the pelvis Your pelvis is held together by a network of bones and muscles that work together to support your pelvic organs. Without knowledge of where they are and what they do, you can’t really focus on the pelvic region as a whole. Get in touch with it by taking the time to look at images and drawings. Examine the beautiful external parts of your pelvis to feel empowered, making it easier to recognize when something isn’t right. It can also help you speak with your doctor effectively about symptoms without being embarrassed.
pelvic pyramid Being aware of your “pelvic pyramid” of muscles can help you understand the importance of exercise and fitness. Stomach and back muscles deep inside you, in addition to pelvic floor muscles, can be exercised with great results. (Kegels address pelvic floor muscle strength—but they are only for adults.) Constipation, which is sadly chronic among girls and women, puts great stress on muscles, which can lead to bladder and/or bowel incontinence. A steady flow of water, fibrous foods, and exercise can alleviate symptoms. You can turn to natural remedies if extralong bouts of constipation aren’t relieved in a few days. Your vagina is selfcleaning, so there’s no need for spray or douching. In fact, no matter a product’s contents, they can throw off the natural balance of yeasts and bacterial organisms, not to mention being another source of urinary tract infections.
For more pelvic health information, go to womenshealthfoundation.org. To read about WHF’s book for adolescents, go to belowyourbelt.org. Here are some easy behavioral changes that can ensure a healthier bladder right away:
Sit all the way down on the toilet— hovering over it strains muscles and blocks the flow of urine, potentially fostering infection and pain.
Always wipe front to back so fecal matter doesn’t enter the urethra.
Limit caffeinated drinks and stay away from soda—which irritates the bladder and urethra.
And a big one: Don't go to the bathroom just in case. This means resist the urge to urinate “just because” you’re about to get in a car, sit in a meeting, or get some exercise. Just as your bladder needs to be completely voided, it also needs to fill all the way. Training your bladder, and your brain, will help keep the bladder muscle in shape, and end the messages your brain tells your bladder—that it needs to “go.”