Janet Jackson famously sang “on and on it seems to go but you don’t know what you got till it’s gone” – this seems to be particularly relevant to the case of my pelvic floor. For most of my teens and twenties, I can safely say that I think I gave my pelvic floor zero thoughts. Having been a keen (albeit utterly crap) runner most of my adult life, a quick dash to the bathroom before embarking on a half marathon would suffice perfectly fine. An extra glass of water before heading out the door seemed like a normal thing to do – now it would put the fear of God into me. So what changed? I grew, carried and pushed out two baby boys.
After my first, Max, as soon as I got the all-clear from the doctors at my post-natal 6-week check-up I was lacing up my trainers and heading out the door – determined to find a piece of the original pre-baby me in my running rituals. But it is not an exaggeration to say that only a few minutes in and I genuinely thought my organs were going to fall out of my vagina should I carry on much longer. First lesson learned – start gently, be kind to your body and you’ll be rewarded by it in the end. So, I slowly built up my running practice over the course of the next year and was able to reach half-marathon distance once again.
Then a couple of years later I got pregnant with little JJ. From the moment my bump started forming I felt an enormous amount of pressure in my pelvic area. As the baby grew, taking up space from my bladder, I felt I needed to pee the whole time. And things in general just did not feel as sturdy down there. I realised that my pelvic floor needed work but I naively carried on always claiming to be too busy to address it. Then JJ was born in a flash (the labour was three hours) and that was when the real pelvic floor issues began for me.
I can no longer jump on trampolines. Not ever. Unless my bladder is completely empty I can not run without wetting myself even just a tiny bit. And once, when I was just standing in line at Leon, I peed myself. I knew I couldn’t ignore it any longer so I turned to British fem-tech brand, Elvie for help.
With products listed in TIME’s best inventions of 2019 and the sole focus of the brand dedicated to improving women’s lives through smarter technology, Elvie is pushing conversations forward, lifting the lid on issues to do with women’s bodies. The Elvie Trainer is an award-winning pelvic floor trainer recommended by thousands of health professionals including physios, obstetricians and fitness experts.
The Elvie Trainer is incredibly small and it’s super easy and not at all intimidating to use (plus it’s easy to pop in your handbag). I think as women we have neglected to think about our pelvic floors for such a long time that when it comes to paying them some attention it feels a tad uncomfortable. The absolutely brilliant thing about the Elvie Trainer is that it breaks down all those barriers. Once you’ve opened it up, charged it and downloaded the app the only thing left to do is insert it into your vagina. Using your mobile phone, the Elvie Trainer then walks you through a series of five-minute workouts, helping you train by gameifying your muscle contractions – and weirdly it is totally addictive. As you squeeze, the gemstone displayed on-screen lifts in real-time with the contractions allowing you to visualise the exercise. It then gives you tips on how to do better or even gives you praise when you’ve done well. Using cutting-edge patented technology, the Elvie Trainer directly measures force and motion in a unique way, unlike other Kegel trainers on the market. 30% of women push down when doing their Kegels, which can lead to damage. Elvie Trainer can detect incorrect contraction, alert the user to help them to improve their technique.
Some users report results in as little as four weeks. So there is still hope for me yet. I look forward to regaining my pelvic floor and my sanity with it. And maybe one day I might be able to bounce on a trampoline again.
Discover more by visiting Elvie.com
words by Sadie Reid