• Does Your Pelvic Floor Startle Easily?

    When watching a scary movie or seeing a spider in your house - before you gasp, jump or cringe the very first reflex your body has is to tighten your pelvic floor. While this may be good party trivia there is research which backs up the claim. 

    In 2001 researchers recorded the activity of pelvic floor muscles (along with other muscle groups including those of the upper traps) of volunteers who have vaginismus and women who do not have this diagnosis. They recorded changes in the activity from a threatening stimulus (excerpt from Jaws) and a sexually threatening stimulus (excerpt from Without Her Consent).  The pelvic floor muscles jumped in activity to both types of threats, emotional or physical.

    Intriguing? Right?

    What this tells us is that we have our very own private security guard who helps to prepare us for threats. The pelvic floor perceives threats and works really hard to tighten up in preparation for fight or flight.

    Whether the threat is emotional or physical the reaction is the same. Therefore a stressful emotional experience can elicit a strong pelvic floor contraction just as much as a Halloween prankster jumping out from the shadows. However, between the two experiences a stressful emotional experience can linger for days if not weeks or months. These long lasting emotional stresses can wreak havoc on your pelvic floor making it constantly contracted and can lead to pain and dysfunction.

    So what can we do about it?

    Keep these ideas in mind:

    • Self-care: Reducing your stress is key to preventing overactivity and dysfunction. Make sure you are carving out time for things that help your mind and body. Going on daily walks, taking long baths, keeping your cell phone in a locked drawer away from you! Make sure you are getting proper nutrition and sleep. Say No to too many activities and projects. 
    • Pelvic Floor Drops: Use your breath to help stretch and relax your pelvic floor. Reduce the amount of tension in your pelvic floor. Check in and try and do a pelvic floor drop while seated, while standing. Not sure how to do a pelvic floor drop? See a Pelvic Floor Specialist.
    • Last but not least - check in with your body: Do a body scan throughout the day to check and see if your pelvic floor is contracted or feels like it is gripping. Take a series of long deep breaths to relax your belly, your shoulder and your pelvic floor. Sigh. A sigh is a giant breath which helps to calm your heart rate, relax your shoulders, expand your diaphragm which in turn relaxes and expands your pelvic floor.

     Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Body Wise