Gynaecology

Importance Of Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

What do my pelvic floor muscles do? 

The pelvic floor is the base of the group of muscles referred to as your ‘core’. These muscles work with your tummy (deep abdominal) and deep back muscles and diaphragm to stabilise and support the spine. They also assist in controlling the pressure inside your abdomen to deal with the pushing force when you lift or strain, for example when you are exercising.

Pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, bowel and uterus in women (and the bladder and bowel in men).

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What causes my pelvic floor muscles to weaken? 

Pelvic floor problems can occur when the pelvic floor muscles are stretched, weakened or too tight. Some people have weak pelvic floor muscles from an early age, whilst others notice problems after certain life stages such as: 

·      Childbirth (predominantly resulting in the delivery of a large baby or prolonged pushing during delivery)

·      Being pregnant

·      Being overweight

·      Heavy lifting (e.g. at work or the gym)

·      Chronic cough or sneezing (asthma, heavy smokers & hayfever)

·      Changes in hormonal levels (menopause)

·      Constipation (excessive straining to empty your bowel)

·      A history of back pain

·      Growing older.

 

How do you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles?

Your pelvic floor muscles can be consciously controlled and therefore trained. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will help you to support your bladder and bowel. What this does in improve your bladder and bowel control and helps reduce the possibility of accidentally leaking from your bladder and bowel. With a regular strengthening exercise program your pelvic floor muscles will become stronger. This is very important for both women and men.

·      If you have mastered the art of contracting your pelvic floor muscles correctly, you can try holding the inward squeeze for longer (up to 10 seconds) before relaxing. Make sure you can breathe easily while you squeeze. If you can do this exercise, repeat it up to 10 times, but only as long as you can do it with perfect technique while breathing quietly and keeping everything above the belly button relaxed. This can be done more often during the day to improve control. If you need help identifying your pelvic floor muscles then visit the Pelvic Floor First website.

·      Pilates are another great way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles as these muscles require slow exercises as well as fast exercises. Check out the Poise website for some great pilates workout examples. (Consult your physician if you have any questions or are hesitant whether or not pilates is ok and safe for you, especially if you are pregnant).

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How do I prevent damage to my pelvic floor muscles?

You need to avoid the following:

·      Straining with a bowel motion

·      Persistent heavy lifting

·      Repetitive coughing

·      Putting on too much weight.

Like all exercises, pelvic floor exercises are most effective when individually tailored and monitored. The exercises described are only a guide and may not help if done incorrectly or if the training is inappropriate.

CST is the new pap smear and why do I need it?

If you’re female, you’re going to need numerous CST (Cervical Screening Tests) over your lifetime. But what is a CST? And are CST's necessary?

WHAT IS A CST?

The Cervical Screening Test is a simple procedure to check the health of your cervix. If you have ever had a Pap test before, the way the test is done will feel the same.

The Cervical Screening Test replaces the two-yearly Pap test for people. If you're aged 25 to 74 you should have your first Cervical Screening Test two years after your last Pap test.

The Cervical Screening Test is more accurate at detecting human papillomavirus (known as HPV). 

HPV is a common virus that can cause changes to cells in your cervix, which in rare cases can develop into cervical cancer.

WHY HAS SCREENING CHANGED FROM 2 TO 5 YEARS?

The Cervical Screening Test is more accurate at detecting HPV. The Pap test used to look for cell changes in the cervix, whereas the new Cervical Screening Test looks for the HPV which can lead to cell changes in the cervix. 

Because of this, it is safe for you if your test does not indicate (show) you have a HPV infection to wait five years between tests. Even if your test shows you have HPV it usually takes 10 or more years for HPV to develop into cervical cancer and cervical cancer is a rare outcome of a HPV infection. 

WHEN WILL I GET THE RESULTS OF MY PAP SMEAR?

The results of your CST will generally be returned within two weeks.

HOW OFTEN DO I NEED TO HAVE A CST?

Once you have had your first Cervical Screening Test, you will only need to have one every five years instead of every two, if your results are normal.

DO CST HURT?

While the process certainly isn’t overly comfortable, your CST should not be painful. The whole process is over very quickly and you’ll be able to re-commence your day’s activities.

I’M TOO SCARED TO GET A CST

While a CST can sound a little scary, it’s truly not that bad, and will be over before you know it. If you’re really nervous about it though, don’t be shy to speak to the friendly and compassionate staff at Stela Obstetrics and Gynaecology about the process and how they can help you. It’s such an important part of monitoring the health of every woman. There’s also no need to be embarrassed about getting a CST Dr Suzana is highly experienced at taking CST's; it’s a very normal part of her job and she will help you to feel comfortable and relaxed.

WHERE TO GET YOUR CST IN MELBOURNE

Dr Suzana Kotevska is a highly experience obstetrician and gynaecologist, and she strives to ensure all her patients feel completely at ease and relaxed at their consultation. Apart from English, Dr Kotevska also speaks Macedonian, Serbian, Bulgarian, Bosnian and Croatian which allows her to provide excellent and personalised care to women of many backgrounds.