Better Me

9 Ways to Improve Your Pelvic Health

Pelvic health is an important part of a woman’s overall health and well-being, from bladder control to BMs (bowel movements) and sexual health to pregnancy

But guess what? Many of us don’t talk about it, especially when we may have problems down there. We may even chalk it up to “normal aging.” This silence can make things worse.

“It’s a tragedy that women suffer because they’re too embarrassed to talk about their pelvic health problems,” said John Heusinkveld, MD, a urogynecologist with Banner – University Medicine. “This means some women live with pain or discomfort quietly, without getting help.”

It’s time to cut through the silence. Let’s chat about why pelvic health is important for women and tips to keep your pelvic area happy.

Why should you care about your pelvic health?

Think of your pelvis as the epicenter of your body’s universe. It’s where the magic of life begins, whether that’s giving birth or simply enjoying a good belly laugh with friends.

“Pelvic health is a very broad term that covers the health and function of all of the pelvic organs and tissues, including the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries, bladder, vagina, the rectum and the muscles of the pelvic floor,” Dr. Heusinkveld said. 

You probably don’t give your pelvic floor much thought when things run smoothly. When your pelvic health isn’t in tip-top shape, it can cause discomfort or pain. 

“Factors like pregnancy, aging and lifestyle habits can affect pelvic muscles and organs,” Dr. Heusinkveld said.

Some common pelvic health problems include:

  • Pelvic organ prolapse: Think of your pelvic floor muscles like a strong net that holds up important organs in your belly. When the muscles and tissues in the pelvis weaken, organs like the bladder, uterus or rectum drop down and push against the vaginal walls. You may notice a bulge coming out of your vagina, experience uncomfortable pressure during sex and have problems pooping. 
  • Leaks (urinary incontinence) and retention (urinary retention): Your pelvic floor muscles also help control when you need to pee. If these muscles are weak, you might accidentally leak, especially when you laugh, cough, sneeze, run or jump. Or you could have the opposite problem – having problems emptying your bladder.
  • Pelvic pain: Pain in the pelvic area can be caused by many factors like endometriosis (when tissue similar to the lining of the uterus grows outside of it), fibroids (non-cancerous growths in the uterus)  or adenomyosis, which is when the uterine lining grows into the muscles of the uterus.
  • Menstrual disorders: Irregular periods, heavy bleeding or painful periods can affect pelvic health and might be caused by hormonal imbalances or other issues.
  • Sexual problems: Strong pelvic floor muscles are important for feeling good during sex. Problems can lead to a lack of sexual desire or pain during sex.

Ways to improve pelvic health

You may not be able to prevent some pelvic floor problems, but with a proactive and preventative approach you can reduce your chances of severe issues. 

Do pelvic exercises: One of the best ways to improve your pelvic health is to regularly do pelvic floor exercises. The most popular exercise is Kegels, but other ways to strengthen those muscles include Pilates, yoga and core exercises.

“The best way to learn pelvic floor exercises is to have at least one session with a pelvic floor physical therapist,” Dr. Heusinkveld said. “They can give you biofeedback on proper pelvic alignment and body mechanics.”

Avoid heavy lifting: Only lift heavy objects on your own if you have the strength. Get help when lifting heavy objects. If you lift weights in the gym, do so slowly and start with smaller weights. Engage your leg muscles instead of your back or pelvic floor muscles.

Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water throughout the day. It can reduce your risk for constipation and urinary tract infections and help with bladder health.

Go when you need to go: Try to use the bathroom whenever you feel the urge to pee or poop. Holding these in for too long can cause problems. “But avoid urinating ‘just in case’ when you don’t have the urge, as this may contribute to the development of an overactive bladder,” Dr. Heusinkveld said.

Try not to push too hard: Straining and pushing too hard during a BM can also cause problems like hemorrhoids. If you need to strain, it’s possible you aren’t drinking enough water or getting enough fiber in your diet. Drink plenty of fluids, eat a nutritious diet and exercise regularly. Talk to your health care provider if you continue to have problems.

Cut back on your vices: Caffeine, nicotine (smoking) and alcohol can weaken the pelvic muscles. Try to reduce your alcohol and caffeine intake. If you smoke, ask your provider for help quitting

Practice safe sex: Using protection can help prevent unwanted pregnancies and STIs (sexually transmitted infections) and also helps keep your pelvic region in good shape. STIs can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) and other pelvic health issues.

Just breathe: Belly breathing (diaphragmatic breathing) is a gentle way to work out the muscles in your pelvis. When you breathe deeply, your belly expands and your breathing muscles (diaphragm) move down. This movement puts gentle pressure on the muscles in your pelvis. As you breathe out, your belly goes back in and the diaphragm moves up.

Speak up: If something feels off down there, don’t ignore it. It’s always a good idea to talk to your provider if you’re having pelvic problems. They’re here to help and can offer guidance and treatment options. 


Taking care of your pelvic health is just as important as caring for the rest of your body. Understanding how to prevent problems and getting help if needed can keep your pelvic health in good shape. 

Keep the conversation about your pelvic health going. If you have problems or questions, make sure you talk to your health care provider or a Banner Health specialist

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Women's Health Wellness Urology Fitness Gynecology Physical Therapy