Why pelvic floor muscle training is so important
Urinary incontinence affects one in three women. So why are we so unwilling to talk about it?
We live in an age in which people share a lot about their lives, but most of us are still reluctant to talk about urinary incontinence. In fact, close to 50% of women have never spoken to a healthcare professional about their symptoms.
Urinary incontinence is a common, debilitating and not-so-talked about condition that can greatly impact your quality of life. Our team at the Pelvic Floor Research Group at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute has focused particularly on stress urinary incontinence (SUI) in women over the past decade, and this work has led to the development of the femfit® device and the 12-week Strength Builder Programme.
Many of us are likely to experience SUI: those moments when you laugh, cough, jump or sneeze—these can all place stress on your bladder and lead to unexpected leakage.
SUI is often perceived to be an inevitable part of getting older, genetics, or after giving birth. Typically, women manage with things like with pads or ‘leak-free’ underwear. These options are great for the sanitary pad and underwear market, but they also contribute to the normalisation of a condition that is not, in fact, normal. And while it's true that childbirth, menopause and ageing are all risk factors for SUI, they don’t make it inevitable.
Numerous studies, including our own, show that when done correctly and regularly, pelvic floor muscle exercises can reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence by up to 80%. But squeezing and lifting the right muscles is not a particularly intuitive exercise—we might, for instance, actually be exercising our abdominal muscles instead!
Correct technique is everything when it comes to pelvic floor training—it's really the key difference between resolving your symptoms, and not making any progress at all.
So how do you know if you're doing it right?
The femfit® difference
No two pelvic floors are the same, so we've developed femfit® with more sensors than any other pelvic floor trainer on the market—this technology helps us confidently find, measure and understand yours. This unique pressure sensor array doesn’t just measure the activation of your pelvic floor muscles while you're exercising—it measures abdominal pressure too, and delivers real-time feedback via the app for improving your technique.
How it works
Here's a video showing the muscles contracting during an exercise session. The pink/purple vertical bars represent your pelvic floor muscles, and the the grey bars represent abdominal pressure. The goal is simple—when exercising, keep the pink bars higher than the grey bars. If you're already using femfit® and you're not quite there yet, don't worry. This will come with time and a little practice! Head to our FAQs if you need some extra guidance for your exercises.
Our founding team has been in the field of pelvic floor health for more than a decade. We understand the embarrassment, stigma and silence that often surrounds urinary incontinence, and we're here to support and guide you to symptom resolution with our clinically-backed, 12-week programme.
Don't be afraid or embarrassed to seek help—you don't have put up with the debilitating discomfort and impact to your daily life. If you suffer from SUI, your GP or physiotherapist can help, or take our symptom checker to see if femfit® may be right for you. It's always worth taking those first steps, and it's rarely too late to reap the benefits.