Intimate Health: obligation or fascination?
‘You need to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles!’, ‘Are you doing your kegels?’...You may have heard these phrases before and very often it seems like if we are not tending to our private parts, not working with jade eggs or not exercising our pelvic muscles we are failing as women (and men).
If you have never heard of the jade egg, are you even allowed to call yourself a modern goddess? Well, yes you most definitely are allowed!
Unfortunately intimate health is not a very mainstream part of our education and when it is taught it often comes with a lot of fear based information about all the issues we can attract in this area and the deep shame surrounding it. So let’s start with some re-education :)
At the base of our torso we have a complex array of muscles which together are called the Pelvic Floor.
Science knows that this area, also called our pelvic diaphragm, has an essential role to play in relation to our urinary organs, sexual function, reproductive health and even our breathing.
Eastern traditions also tell us that it is the very source of our creative energy; our innate life force.
As such it is a key center of our health, well-being, flow and creativity and yet it is still quite the unknown “down there” zone for many people. So let’s shed some more light on this truly fascinating part of the body.
WHAT ACTUALLY IS THE PELVIC FLOOR?
The pelvic floor has the form of a diamond shaped hammock and is spread between the
pubic bone in the front, the tailbone in the back and the two sitting bones on the sides. It actually closes the torso from below and as such it has a very important function in supporting all abdominal organs. Not only does it span the bottom of the torso, it also consists of three layers:
Pelvic diaphragm, or ‘levator ani’: the deep layer of the pelvic floor: holding all internal organs up, mainly holding the anus up. It also supports the organs when any pressure is put on them, such as coughing.
Perineal membrane: the second layer, which mainly brings stability in the pelvic floor. This is where we find the famous perineum. You could see this layer as the sticks holding the tent in place.
Urogenital triangle, the most superficial layer which lies in the front. This layer brings stability to the genitalia and plays an important role in our sexual functioning.
Isn't it incredible that all that intricate functioning is present in the very base of our torso??
Studies show us that A LOT of people actually suffer from pelvic health issues. Many of these issues go unreported as it unfortunately is still an area of the body that tends to be subject to taboo and a lot of shame.
These are issues that can strongly affect someone’s quality of life, and very often they are actually not that hard to solve. As everyone deserves to feel supported and safe inside their own body, let's support awareness!
Incontinence for instance: studies done in a number northern European countries showed numbers as high as 48% of women experiencing incontinence. Nearly 50% of ALL women not always being able to control the flow of urine! Imagine how that would impact someone’s quality of life. And this is just one of the many pelvic health disorders; what about chronic pain syndromes, impotence, prostate health problems, pelvic organ prolapse and many others?
CAUSES FOR PELVIC ISSUES
There are many reasons for Pelvic Health issues to occur. They can be purely physical, due to things like infections, pregnancy, poor posture, poor breathing, trauma and strong physical performance. Energetically the eastern traditions tell us that this area is governed by the lower two chakras and hence that we can also look at energetic imbalances or stagnation. Furthermore, studies even show us that more mental-emotional issues also strongly affect the pelvic floor. A tiny overview of this vast research:
Shapiro was one of the first researchers to define premature ejaculation as a psychosomatic disturbance in 1943.
In 2001 a study showed that an increase of pelvic floor muscle activity is part of a general defense mechanism which occurs during threatening situations.
Researchers in the last decade have also started to link disgust with sexual dysfunction leading to a multitude of sexual pain disorders
WHAT REALLY IS PELVIC HEALTH?
Answers to this can be widely subjective. My personal preference - which is indeed still subjective but at the same time humbly based on working with many different people and pelvic health disorders over the years - is:
DEEP AWARENESS OF THE PELVIC AREA AND THE ABILITY TO USE IT HARMONIOUSLY AND AT WILL.
This can mean for instance:
The ability to contract and relax the pelvic floor muscles at will.
For a man the ability to ejaculate when he desires it. Maybe this is within a few minutes, maybe this is only after a few hours, but to be able to decide this for himself.
For both genders to be able to make love without pain or discomfort, or even to choose celibacy without it leading to mental-emotional pain.
For a woman (or a man) to be able to control the flow of urine or feces for moments when it is appropriate and which don’t lead to embarrassment or discomfort.
And so forth.
AWARENESS IS KEY
As people are often quite disconnected with this area of the body, the first step is to increase awareness and loving connection with the pelvic floor. If awareness or connection is lacking, it will be challenging to know if the muscles are relaxed, engaged, what to strengthen, to know how to control and manage any pain that may be arising in the area or even which mental-emotional situations are influencing us.
Do we need to wait till we experience some issues in this area in order to connect? It is true that for most of us growing up pelvic health was not really part of our standard curricula, so maybe we only really become aware of this area when there is pain or discomfort.
Fact is however that this is the very center from which we create actual life forms! The Eastern Taoist tradition even says that it is the very centre of our life force! Pretty sacred, don't you think? Maybe we can indeed allow the Eastern traditions to inspire us a little bit more here.
Awareness creation doesn’t need hours of investment every day. It can be as simple as lying down and becoming aware of the breath. Inhaling deeply and as you inhale directing the breath into the pelvic floor. Use an anchor point that helps the mind to relate to this area; such as the sitting bones, the pubic or tailbone, the perineum, the genitals, whatever supports you most..and breathe. Slow energizing inhales, long relaxing exhales. This will not only gently support a deepening of your connection with this fascinating and very important part of the body, it will also bring deep relaxation into the being.
Wishing you a beautiful pelvic journey!
*Editor’s note: we offer in- depth explorations of Pelvic Health and Intimate connection in our ‘Awakening Intimate Health’ workshops. You are warmly welcome to join any of them. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for event updates.