Think you know your pelvic floor exercises?

Sharing knowledge of pelvic floor exercises 

There seems to be a lot of momentum building with my campaign for Pelvic Floor awareness, as I had the pleasure of being a guest on The Midlife Movement podcast with Jo Blackwell. Jo, from Northamptonshire, provides a membership full of resources to help women reaching midlife through the rollercoaster that can be the menopause.

With the onset of peri-menopause, so many hormonal changes take place and with oestrogen getting lower, weakening your pelvic floor, Jo’s was the perfect audience to share more knowledge with.  

Secret Whispers® Business journey 

So I shared my journey with her and I will with you. I was about to turn 40 and was  reading an article which said “Just because you think you have a strong pelvic floor, the likelihood of developing a leakage issue still increases by 50% with the onset of peri-menopause”. I was determined this wasn’t happening to me - I’ve been doing my kegels since I was 14 and had 2 births with no issues. It made me start asking questions of friends, though, and was shocked at the responses I got….. 

“It’s normal to leak after having babies” 

“What is a kegel?” and worse 

“What’s a pelvic floor?” ….. Are any of these sounding familiar to you when you talk to your friends?

I was so surprised to find that I was in the small minority of women who knew  about Kegel exercises and why pelvic floor exercises are so important.  So,  I started looking around for a suitable product for me, which I knew had to be weighted because doing kegels alone wasn’t going to be enough. I couldn’t find what I wanted, so I sat down to design my own product, you know, how I would like it and imagining it in the sports department of John Lewis. I couldn’t have dreamed how well it would be received - it’s all about creating awareness.

At least 50% women suffer with a pelvic organ prolapse

Jo asked about the pelvic floor for her listeners so I suggested they think of their pelvic floor like a hammock holding up the bowel, bladder and uterus. Did you know  at least 50% women suffer from pelvic organ prolapse? This is a condition that occurs when your pelvic floor muscles get so weak they can’t hold your organs up making them protrude through your vagina , a terrifying experience for women.

Sadly for many women, it’s only when they suffer a prolapse that they find out how important doing pelvic floor exercises is - hence my determination to keep campaigning for pelvic floor awareness. Remember, prevention is better than cure. 

It’s key to be aware that just because you don’t have an issue yet, doesn’t mean you have a strong pelvic floor - it’s a muscle like any other - if you don’t use it, it’ll become weak. The Secret Whispers® Kegel Weight Kit is like a weighted tampon. Once inserted into your vagina, gravity does its bit and the correct pelvic floor muscles engage to keep it in - think about it as a dumbbell for your pelvic floor. And talking of tampons, Jo recalled the first time she saw a tampon and remembered her thoughts were “What?? It goes where??” and she was having the same thoughts seeing my pelvic floor toner! I’d love to know your first thoughts on seeing it?

What drives me in this quest is that there’s so much awareness that needs raising but I have to tell you, when I hear from a woman, who’s used my product, telling me “I’m pad-free, Julie!” I do a little dance!

It’s so rewarding to see my product changing women’s lives, especially when I’ve heard of ladies giving up sports or suffering relationships difficulties with their partners. There is also research to say if a woman starts urinary leakage after giving birth that can increase her likelihood of developing postnatal depression by 50% - these are figures we mustn’t simply ignore.

The importance of pelvic floor exercises

Jo and I also discussed the issue affecting all women, which led me to a 2001 study of women between the ages of 18-21 who were very athletic in which 40% admitted to having leakage issues. It’s so important, when playing high impact sports or running to engage your pelvic floor muscles. My recent exhibition experience at the National Running Show confirmed this. I know so many of you have taken up running during lockdown due to gyms being forced to close. Please, please when you’re out running pull up your pelvic floor - just a little so it’s not bouncing up and down like a trampoline - that’s where it can develop weakness.  

Jo asked me if boys had problems too, and although not as big as an issue for men, it was an interesting observation when exhibiting and meeting some really charming men who were very supportive of their partners but who didn’t realise that they had a pelvic floor too. Mentioning that if men didn’t look after their pelvic floor it could lead to erectile dysfunction and leakage issues , they certainly took notice! They’ll be lifting and clenching like the rest of us before too long!

Urinary incontinence in female runners

I recalled my experience at the National Running Show in January, which was shortly after my first “shout-out” on Chris Evans Virgin radio show, by Rachel Horne saying she’d had her first dry run since using Secret Whispers® after 3 weeks use, when we sold out of Kegel Kits by 11.30am on the first day! The overwhelming response from ladies was “Thank you for talking about it, I thought it was just me” and that’s what drives me to keep campaigning and talking openly. Ensuring women don’t feel like they’re going through this on their own - there is support. 

With all this talk of running, Jo asked me if you wear the kegel weights while you’re running? I do! It is an amazing exercise for your pelvic floor, however you need to build up your strength (remember I’ve been doing my kegel exercises since I was 14).

In the box and online the kit includes a 6 step programme, with the interchangeable weights gradually getting heavier in a safe way over a 12 week period. Once you’ve reached that stage, simply use them 3 times a week as maintenance. “I’m clenching while we’re talking!” says Jo - you can’t help it when you talk, read or listen about it - another great reason to talk about it to your friends and family.

Jo mentioned how different exercise in midlife is  as a post menopausal woman she asked me “Is it too late for me?” One of my favourite stories is of a lady in her late 60s who sent me a message saying her consultant had told her she’d need surgery and that she would need to give up her beloved Zumba classes. She was very anti the idea of surgery and to my joy she gave Secret Whispers a go…..  She became leak-free! She was so impressed she bought 1 for each of her 3 daughters to use to ensure they didn’t suffer in later life.

Talk about your pelvic floor 

If you could take a couple of simple actions from this blog :

  1. Talk to your friends about pelvic floors - that step may be the first opportunity they’ve had to speak about any concerns or challenges they may have
  2. Try and keep the conversation flowing to help others who may be struggling
  3. When we share our knowledge and banish the taboo of talking about your pelvic floor and possible embarrassing moments, we’re one step closer to banishing pelvic floor weakness.

It’s time to take back control and remember knowledge is power - be aware of what could happen so you can prepare yourself for it. 

Pelvic floor toner 

There is an exercise plan to follow that comes with the kit to keep you on track and accountable.

If you have any questions you’d like to ask about my Secret Whispers® Kegel Kit please comment below.

You can hear the Podcast here.

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