About a week ago, I did a Facebook live with Isa Herrera to discuss pelvic issues in a really open and honest way. In that live we talked about peeing your pants, having intimacy issues, and even experiencing prolapse. Though these topics used to make me blush or feel embarrassed, it’s now something that I feel a lot more comfortable with. After launching my own Abs, Core, & Pelvic Floor program years ago, and talking with Isa about her expertise in helping thousands of women with pelvic issues, it’s now something I feel a lot more comfortable discussing. Not only that, I think the more open we are, the more women will know they are not alone with their pelvic issues!
This blog post will go through and paraphrase the highlights from that Facebook live, and if you’re interested in watching, you can do so here!
This is Isa
Isa Herrera is an integrative pelvic therapist and has a Master’s in Physical Therapy and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist. She’s written five books on the topic of pelvic health, and has nearly 15,000 healings under her belt. She helps women with leaking, pain, and pelvic heaviness. She’s hosting an online masterclass about, “5 Steps to Happier Lady Parts,” next week on June 12th & 13th, 2019 at 8PM EST that’s FREE and designed to offer tools and solutions for women experiencing chronic pelvic issues. You can save your spot for that class here!
I have known Isa for years, and when I started launching Abs, Core, & Pelvic Floor, I met Isa at a women’s networking conference. We clicked right away! We have really similar goals in just wanting to help women feel confident, and to spread the knowledge we have now that we wish we had known earlier. After the birth of her daughter, she had her own pelvic issues, and she felt embarrassed and lost, especially since she was in the health and fitness space professionally. In her own words, Isa helps women have happy vaginas!
My Background With Pelvic Issues
Just like Isa, my passion for this subject started with my own struggles. When I was doing workouts for my old business, Dollar Workout Club, I peed my pants on camera… like, really bad. It started as a little wet spot, and by the end of the workout, my entire butt was wet with pee, and you can see it in the video. I wanted that video to burn and never see the light of day, but years later it became the inspiration, and the vulnerability I needed to show, to get the Abs, Core, & Pelvic Floor program off the ground. It was the video that proved to all women out there that they weren’t alone, but there was a way to change it! Now I can jump on a trampoline, do workouts, etc. without a problem.
Not only that, but I also had a bad diastasis recti, which is just ab separation. I got really big when I was pregnant with my 10 pound babies, and it left me with a four finger separation between my abs. I still have a one finger separation, but I’m okay with that, and I discovered how to help that ab separation with workouts and started this program with my friend Monique, which has changed my life. All I want to do is to help other women who are going through what I went through, and Isa wants the same thing.
Chronic Sexual Pain
Isa: It’s really common for women to start experiencing pain after having a baby, or even before. There are 30 million women in the U.S. who experience sexual pain, that’s one in three women. That’s a lot! It causes women to feel disconnected to their body. Even 37% of collegiate athletes leak on themselves. These are not issues that happen rarely, it happens all the time! In my program, I offer tools and exercises to help with sexual pain as well as leakage for women of all ages.
What is Your Pelvic Floor?
Men and women both have a pelvic floor, and it’s right in the stomach region. It’s shaped like a bowl and it’s a combination of muscles, tendons, nerve endings, bones, etc. It holds up things like your bladder and your reproductive organs. Just like any other muscle, if your pelvic floor muscles aren’t being worked, they aren’t going to get any stronger. Even if you’re a fit person and your body is strong in general, it doesn’t mean your pelvic floor is strong. If you’ve never worked out in your life, but you decide to start doing bicep curls when you’re 50, your biceps will still get stronger. It’s the same for your pelvic floor, so you can still work on those muscles when you’re older, when you had a baby 10 years ago, etc.
For a lot of women, having a baby causes their pelvic floor to become weak. Having a 7, 8, or 10 pound baby sitting on those muscles can weaken them. That’s what happened to me, and both of my babies were 10 pounds, and I’d never worked out my pelvic floor muscles, and didn’t even know what they were. After the muscles are weakened, any force on those muscles, like a cough or a laugh, can cause you to leak. Tightening those muscles makes them stronger and better able to handle force and pressure put on them by a baby, jumping, or sneezing.
Isa: Many women just accept that that’s how things are after a baby. Women talk about peeing all the time after giving birth, and many women just accept that that’s how it is. However, these muscles are fantastic and can be strengthened at any point. They respond to many different meditations, stretching, etc., because they are so central to the body.
Honestly, your core is all interconnected. From your bra line to your hips, your core encompasses all of that. That’s why sometimes, even if you’re just trying to strengthen your pelvic floor, it can also help with things like back pain and posture.
Isa: Because it’s so connected, sitting is the new smoking for the pelvic floor. Your posture and being inactive can harm your pelvic floor just like it can harm your back. And that’s because everything in the core is so connected.
Isa helps women have happy vaginas!
Trying Therapy Before Surgery
Isa: There are so many women who hear that the only solution to diastasis problems, leakage, etc. is to get surgery. However, the NIH and the American Urological Society all say that the first line of defense should be conservative therapy before any surgical procedure. Why not try something less invasive first? Even before Botox in the vagina, or medication, it’s helpful to try therapy. It’s not a magic pill, but doing the work and practicing this type of self-care can do wonders for this problem. These exercises are natural and less invasive, and it’s preconditioning for your muscles.
We aren’t saying doctors are bad, and some people may need surgery, but these exercises are worth trying. There is hope!
Question: When I do crunches, I have a bulge sort of pyramid in the middle of my bellybutton region. It’s so hard to keep in. It started after having twins nine years ago.
- That’s really Common! It’s probably a diastasis. Your abs probably separated when you were pregnant with twins. There are some exercises available to bring your abs back together. Also, crunches are making ab separation worse, not to mention your pelvic floor. However, there are some exercises that can help.
What is Prolapse?
Prolapse is when the support system of your body eventually becomes weakened or breaks, which causes structures to fall out of their normal positions. Your uterus, rectum, bladder, urethra, small bowel, or vagina can prolapse. There are different stages of severity, and it’s actually pretty common for this to happen after giving birth, and many women have a stage one prolapse right after giving birth, which can cause bulging out of the vagina. Some women don’t even know. But others cause a lot of pain for women. Thankfully, pelvic floor exercises can help with a prolapse as well!
Isa: It’s not a life sentence, and helping your muscle to be strong, flexible, and supple can help a prolapse. Many women just accept that that’s their reality now, but that’s not the case. Some women may have issues sexually or with their confidence, but there are exercises to help.
Question: I don’t have leakage (surprisingly) but I have a moderate pelvic prolapse. Is there a way to bring that back into place with these exercises? I would like to have another baby, but I’m afraid I will intensify the prolapse.
- That’s a really common thing that we see with women. Even if you don’t have all of the symptoms associated with this area, like peeing your pants, or diastasis, or prolapse, these exercises can help any one of those problems. So yes, these exercises can help a prolapse. I’d recommend working on your pelvic floor before having another baby, because it can help with having an easier labor. Also, be aware of the breath holding during labor because that can affect prolapse. These exercises can help your prolapse, and it can help to prevent intensifying the prolapse with your next baby. It’s like preparing your muscles for a marathon, except you’re preparing your muscles for having a baby.
Treating the Whole Woman
Isa: My program is not just about treating the body, but it’s also about treating the mind. It’s about offering actionable tools and practical solutions for the body. It’s about listening to your body, and unleashing your queen! Womanhood is about encompassing everything from your job, your health, your body, everything. It’s not about having tight, perfect vaginas. It’s about feeling connected to your soul and everything connected to the pelvic floor, which is everything. It’s Grand Central Station!
Sex Issues Connected to Pelvic Problems
Isa: This is a hard topic for so many women, but tightened pelvic floor muscles can cause pain. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with you, it could be about scarring, nerves, tightness, etc. These muscles respond well to stretching and trigger point releases to help with sexual pain, or even pain with sitting, deep penetration, or orgasm issues. It’s very treatable with manual work and dilators, as long as you’re willing to do the work. I’ve seen so many women respond so well to that treatment.
Isa: In my program, I teach 11 different ways to do internal massage. That might sound like a lot, but it’s all the different ways to make things better for your vagina. It might seem good to be tight, and we hear that all the time, but that’s not the case, it’s better to be open and able to receive as to not feel pain and to be open to pleasure.
A Look Into Isa’s Client’s Experiences
Isa: The women who come to see me often don’t trust their bodies, or themselves. Many of them haven’t looked at their vaginas with a mirror, and feel uncomfortable with the idea of touching themselves and doing internal massage. They say their doctor sent them to me for pelvic pain, not for all of this! But it’s all a part of it. My goal is to teach women how to help themselves so they don’t need me anymore.
Isa: Once my clients get it, they send me gifts as a thank you for finally being able to have sex with their partner, or finally being able to have a normal pap smear without pain. They are usually uncomfortable at first, but the transformation happens where they begin to understand the progress they are making with their bodies. The biggest hurdle is to learn how to trust your own body.
It’s More than Kegels
Kegels is a great first step. If you’re trying to run a 5k, kegels is like speed walking. But pelvic floor health is so much more than kegels! Remember that it’s about the entire core, and kegels only work one part of the muscle and body systems that help the pelvic floor. It can be confusing to know what muscles to work or what to do, but it’s nothing to be embarrassed about.
Breaking the Stigma of Pelvic Issues
Something really great about Isa is that she talks about all of the embarrassing topics that are taboo and just has no fear about talking about it, she just does it! Instead of being worried about pelvic issues, if we all talked about it, it would help to break the stigma that all of us have about it. It would help to prevent a lot of women from sitting in silence with pelvic pain, having issues with incontinence, not being able to have sex, or even hurting just sitting down. If we all talk about it, we can help women find the tools to help make thing better.
If we all talk about it, we can help women find the tools to help make thing better.
Question: I’ve had pelvic pain since my bladder prolapse surgery in 2010 and I haven’t found any help. Do you have any suggestions for me?
- I think the best thing would be to do an assessment of your pelvic floor muscles. Sometimes when there’s a bladder prolapse surgery we do a lot of kegels, but really we should be relaxing and releasing some of the tension before doing kegels. Your program may not be perfect for your condition. The tension can make the pain worse. A dilator can help, belly work can help, you need to look at the scar tissue. But the biggest thing is to not lose hope. It might just be that your body will respond to a different technique than the one you’ve been using. But if you watch Isa’s webinar, it’s about 45 minutes and it’s free and you might get more insight on whether or not she is talking about things you haven’t tried yet. Don’t lose hope!
Question: Oh great you’re talking about dilation, what about other ways on how to help not get too big… any advice on the kegel balls?
- The first thing is that we want to make sure the pelvic floor muscles are supple and toned and balanced. Sometimes we think we are going to be big down there and that muscles won’t bounce back. They bounce back. Kegel balls are useful to help connect your body and your mind to help give you feedback on how your exercise is doing. Experimenting with different exercises is important, because some exercises don’t click or they take time. Every body is different, and sometimes different coaches or tools will make all the difference.
Question: What if you have bad scar tissue?
- The thing about scar tissue whether that’s from a c-section, hysterectomy, pelvic surgery, or even an appendix surgery, it affects the pelvic floor muscles because they are all connected. As long as it’s completely healed and you’re cleared by your doctor, you’d go in and do some massaging, or some yoga poses, or even normal stretching because it opens up the scar tissue. It’s important to feel for when the scar is releasing and relaxing, but you have to address it. I have a whole module on that in my program because c-section is so common. Scar tissue can impede pelvic power. Even if it’s been years, there’s no time limit on improving some of those issues.
Question: Can you do all this years after the c-section or is the main recovery window closed?
- Even if you’ve had your babies 20, 30 years ago, you can still improve these muscles. Even if you’re 50 and you’ve never worked out and you start working out your biceps, your biceps will get stronger. The same is true for your pelvic floor. Just know everything is fixable. What we focus on is what we will get more of. Nothing stays static, even scar tissue can be helped. Isa even has an 86-year-old in her program. It’s never too late. Take back control of your queendom!
Question: Where do we find these exercises you ladies are talking about?
- Isa has a free web class about all of these secrets! Find more information about it here!
Question: When I do squats my bladder hurts for days. My scar tissue has been worked on for 10 years. There’s no hope for me.
- Give yourself permission to have hope! I can’t imagine how frustrated you are, but there are so many women who have gone through Isa’s program, thousands, who have given testimonials about how much her program has changed their lives. Even if you try, and things can improve by 50%, it’s worth it. I don’t know your situation, and I don’t want to make false promises, but so many women have been helped with Isa’s program. It might not be fixed 100%, but it can maybe help improve it a little.
I hope that this discussion with Isa has been informational, eye opening, and maybe even a little humorous for you! Just know you’re not alone, and that there are tools to help you with any chronic pelvic issues you may have. Isa, alone, has helped thousands of women.
Here is Isa’s information:
Isa’s website: https://pelvicpainrelief.com/about/
Masterclass information: http://bit.ly/nataliehodsonhealing
Thank you Isa, and thank you to all of YOU!
P.S. There are even more questions answered in the comment section of the Facebook live if you’re interested in reading them. Visit the video here!