Guide to Complete Vulvovaginal Health by Elizabeth G Stewart

This is a must for any woman who is not sure what’s what ‘’downstairs’’. It very clearly takes you through the anatomy of the vulva and helps you become familiar with that part of your body that is often lacking in attention and awareness!

The following three on this list are more like ‘’workbooks’’. They are designed to be worked through, not just read!

Becoming Orgasmic by Julia Heiman

Despite its slightly cheesy title, this is an all-time ‘’classic’’ in women’s sexuality. It helps you explore the reasons that may be stopping you from experiencing ideal sexual pleasure.

The Elusive Orgasm by Vivienne Cass

In no way all about orgasm, this is a more modern book written by a psychologist and sex therapist doctor that is easy to read and very non-intimidating. A great one to start with.

Women’s Anatomy of Arousal by Sheri Winton

This was awarded Book of the Year in 2010 by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists. It really is a tremendous book that brings many age-old ‘’secrets of sexuality’’ from Eastern traditions into the mainstream, in a way that is humourous, irreverent, and easy-to-read. Highly recommended to share with your partner.

Don’t forget to check your local library for these books. Otherwise, they are easily accessible on Amazon.com.

 

 

 

 

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Causes of Bladder Pain Part 2

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:07:30 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

What Else Could Be Behind Your Bladder Pain?

This is Part Two - so make sure you scroll down to the post below to get the full story on possible causes of bladder pain!

Cancer.

Let’s get this one out of the way! While bladder cancer or a bladder tumour, is an uncommon cause of bladder pain, especially in younger people, it is important to be ruled out. It is always important to identify the cause of blood in the urine, either macroscopic (meaning visible to the naked eye) or microscopic (meaning it shows up on a dipstick test).

Obstruction.

If the urethra (bladder tube) gets blocked, the bladder can overfill and become distended like a balloon, and cause pain. Obstruction may occur for many reasons, including prostate enlargement in men, bladder stones, tumours, scar tissue, or bladder prolapse in women. It is uncommon in women, and would occur with the symptom of difficulty emptying the bladder or a change to the urine stream.

Incomplete bladder emptying.

If the bladder does not empty completely it is possible for the bladder to overfill and cause pain, as in obstruction. This could occur with damage to sensory nerves of the bladder, such as with gynaecological surgery or a traumatic childbirth. There is also a rare condition in young women known as Fowler’s Syndrome, where the urethra (bladder tube) does not relax properly when trying to pass urine, leading to urinary retention.

Interstitial cystitis or painful bladder syndrome.

Interstitial cystitis (IC) is also known as painful bladder syndrome (PBS) or bladder pain syndrome (BPS). It is a condition causing pain (or pressure or discomfort) associated with the bladder, usually worse as the bladder is filling, and relieved to some degree with passing urine. It is a chronic condition (present for at least 6 weeks) where a urinary tract infection has been clearly ruled out. A dipstick test may show blood in the urine. A cystoscopy will normally show bleeding wounds in the wall of the bladder called ‘’glomerulations’’ or petechial haemorrhages. However, it is possible to have PBS without this classic sign of IC. Antibiotics will not change the symptoms.

Endometriosis.

Endometriosis is a condition where the endometrium, or uterine lining, grows abnormally in places that it shouldn’t, such as the bowel, the bladder and the pelvic cavity. Endometriosis often causes pelvic pain, usually exacerbated during menstruation. Sometimes the pain can feel specific to the bladder. With bladder endometriosis, a dipstick test may show pyuria (pus or white blood cells) in the urine, but a culture for a urinary tract infection will be negative. Antibiotics will not change the symptoms.

A Final Message About Bladder Pain

Bladder can be acute and self-limiting (meaning that it is related to clear cause and resolves predictably) or it can be chronic, where the cause is more difficult to find. When it persists for a period of weeks or months, it takes on the characteristics common to chronic pain, such as neurogenic inflammation and central sensitisation. Recurrent urinary tract infections are another issue that need expert help to resolve. Here at Equilibria, we have the expertise to help you solve these problems once and for all.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Causes of Bladder Pain Part 1

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:07:48 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Bladder pain: what could be behind it?

Pain in the bladder can be downright distressing. Like all ‘’organ’’ pain, it is compounded by the anxiety associated with ‘’something being wrong’’ with an important body system.

There is a range of experience of bladder pain. Some aspects include:

-Pain when passing urine

-Pain that feels like it’s coming from your bladder, which increases as your bladder gets fills up

-An ongoing discomfort with urge; a feeling of constantly needing to go to the toilet, which doesn’t really ease when you go

So what are some of the possibilities when your bladder hurts?

Urinary tract infection.

The good old UTI is probably the most common cause of pain in the bladder, and usually is accompanied by a ‘’triad’’ of symptoms: frequency (going to the toilet more often, often for only small amounts), urgency (a feeling that you can’t put off the urge and have to rush to the toilet) and dysuria (pain with passing urine, usually worse at the end of the stream). Sometimes the body can fight this off, especially if you alkalise the urine with Ural or bicarbonate of soda, but if symptoms persist, it’s important to get to a doctor who can do a dipstick to check for white blood cells and send it off for culture. You will most likely need antibiotics. It is critical that the infection does not reach the kidneys, as this can cause long-term damage. You should always act quickly, particularly if you have a fever.

Stones.

Bladder stones are made up of minerals and proteins in the urine. Sometimes bladder stones can remain in the bladder with no symptoms. However, passing stones is normally (but not always) extraordinarily painful. A dipstick test with the doctor will show up blood in the urine (which may not be visible to the naked eye). An X-ray can show up some types of stones (calcium oxalate, but not uric acid stones), or a cystoscopy (camera in the bladder) may be necessary to diagnose them. They normally occur in older people or people who have become dehydrated.

Vaginal infection.

Sometimes, an infection in the vagina (bacterial or yeast infection) can cause pain in what feels like the bladder; it is also possible to have pain when passing urine, as the urethra (bladder tube) can be inflamed (this is called urethritis). Especially if your symptoms are not the ‘’classic triad’’ and don’t show up as a urinary tract infection on a culture, it is important to have a vaginal swab to rule out vaginal infection. It is important to consider chlamydia, an extremely common sexually transmitted infection, which in some women causes no symptoms at first, but can cause pain with passing urine.

That's just the beginning - watch this space in the next few days for some more causes of bladder pain and arm yourself with information!

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Back Pain: Part and Parcel of Pregnancy...or is it?

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:08:05 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Picture this: you’re 25 weeks pregnant. You’re supposed to be radiant and glowing. In reality, your back is killing you.

You feel exhausted from the pain.

Work is a nightmare.

At night, you can’t find a comfortable position.

You don’t even feel better when you wake up in the morning!

Terrible thoughts keep going round in your head:

‘’How am I going to get through to maternity leave?’’

‘’If it’s this bad now, how bad is it going to be by the time I’m due?’’

‘’Is this going to affect my labour and birth?”

Sensibly, you bring it up with your obstetrician at your next antenatal appointment. You’re pleased to know your blood pressure is fine, and you passed the oral glucose tolerance test, so you don’t have gestational diabetes. But the back! The back pain is unbearable!

‘’Look, don’t worry, you’re healthy, the pregnancy is going fine. Back pain is just part and parcel of pregnancy.’’

Sadly, I’ve heard this story hundreds of times. Usually, it is when pregnant women are seeing me for their first physio appointment over half-way through their pregnancy. They’ve had the back pain for 3 months now. Why didn’t they come to see me earlier?

Usually, because they’ve been told that back pain is to be expected in pregnancy, and there’s nothing they can do about it. Often they have been told this by their obstetrician, but it could also have been their GP or a well-meaning friend. I have even heard it said by physiotherapists with limited experience treating pregnant women. The problem is, it’s just not true.

There are as many types of back pain in pregnant women as there are in non-pregnant women. If you have had back pain before, or a past injury such as a disc bulge, it is likely to flare up during the pregnancy. It is equally likely that a mild biomechanical problem in your back and pelvis that was pain-free beforehand will flare up due to the physical demands of pregnancy. And then of course there is new pain from conditions you are susceptible to in pregnancy, such as symphysis pubis dysfunction (SPD) or sacro-iliac joint dysfunction.

Don’t accept back or pelvic pain in pregnancy without having a thorough assessment by a physiotherapist specifically experienced in helping pregnant women. We can almost always help you – sometimes a lot, occasionally a little. Either way, you’ll walk away empowered, and with a sense of control.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter

Top Ten Pelvic Floor Mistakes and Repercussions Part II

Posted: Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 8:08:25 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Get your pelvic floor exercises right.

Be sure to avoid the final five of the top ten errors when doing pelvic floor exercises, and check the previous post for the first five!

 

Mistake

You’re breathing too shallow or too deep.

Easy does it - natural breathing is the way to go.

 

Repercussions

Shallow breathing may mean you don't have the right pattern   of contraction. Yet, in my clinic I see many women who are breathing too   deeply, and losing the contraction as they go - especially when the muscles   are weak and poorly co-ordinated. When your muscles are rip-roaring   fantastic, you can usually hold them while breathing any old way you like.

You’re holding your breath.

This is bad news! If you're holding your breath while you   do your pelvic floors, you may as well not be doing them. If try as you   might, you can't hold and breathe at the same time, you need a specialist   pelvic floor physio. Believe me, we have ways!

Repercussions

If you breathe in when you tighten your pelvic floor, you   teach the muscles to only hold then, and to let go when you breathe out. The   pelvic floor muscles are postural muscles - that is, they should be   ''switched on'' through your daily activities. Train them with natural   breathing.

You’re not holding for long enough.

A lot of women are taught to do ''quick squeezes''.

 

 

Repercussions

When the coordination is poor or the muscles are weak,   this does nothing for the muscles. Unless your muscles have been specifically   assessed, concentrate on learning to hold for the length of one natural   breath in and out, then build up to 10 seconds.

You’re just not getting around to it.

When I ask patients how often they do them, the common   answer is ''well, I try to do...'' or, ''I aim to do...''

Rerpercussions

 

Sorry, but this is one situation where it is not the   thought that counts! Set a goal with your physio, and stick to it. If you   fall off the wagon, do more to offset the break.

The only time you think about the pelvic floor is when   you do the exercises.

Although many people need to improve the strength of these   muscles, the bottom line is, they are ''functional'' muscles.

 

Repercussions

Strong muscles are great, but if you don't use them in   your daily function - lifting toddlers, washing the car, vacuuming, jogging,   coughing, gardening - you may as well not have them! Put your pelvic floor to   work. Getting them working while you're active will help you reap the   benefits of a strong back, good bladder control and good sexual awareness.

It's easy to make these common mistakes - but now you know what they are, be on the look out for them. If you aren't making these mistakes, there's a good chance your pelvic floor will be working well for you. If you have checked and don't think you're making these mistakes, but don't seem to be getting results with your exercises (for example, you are still experiencing incontinence or prolapse symptoms), you'll need a pelvic floor physiotherapist. That's what I'm here for! I can do an individualised assessment and give you specific strategies to change the situation.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

Connect with Alyssa  |  Facebook  |  Google Plus | linkedin | Twitter
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Doing Your Pelvic Floor Exercises Wrong? Top Ten Mistakes and the Repercussions Part 1

Posted: Saturday, March 24, 2012 at 9:51:21 PM EST by Alyssa Tait

You’re trying to do your pelvic floor exercises, but how do you know you’re getting it right?

It’s true that you’ve got to get your pelvic floor working – but more to the point, you’ve got to get it working right! That’s why you need to know the top signs to look out for that reveal you’re doing it wrong.

Now for a brief refresher. A healthy pelvic floor is important for preventing and correcting incontinence and vaginal prolapse. The basics of a pelvic floor exercise, or Kegel exercise as it is sometimes called, is this: you imagine you’re stopping the flow when doing a pee. It feels like a tightening,'' pulling up and in'' sensation inside. You might feel it around where you pee, or you might feel it in the vagina. After holding it there, you let go. Have you got it? Now check you’re not making these common mistakes, and discover the repercussions of each mistake.

Common Mistake:

Repercussion:

You’re actually stopping your pee mid-stream.

Some people are still following the old advice to actually stop the flow to work their pelvic floor. 

 

This interrupts the complex neurological process of emptying the bladder, and in some cases can make you empty incompletely, leading to its own problems

You’re getting down on the floor to do them.

They may be called ''pelvic floor exercises'' - but this is because the muscles line the floor of the pelvis.

Repercussion:


If you really want to, you can lie on the floor to do them - but you don't have to. It would be like wearing a red hat every time you do them - harmless but unnecessary!

 

You’re doing a pelvic tilt.

If your pelvis visibly moves when you're doing it, you're not doing a pelvic floor exercise. I'll never forget an elderly client demonstrating her pelvic floor exercise for me - not only did she tilt her pelvis, she half-stood and leaned so far forward her back was nearly parallel to the ground!

Repercussion:

All your hard work can be in vain if you're simply moving your pelvis instead of pulling up and in inside your pelvis. Fine for some types of sore back, but for pelvic floor, barking up the wrong tre

You’re squeezing your bottom, sucking in your abs strongly or tightening your legs.

''Buns of steel'' and ''rock hard abs'' are not the goals here. You shouldn't see your legs move when you do your pelvic floor. You shouldn't lift off the chair - in fact, if anyone can tell you're doing them, you're doing them wrong!

Repercussion:

At best, working all the wrong muscles can mean you will get nowhere fast! At worst, you can create a major muscle imbalance in your pelvic floor. I've seen this plenty with women who are only doing their pelvic floors during Pilates. Try lying in front of a mirror without underwear on, or using a hand mirror. When you do your pelvic floor contraction correctly, you should actually see the perineum (area between vagina and anus) draw inward into the body. Try it, you might be surprised how obvious it is!

 

You’re bearing down.

Some women think they are doing their pelvic floors, but they are actually pushing down, like they're having a baby! Please - this action should be confined to exactly that - having a baby!

 

Repercussion:

Bearing down or pushing down weakens the pelvic floor over time and can make symptoms of prolapse and incontinence worse - and means you're not getting any of the benefits of correct pelvic floor exercises.

Found any of your own mistakes yet? Don't get too comfortable - there's another post coming with 5 more common mistakes before you can relax! Keep an eye out for Part 2. On the other hand, if you know you've got it wrong, and need to be put on the right track, contact us for an appointment.

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Ten Reasons Why Sex Hurts

Posted: Friday, January 9, 2015 at 8:49:15 AM EST by Alyssa Tait

Ideally, sex is a loving connection between two people – so what does it mean when sex hurts?

You’re not in the mood.

Sometimes, you are too tired or just not up to it. You can choose to say no at these times, or alternatively, you can choose to get into the mood. Focus on emotional connection and lots of foreplay – or only foreplay.

Your body is telling you no.

Pain with sex can be your body’s way of telling you something’s not right. There are many reasons for this, including emotional. If you’ve had negative sexual experiences or a history of trauma to this area, pay attention to your body’s signals.

Your libido is shot.

Sexual pleasure and libido often go together. While it is possible to get yourself in the mood and enjoy it even if your sex drive is low at the outset, it makes more sense to take steps to increase your sex drive.

Medication is having an effect.

Lots of meds can reduce libido. Are you on the Pill? On antidepressants? Ask your pharmacist if this could be killing your sex drive.

It’s not the right time of month.

At certain times of month, you may be more in the mood than others. Vaginal dryness is also normal for many women at certain times of month. Aim to learn more about the effect of your hormones on the environment down there.

Blame your hormones.

A drop in oestrogen tends to lead to vaginal dryness. After a while, this can lead to deterioration in the tissue quality, sometimes called vaginal atrophy or atrophic vaginitis. This is common after menopause, and when breastfeeding.

Things aren’t right down there.

If you have thrush or a urinary tract infection, things definitely won’t feel good with sex. Get this checked out and treated.

Your IBS is playing up.

The bowel and the vagina ‘’speak’’ to each other, so a flare-up of your irritable bowel can have the effect of putting the vagina ‘’off limits’’.

You’ve got vaginismus.

When your vaginal muscles are in spasm or tense up and cause pain with sex, this needs professional treatment. A pelvic floor physiotherapist with specific experience with vaginismus can help you.

You’ve got ‘’provoked vestibulodynia’’.

Vestibulodynia, sometimes called vulvar vestibulitis, tends to overlap with the vaginismus described above and with a condition called vulvodynia. This is a highly complex condition that needs treatment by an experienced and qualified clinician. But to get an idea, try my quick Vulvodynia Self Test to see if it's likely that you have it.

Of course, this is not a complete list, but it may give you a starting point. Understanding the cause allows you to take action to help. Some causes are simple and easy to fix, while some are more complex.

 If your relationship is being affected by painful intercourse, we strongly recommend you seek professional help, including a medical assessment. In the meantime, it might help to explore the possibilities listed.

If you have already been medically checked out, it may be a good time to make an appointment with us to address the cause.

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About Alyssa Tait

Alyssa runs Equilibria Physiotherapy & Nutrition, a clinic focusing on integrative solutions for pelvic health issues including all types of pelvic pain, bladder and bowel control issues, fertility, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Alyssa’s website www.equilibriahealth.com.au is an information hub related to all things relating to the function of the female pelvis.

She aims to help as many people as possible restore balance to their pelvis through education, effective treatment and empowering lifestyle choices.

Alyssa enjoys playing the clarinet and rollerblading, though (much to the gratitude of her patients), not while she is consulting.

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