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Stress and the effect on the pelvic floor

Imagine what happens in your body when you feel really stressed out.

Your heart speeds up

Your pupils dislocate some

Your muscles tense to be ready to fight or run if needed, which is called your fight or flight response.

Your pelvic floor muscles are no exception. Those muscles also tighten when stress is present.

While these physical responses to stress are essential for short term stressors like running from a bear, they can be detrimental to your health and well being in the long term.

Chronic stress leading to a hypertonic pelvic floor (a pelvic floor that is too tight) can cause:

  • Pelvic pain

  • Pain with sex or tampon insertion

  • Incontinence

  • Feelings of heaviness in the vaginal canal

  • Constipation

  • Low back pain

Here are some ways to relax the pelvic floor :

  • Stretching

  • Certain poses to open up the pelvic floor such as Happy baby and deep squats

  • Breath work

Now relaxing the pelvic floor only get you so far. Without addressing the underlying stress, it’s kind of like putting a bandaid over the problem.

Some ways to manage your stress can include:

  • Mediation

  • Prioritizing sleep

  • Deep breathing

  • Going for a walk

  • A hug from a loved one (or a self hug)

  • Exercise

  • Practicing gratitude

  • Asking for help

  • Doing something you enjoy

  • Listening to a podcast or music

  • Talk with friends, family and/ or a trusted professional

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