Vaginal Fitness: It's all in the booty
Written by: Janelle C. Howell, PT, DPT, WCS
THE KEGEL TRAIN HAS TAKEN OFF AND I'M HERE TO TRY AND STOP IT!
If you just had a baby, they tell you to kegel. If you pee your pants when you sneeze, you probably thought you needed to kegel your way to work in the mornings. And God forbid, if a man stated his displeasure with your level of vaginal tightness or lack there of, you probably shamed yourself into kegeling...thinking that you were not tight enough to send him into erotic ecstasy.
Vaginal tightness has long been seen and worshipped as the secret to sexual pleasure and vaginal attractiveness. And while kegeling can be very beneficial and even life changing when appropriately prescribed by someone who has evaluated your pelvic floor muscle function (cue the pelvic physical therapy music),
constant kegeling is typically over-prescribed at large, unnecessary at best, and harmful at worst.
The surprising truth is that most women and vagina CEO's are stressed to the max! And from there, our pelvic floor muscles follow. Our vaginal muscles tense, shorten, and restrict themselves in response to the brain's command to protect the host from danger. Whenever we experience anxiety, stress, and fear, it's our bodies natural and protective cue to close off all openings and entrance points to prevent further damage. This is why our pelvic floor muscles and vaginal canal tightens when we experience stress and trauma- to prevent activities and experiences that should not be prioritized (sex and baby making). But if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I've squashed the myth that "a kegel a day keeps the doctor away". Kegels are helpful for the right person and the right vagina but they're not orgasms. They're simply not for everybody.
Here's the tricky part. It's nearly impossible to know if your vagina is rock solid stuck or muscularly happy without getting it looked at and examined by a professional. Because, not only have kegels been capitalized upon by influencers, magazine companies, and social media platforms as a means to market to those who may have insecurities about their vaginal fitness or merely just an incomplete understanding of their vaginal muscle function, but a recent scientific study released in 2019 revealed that the difference between a woman who pees her pants and a woman who does not pee her pants was NOT due to pelvic floor muscle weakness.
This study published by the Journal of Women's Health Physical Therapy compared 20 women who experience the "pee when you sneeze" syndrome and 20 women who don't pee when they sneeze. What they found was that both groups had similar levels of strength in their vah jay jay muscles! The group who didn't leak when they laughed or coughed, did not have athletic levels of pelvic floor muscle strength. In other words, just because you pee your pants, it does not immediately mean you need to go kegel 100 times per day. The alarming difference was their hip muscle strength and hip flexibility! AHHHHHH!
It's all making sense now! The group that did not pee their pants when they sneezed had greater gluteal strength with higher levels of hip flexibility, even though their vaginal muscles were not much different from those who wet their pants. The women that had pee pee problems, had tighter hips and weaker booties. So here it is y'all.
Your hip is the largest joint in your body! Your butt cheeks take up major space. It is essentially the protector for the entire pelvis. If your butt is weak or tight, it can strain the pelvic floor.
This means that a weak and tight butt will transfer unnecessary force to your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles. Over time, your vagina gives in and says "I can't handle this" and leads to incontinence, excess tightness, pain, or even drooping down of your pelvic organs into your vagina (prolapse). Your hips and butt can do a lot more than your pelvic floor can do on it's own. But keep in mind, other types of pelvic floor dysfunction can be caused by other bodily changes like pregnancy, sexual trauma, constipation, poor body mechanics and repetitive heavy lifting to name a few, but many times- it's due to booty problems.
This is why kegeling while laying flat on your back or sitting stiff in a chair is not always the answer. Kegels are fine when actually appropriately prescribed but many times, it's the butt that needs to be well relaxed and well strengthened to support wholistic pelvic function, which includes vaginal fitness.
So where do we start? We start by focusing on the entire pelvis and embracing the bigger picture. Many of us, sit on our bums all day. This turns our butt muscles off which makes them more likely to weaken and throw temper tantrums. So before you blame yourself for not kegeling enough or assuming your vagina is to blame, remember to take a good look at your butt and then slap it on the way out the door! Because vaginal fitness starts with pelvic happiness which includes: butt flexibility, hip/butt strength, and then finally we can start looking at the vagina and considering kegels.
This is why I'll be singing this song to my grave...
IT'S ALL IN THE BOOTY!
If you want to start releasing your hips, butt, and entire pelvis in a way that supports wholistic vaginal fitness, meet me at first Sunday's for my Vagina Rehab Stretch Lab ! I'll gather my expertise as a Doctor of Physical Therapy, Women's Health Specialist, and my personal experiences as a Vagina CEO to teach you how to unlock, release, and lengthen your pelvic muscles to gain better access to a vagina that lives to serve you!
The stretch lab is all about loosening up and letting go of things we don't need.
Do it for your vag.