Pelvic health is an important part of overall well-being that is often overlooked. Many individuals experience issues with their pelvic floor, which can lead to discomfort, pain, and other symptoms. Pelvic health physiotherapy is an effective treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction, and incorporating meditation can enhance the results.
How does meditation work?
Meditation is a practice that involves training the mind to focus on the present moment and bringing awareness to the body. Meditation helps increase awareness of bodily sensations, thoughts, and emotions, fostering a better understanding and connection with one’s body. This awareness can be beneficial in pelvic health physiotherapy, where patients learn to identify and address issues related to pelvic floor dysfunction, such as muscle tension, relaxation, and coordination.
How does meditation relate to pelvic floor muscles?
Connecting with the pelvic floor muscles is essential for pelvic health. The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for supporting the pelvic organs, controlling urination and defecation, and enhancing sexual function. However, many people are disconnected from their pelvic floor and may not even know how to properly engage or relax these muscles. By incorporating meditation into their routine, individuals can become more aware of their pelvic floor and learn to control it more effectively.
Should I be doing kegel exercises for my pelvic health?
We often hear about strengthening our pelvic floor muscles by doing “kegels” all day long, which involves contracting and lifting the pelvic floor muscles. However, this is often not the answer to improving your pelvic health. Individuals with increased tension in the pelvic floor may require taking a step back to connect and recognize the body’s present state through relaxation, rather than through repeatedly contracting the muscles in a kegel exercise. It’s important to understand the cause of increased tension in the pelvic floor and give the body permission to feel safe before progressing in pelvic health rehabilitation.
What is the connection between my pelvic floor and mental health?
Many individuals with pelvic floor dysfunction experience emotions like stress, anxiety, fear, and shame related to their condition or previous trauma. These emotions, thoughts, and/or beliefs can contribute to increased tension in the body, including the pelvic floor muscles. This increased tension results from a protective response from the sympathetic nervous system often referred to as the “fight – flight – or freeze response.”
When your body perceives a threat or stressor, the sympathetic nervous system is activated. This can happen in response to physical injury, emotional stress, or any situation that your body interprets as potentially harmful. The heightened sympathetic response can directly impact the function of the pelvic floor, leading to increased tension, pain, and other symptoms. In simpler terms, it’s like the pelvic floor “hugging and loving us a little too tight.”
How does meditation help relax the pelvic floor muscles?
Guided meditation can help individuals activate the part of our nervous system known as the “rest and digest” state, where the main function is to promote relaxation, conserve energy, and facilitate normal bodily functions. This state allows the body to conserve energy, repair tissues, and perform essential functions necessary for maintaining normal physiological processes. It also helps individuals feel safe and give themselves permission to let go and release tension in the pelvic floor. Increasing the state of relaxation leads to decreased overprotection, pelvic floor tension, and pain or symptoms. Meditation can ultimately be used in conjunction with pelvic health physiotherapy techniques, such as manual therapy, exercises, and education on pain management strategies.
Can meditation treat pelvic floor issues?
Recent research has shown that meditation can be an effective tool for treating pelvic floor dysfunction. A 2020 study published in the International Urogynecology Journal found that mindfulness-based stress reduction was effective in reducing urinary incontinence and improving quality of life in women with stress urinary incontinence. Another study published in the Journal of Women’s Health in 2021 found that mindfulness meditation was effective in reducing pelvic pain and improving quality of life in women with pelvic pain.
Additional benefits of meditation
Meditation can be a powerful tool for promoting self-care and self-compassion. Pelvic health issues can be difficult to talk about and can cause feelings of shame or embarrassment. It can help build emotional resilience and acceptance, which are essential to coping with pelvic health challenges. Additionally, research suggests that meditation can reduce stress, anxiety, and promote overall mental well-being. Stress can contribute to pelvic health issues, such as pelvic pain, pelvic floor muscle tension, or urinary and bowel dysfunction. By reducing stress levels, meditation can indirectly help alleviate or manage these conditions.
In conclusion, pelvic health is a crucial component of overall well-being, and meditation can be an effective tool for improving pelvic health. It allows individuals to connect with their pelvic floor muscles, provide a sense of safety, release pelvic floor tension, reduce stress and anxiety, promote self-care and self-compassion.
How to incorporate meditation into your pelvic health journey
If you are interested in incorporating meditation into your pelvic health routine, there is a new free resource available to you. Lea Damata’s Pelvic Floor Guided Meditation Podcast is now available on Spotify and Apple Podcasts. Each episode of the podcast focuses on a specific aspect of pelvic health, and the meditations are suitable for individuals of all people and pelvic health conditions. From deep breathing exercises to body scans, each episode provides a new and valuable tool for promoting pelvic health.
Note: It’s important to note that while meditation and pelvic health physiotherapy can be beneficial and are created to be suitable and safe to follow, they are not meant to act as medical advice or as treatment for any conditions. Please seek guidance, advise, and treatment from your licensed healthcare professional for any unmanaged conditions or symptoms (physical, mental, emotional) you may be experiencing before starting or continuing these practices.
1. van Kampen, M., et al. (2020). Effectiveness of mindfulness-based stress reduction in women with stress urinary incontinence: a randomized controlled trial. International Urogynecology Journal, 31(9), 1787-1795.
2. Azzopardi, K. M., et al. (2021). The Effect of Mindfulness Meditation on Pelvic Pain and Quality of Life in Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of Women’s Health, 30(5), 734-742.
3. Shah, J., & Thakar, R. (2018). Mindfulness-based stress reduction: A novel approach to chronic pelvic pain. Journal of Pain Research, 11, 711-715.
4. Whitaker, L. H., Potter, J., & Stojanovska, L. (2019). The effects of mindfulness meditation on pain and quality of life in women with chronic pelvic pain: A randomized controlled trial. Journal of Women’s Health Physical Therapy, 43(2), 55-63.
5. Hilton, L., et al. (2017). Mindfulness Meditation for Chronic Pain: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 51(2), 199–213.