Take care of your uterus as it's one of the most important organs in reproduction. It's made out of smooth muscle, which you can't control consciously. Even though you can't strengthen smooth muscle, you can strengthen the things that surround it. To protect your uterus, strengthen your pelvic floor muscles with certain yoga poses and Kegel exercises.
The uterus resembles an upside-down pear that sits above the vagina. It's a critical organ in reproduction and acts as the womb when a child is conceived. While the fetus develops, the uterus will nourish it and help it grow until birth. Beneath the uterus is the cervix, which can close or open to control what passes between the uterus and vagina. Below the cervix is the vagina.
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There are three layers of the uterus. The first layer is the endometrium and responds to hormonal changes. This is the layer of the uterus that is shed during menstruation. The myometrium, the middle layer, is made up of mostly smooth muscle and is the thickest part of the uterus. It gives the uterus the ability to push a fetus out. The final layer is the perimetrium, which is a thin layer of tissue that envelops the uterus.
Normally, the uterus is held up by muscles, tendons, and ligaments. However, if these weaken or if the uterus itself weakens, it can prolapse. A prolapse is when the uterus falls down through the cervix. It will go down into the vagina and sometimes is visible from the outside.
If you're a post-menopausal woman or if you've had more than one vaginal birth you're at risk for a uterine prolapse. A post-menopausal woman is going through a change in hormones that drops her estrogen level. This makes the walls of the uterus weaker and more prone to a prolapse or other injury. Giving birth puts you at increased risk because it can stretch out muscles, tendons, ligaments and even your cervix. Any activity that increases pressure in your abdomen, like coughing or lifting weights, can also cause a prolapse if your pelvic floor muscles are weak.
If you have a prolapse, it can be tough to tell. There are some key symptoms that indicate a problem. You might have a feeling of heaviness in your pelvis, or feel like you're sitting on a small ball. There may be tissue protruding from the vagina as well. If you think you have a prolapse, make sure you see a doctor. To prevent a prolapse, try some of these yoga moves to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles:
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During this yoga pose, you use your pelvic floor to stabilize the hips. For an added pelvic floor workout, put a soft object like a ball, folded towel or yoga block between your knees and squeeze it as you do your reps.
How To: Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet planted. Press your butt into the air by pressing your heels into the ground. Press your hips up as high as you can and hold them at the top, squeezing your knees toward each other if you have a block between them. Hold for several breaths Then, slowly lower back to the ground.
Tilting your pelvis backward in this exercise puts your pelvic floor in a better position to contract, which helps them strengthen.
How To: Start in an all-fours position with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Round your back, tuck your chin
This is a standing pose that you can use to develop your pelvic floor muscles by doing a Kegel. To do a Kegel, squeeze the muscles of your pelvis, which are the same muscles you use to prevent yourself from peeing.
How To: Plant your feet on the ground next to each other. Stand tall. Reach your hands down to the ground with your palms facing forwards. At the same time, lift your head up and spread your shoulders to stick out your chest. As you do this, squeeze your pelvic floor by doing a Kegel or place a yoga brick or foam roller between your knees and squeeze that. Take several deep breaths.
Practice using your leg muscles while squeezing your pelvic floor muscles in this functional squatting exercise.
How To: Start standing with your arms overhead. Squat down with your feet flat on the floor. Go down as far as you can, trying to get your thighs as close to parallel with the ground as possible. From here, either perform a Kegel or squeeze a ball between your knees. Hold for five to 10 breaths.