Pelvic Pain Travel

Pelvic Health Guide for A Pain-Free Summer

Summer is a time of fun, sun, and adventure. Whether you’re traveling, engaging in outdoor activities, or simply enjoying the warm weather, you don’t want pelvic pain to ruin your good time! With the right tips and practices, you can manage and even prevent any pelvic issues that may pop up. To help you get the most out of your summer with the least amount of pain, I’ve created a guide to keep your pelvic health in check this summer!

Image of a woman sitting on a stone wall with a summer hat in her hand.

Understanding Pelvic Health

Pelvic health encompasses the well-being of the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, bowel, and reproductive organs. Issues such as urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, and sexual dysfunction can arise from weakened or tight pelvic floor muscles. These problems are common among women, particularly those who are postpartum or menopausal, but they can also affect men.

Pelvic pain can manifest in various forms, from a dull ache to sharp, stabbing sensations. It may occur during intercourse, urination, or even simply sitting or walking. While occasional discomfort can be normal, persistent or severe pain warrants attention.

And you should note: pelvic pain is not uncommon! Studies show that around 16% of women experience pelvic pain (though, one could wonder if that percentage is low considering how often pelvic pain is dismissed or downplayed…). The “why” behind the “what” of vaginal pain can often be complex. There is often a mixture of causes at play that need to be addressed. If you want to learn more about pelvic pain, check out this article: Navigating Vaginal Pain: A Guide for Busy Women.

Image of a woman wrapped in a blanket outside.

Surviving (& Enjoying!) the Summer: “How-To Guide”

1. Stay Hydrated

Importance of Hydration: Proper hydration is crucial for overall health and particularly important for pelvic health. Dehydration can lead to concentrated urine, which may irritate the bladder and exacerbate symptoms of urinary incontinence​.

Tips for Staying Hydrated:

💧 Drink Plenty of Water: Aim for at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water a day. Increase your intake if you’re active or spending a lot of time in the sun.

🍻 Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol: These can dehydrate you and irritate the bladder, especially on hot, summer days in the sunshine! Opt for water, herbal teas, or electrolyte drinks instead.

🍉 Eat Hydrating Foods: Incorporate fruits and vegetables with high water content, such as watermelon, cucumbers, and oranges, into your diet.

2. Manage Bathroom Breaks

Planning Ahead: When traveling or spending long periods away from home, plan your bathroom breaks to avoid urgency and accidents. Knowing where you can pee may reduce stress and discomfort, too! ,

Bladder Training: If you experience urinary urgency, bladder training can help. This involves gradually increasing the intervals between bathroom visits to improve bladder control​. To learn more about the connection between pelvic pain and bladder issues, check out my Youtube video!

Image of a woman holding a water bottle.

3. Engage in Pelvic Floor Exercises

Benefits of Exercise: Regular pelvic floor exercises, such as Kegels or mindful stretching, can strengthen the muscles, reduce symptoms of incontinence, and enhance sexual function.

How to Do Kegels:

  1. Identify the Muscles: Try stopping the flow of urine mid-stream. The muscles you use are your pelvic floor muscles. (Note: don’t make a habit of doing this as an exercise! There are healthier ways to practice using those muscles.)
  2. Exercise: Find a quiet spot to sit. Try to tighten these muscles for 5 seconds, then relax for 5 seconds. Repeat 10-15 times, three times a day.
  3. Incorporate Breathing: This is a crucial piece – focus on your breathing while doing the exercises to reduce tension and improve effectiveness​.

For more information on Kegels and how to do them, read through this guide: Kegel Exercises – Am I Doing It Right? Or, if you want a guided pelvic floor routine, follow along with me as I do back some stretches in a pelvic opening routine on YouTube!

4. Stay Active

Physical Activity: Research shows that regular exercise is vital for maintaining a healthy weight and improving pelvic floor function. Incorporating gentle exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga into your routine to may promote blood flow to the pelvic region and improve muscle flexibility.

Choose Low-Impact Exercises: High-impact activities like running can strain the pelvic floor and may exacerbate pelvic pain. Instead, opt for low-impact exercises that still provide a good workout without excessive pressure on the pelvic floor muscles.

Image of two people doing yoga together.

5. Address Constipation

Preventing Constipation: Straining during bowel movements can weaken the pelvic floor muscles and lead to issues like prolapse and incontinence.

Tips to Avoid Constipation:

🍑 Eat Fiber-Rich Foods: Include whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and legumes in your diet. These can help promote bowel movements.

💧 Stay Hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep stools soft. (Again, especially important in hot weather!)

🏃🏽‍♀️‍➡️ Exercise Regularly: Physical activity helps get things moving inside, too! Regular activity can help push things through.

💩 Don’t Delay: If you feel the urge, respond to it! Allow your body the opportunity to follow through on what it is sensing.

6. Manage Stress

Impact of Stress: Stress can worsen pelvic health issues, including pelvic pain and incontinence. Managing stress through relaxation techniques can be beneficial.

Stress-Reduction Techniques:

  • Breathing Exercises: Practice deep breathing or meditation to relax the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Mindfulness and Yoga: Incorporate mindfulness practices and gentle yoga to reduce stress and improve pelvic health​.

To learn more about the connection between stress and the pelvic floor, dive into this article: Why You Can’t Just “Relax”: Treating Vaginismus.

Image of a woman eating bowl of food.

7. Use Pelvic Health Products

Innovative Solutions: Products such as pelvic floor trainers and smart devices can aid in strengthening the pelvic muscles. These devices provide real-time feedback and personalized exercise plans to help you maintain pelvic health.

Examples:

  • Pelvic Floor Trainers: Devices like Perifit connect to an app and guide you through exercises.
  • Biofeedback Devices: Kegel balls, Yoni eggs, and vagina weights can provide biofeedback! These help monitor and improve your pelvic floor muscle contractions​.

8. Prepare for Summer Travels

Travel Tips: Traveling can be challenging if you have pelvic health issues, but with some preparation, you can manage your symptoms effectively.

Practical Advice:

  • Pack Supplies: Carry absorbent pads, medications, and any necessary pelvic health devices.
  • Stay Comfortable: Choose comfortable seating arrangements and plan for regular bathroom breaks.
  • Exercise During Travel: Do simple pelvic floor exercises and stretches during long trips to maintain muscle strength and flexibility​.

Read through my guide for travel preparation for more advice: Travel Tips for Pelvic Pain: How to Prepare & Adventure with Ease!

Image of a couple packing for travel.

Bonus Tip: Seek Professional Help

When to Seek Help: If you experience persistent pelvic pain, incontinence, or other pelvic health issues, consult a healthcare professional. A pelvic floor physical therapist (like me!) can provide tailored exercises and treatments to address your specific needs.

If you’re curious what to expect in a first session, I’ve laid it out for you here: Pelvic Floor Therapy.

Finding a Specialist: If you’re in the Seattle-area, please reach out! I’d love to help. If you’re not in my area, you can use resources like the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy or Pelvic Rehab to locate qualified professionals in your area​.

Image of a woman holding a dog while on a road trip.

TL;DR: Summer Survival Tips

Maintaining good pelvic health is essential, especially during the busy and active summer months. You don’t want pelvic health to keep you down! By staying hydrated, engaging in regular pelvic floor exercises, managing stress, and seeking professional help when needed, you can enjoy all that summer has to offer without discomfort or worry. Remember, taking proactive steps to care for your pelvic floor today can lead to a healthier, more comfortable tomorrow. Hole health is whole health!

Watch My TEDx Talk!

Did you know I gave a TEDx Talk about pelvic health?

One in five women experience pelvic pain, and the root isn’t just stress–it’s a lack of permission. Pelvic health is “hole” health and whole health! In this talk, I address intimate health issues and provide practical solutions for pelvic pain. I also emphasize the importance of understanding pelvic health as a critical aspect of overall well-being.

This talk was given at a TEDxAnchorage event using the TED conference format but independently organized by the local community.

Square image of Dr. Darshana giving a TEDx talk.

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