By Sherrie Palm for Women's Health Foundation
I remind myself daily about maintenance—and maintaining muscle strength to prevent pelvic organ prolapse (POP) is no exception. I remember halfway through brushing my teeth to draw my pubococcygeus, or PC, muscle up and in. As I put my makeup on, a little voice nags at me to "pull it up, pull it in." When I blow-dry my hair and analyze my form in the mirror (oh, come on now, you know we all do it), I notice that I'm contracting my abdominals but forgetting to contract my pelvic floor.
As a grassroots women's pelvic floor health advocate, shouldn't I be doing all the right pelvic floor stuff all the time?
I recognize that I am a normal, average, typical woman: a woman with too many jobs to handle in a single day, a woman with more chores than can be addressed, a woman too tired to think about doing one more thing. But I also recognize that I can't ask other women to consider changing their pelvic floor health and habits if I can't address my own.
All the time I catch myself engaged in an activity where I should be contracting my pelvic floor to support it. All the time I pick up awkward or heavy boxes to shift them around my house and after I am halfway to where I am taking them realize that I have not been "holding it in and up." All the time I notice while doing simple everyday things that I am not contracting the bottom end. To say my pelvic floor awareness is a work in progress is putting it mildly.
It is important for women to recognize that none of us is perfect. We all do the best we can when we can. We each have unique physical baggage to figure out. My personal baggage is multiple sclerosis. I have days when the muscle fatigue is pronounced, and I recognize a distinct drop in muscle strength. But I still try to remember to do the right stuff. I still try to be aware of my pelvic floor and do what I can to contract it as well as I can as often as I can.
For each of us it is an individual work in progress. And it will always be a work in progress. And that's OK.
On the days I need to preach to myself about "doing the right stuff," I try to remember that I am human and that I will sometimes slip up. The most important thing is that I quickly get back on track. We are all works in progress.
Sherrie Palm is the founder, CEO and executive director of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support, a nonprofit foundation for pelvic organ prolapse support. She is also author of Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic, and a key opinion leader on pelvic organ prolapse. As a women's pelvic floor health advocate, she devotes her time to establishing recognition of pelvic organ prolapse and providing support pathways for women in various stages of POP. For relaxation Sherrie enjoys spending time in the woods and meadows of northern Wisconsin, walking with her dogs and taking digital photos of nature. For more info about APOPS or Sherrie Palm, visit Pelvic Organ Support.