By Julie Colan, 27th February 2019

Leak When you Sneeze?

The Truth About Kegel Exercises

The Truth About Kegel Exercises

The Modern Woman’s Weight Lifting (…for your vagina)

Approaching the big 4-0 makes many women start thinking about certain areas of their lives in a different way. For me, the grey hairs, nose hairs, and increasing wrinkles were not at the forefront of my mind. However, after two pregnancies, I was starting to think more seriously about my pelvic floor muscles. I knew all too well that with falling oestrogen levels, my pelvic floor strength would start to become more of an issue. Having taken control of my AS (my tin woman disease), I was not about to roll over and put up with leakage every time I laughed or sneezed and I really enjoy the trampoline!

Kegel exercises are not a new concept to me. As I said, I have had two children, and have been doing my exercises for years. But it did shock me just how few products were on the market for women to help improve their pelvic floors.

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I thought every woman knew to do their Kegels from a young age. I was 14 when I started mine. But asking the other mums on the school run if they knew of any products I could buy, I was shocked at just how few even considered using anything!

It didn’t take long for the penny to drop. There is still such a taboo around the subject. Most women believe the myths because there is no-one brave enough to stand up and talk about the truths.

Many women think they don’t need to do any exercises ‘down there’ unless they have an incontinence problem. Others think that you only need to do them after childbirth – and even then, (and this totally shocked me) most women believe that a little ‘leaking’ after having a baby is normal. This outraged me! Because it is NOT NORMAL!

It seemed to me that when talking to women outside the school gates, most saw Kegel exercise’s as a ‘rescue’ when things go wrong, rather than a preventative aid. I was astounded that most women had no idea they could do something about this before it became an issue.

Let me tell you right here and now ladies… leaking after childbirth doesn’t have to be normal. Leaking does not need to be something we put up with.

There and then I decided I needed to change the conversation. Instead of telling women ‘go find something to help you – you don’t need to put up with this’ – maybe I was the one that could help.

I set about doing research first – clearly, the education for women was not readily available.

50% of women in the UK have some form of prolapse and this is totally unacceptable. 

So, what exactly is your pelvic floor? 
It is a group of muscles that sit like a basket within your pelvis. The pelvic floor muscles span from the tailbone (coccyx) to the pubic bone; front to back, and also side to side. The pelvic floor muscles function as support for the organs that lie on it. Think of it as your ‘Lady Hammock’ holding up your Uterus, Bladder, and Rectum.
These pelvic floor muscles normally are firm, thick, and resemble a muscular trampoline in its ability to move up and down.

The pelvic floor muscles are similar to our arms, legs, or abdominal muscles and need to be exercised regularly. Just because you cannot see these muscles there is no excuse not to look after them. Imagine if you didn’t use your leg muscles often – then tried to go for a run!?

When the muscles that surround these organs can no longer fully support these organs this can result in the lack of control you have over passing urine, wind or faeces. In severe cases, there is a dropping down of the internal organs into the vagina. Not something any women wants to see. (Don’t panic ladies – I know this sounds utterly terrifying, but there is something you can do about it… trust me!)

Pregnancy and childbirth place a lot of stress on the pelvic floor. Women are at increased risk if your baby was large, you had an assisted birth (forceps/ventouse) or your labour was prolonged. And, contrary to belief, a caesarean does not leave you free from worry – sorry ladies. These issues can happen even if you have NOT had a baby! Muscles are muscles and need to be exercised, even if they have not gone through ‘trauma.’

If you have been lucky enough to get past pregnancy, childbirth and are now hitting 40, your chances of encountering issues are now are dramatically increased. Menopause causes so many hormonal changes (most of which we are already aware of) but did you know that when your oestrogen levels decline, this change weakens even the strongest pelvic floor?

Knowledge is power here ladies. Getting older doesn’t mean we have to resign ourselves to those terrible Tena Pants we see advertised. That fate is not ‘inevitable’ – you can help prevent it.

Research has shown that prenatal classes are not informing women on Kegel exercises and most do not know where to turn to get the help and support they deserve. The feedback from those who did seek help is that the ‘help’ provided with was very poor. A few handouts and off you go! Really?

The physiological impact and mental wellbeing of women who are suffering in silence is absolutely heart-breaking.

It is time to provide women with the education and support they deserve to help prevent pelvic floor conditions.

It’s 2019 ladies. In the last decade we have seen women take back power and control over so many parts of their bodies and lives – so why is it still acceptable that women resign themselves to a life with a lesser sex life, that they stop partaking in sport classes they once loved, or have to come up with excuses as to why they cannot go out socially and fear leaving the house without back up knickers and pads?

My mission, having done all this research, became very clear – it is time to create National Pelvic Floor Awareness Campaign.

It is time to provide women with the education and support they deserve to help prevent pelvic floor conditions.

With no adequate products available to help improve pelvic floor and a lack of information available I decided to design my own. With all the tools and research at my disposal, I decided to stop waiting for someone else to provide the product and design one myself.

I don’t like to make things too easy for myself so I spent the next 6 months speaking to designers in the Ukraine, manufacturers in China and health care experts based more locally to come up with a product that I would be proud to use myself.

Sometimes we just have to take matters into our own hands!

The process wasn’t without its headaches and had me reaching for a bottle on more occasions that would be strictly advisable… but… I got there in the end.

When my product, Secret Whispers ™, finally landed I was so proud and delighted with the finished product and packaging. But a pretty packaging won’t help if no one knows it exists. So, I started working on my social media presence to ensure that ladies received the support they deserve. Giving them a product is one thing but creating a community around that product where women feel comfortable to talk to each other about the process is just as important. We can’t break the taboo if we don’t talk to each other about it.

There are so many people now using the product and enjoying the support that comes with it and I am really enjoying the positive feedback.

The Secret Whispers Kegel ball weights are designed using double sphere technology for enhanced performance and a very comfortable fit (yes, I know that sounds like something straight out of a cheesy advert, but it’s true). I personally tried and tested them all until I was satisfied that I had the best product available

When inserted/worn they train your pelvic floor by engaging the correct pelvic floor muscles, helping to tone and tighten. Many women dismiss Kegels because they are doing them incorrectly. With these, the guesswork is taken away

Don’t worry, you are not expected to walk around all day with them – the exercise only takes 15 mins each day.

I am making it normal for women to talk about their issues and giving them the confidence to take back control.

The feedback from women who have used my Kegel kit has been fantastic. When I hear ‘I no longer need Tena ladies’ I honestly couldn’t be happier

I really hope that my story really helps to empower more people to think of solutions to their problems and take action – you could end up helping yourself and others!

Too many women around the world are suffering in silence, crossing their legs when they laugh or sneeze. It’s time to give women back control. I am now on a mission to stop women having to prematurely resort to pads to stop leakage – let’s takedown Tena Lady!

Our worlds are stuffed full of issues that women have to put up with (not just health wise!) and if we can all rack our brains and bring some solutions to life then I think we will be doing each other a great service!

Women spend too many years of their lives not talking about the issues that really affect them. Menstruation is still taboo, Menopause is still taboo, but ladies… this is an issue that truly does not need to be. There are far too many parts of our lives we need to hide behind closed doors, but this is not one of them something we can fix. So, talk to your friends about it – spread the word and shatter the taboo. Women are stronger together. In a way, I truly hope that in the coming years, Secret Whispers will become the world’s worst kept secret!

 

Note from The Editor: To find out more about Julie’s Kegel Campaign, take a look at her Facebook support group (Secret Whispers™) or pop over to her website here to read more.

 

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