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How to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles

How to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles

Your pelvic floor muscles form the bottom of your pelvis and support your pelvic organs (uterus, bladder, and bowel). Are you ever in the bathroom and someone barges in unexpectedly? You’re startled and you stop peeing! Or you keep yourself from passing gas at an inopportune moment? Thank your pelvic floor muscles! They’re also the muscles that can contract (tighten) during an orgasm. Here are tips to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. They are important to the wellbeing of anything south of your belly button!

How do I know if my pelvic floor muscles are weak?

Here are some tall-tale signs your pelvis could use a workout!

  • Leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or during physical activity
  • Passing wind when bending over or lifting (from the front or the back!)
  • Not being able to reach the toilet without an accident
  • Tampons that dislodge easily or fall out
  • Bulge at the vaginal opening 

How do pelvic floor muscles weaken? 

So we’ve talked about them possibly being weak, but how does it get there?

  • Pregnancy! The heavyweight of the uterus continuously for months. 
  • Vaginal childbirth and how it can overstretch the muscles
  • The weight of obesity 
  • Continuous constipation and straining yourself during bowel movements

How do I strengthen pelvic floor muscles? 

Good news! They can be strengthened! Like any other muscle in our bodies, with knowledge, patience and consistent work, we can fix a weak pelvic floor. 

Kegel Exercises. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first. To do Kegels, imagine you are sitting on a marble and tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re lifting the marble. Try it for three seconds at a time, then relax for a count of three. It’s recommended to do these a handful of times a day!

The key is to try not to use your abdomen, leg, or butt muscles when you contract your pelvic floor muscles. Exercising these muscles won’t help and will distract you from your mission! To find out if you are contracting your abdomen, leg, or butt muscles, you can place one hand on your stomach and your other hand underneath your buttocks or on your leg. Squeeze to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. If you feel your abdomen, leg, or butt move in any way, you’re using the wrong muscles. 

Squats

squat giph

Doing squats correctly is key to the movement engaging the right muscles… and avoiding injury! 

The Bridge 

bridge giph

Split Tabletop Stretch

split tabletop giph

This is a great exercise for anyone with back issues as you’re able to lie down and take the pressure off your back.

Bird Dog

 

Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles + a tilted uterus

Tilted, tipped and retroverted — all names for the same thing. If you have a tipped uterus, your uterus curves back towards your spine versus being relatively straight or leaning slightly towards your belly button. Studies show that weak pelvic floor muscles can help in the “relaxing” of your entire pelvic area, including contributing to a tipped uterus. 

A tilted uterus can cause pain during sex, problems with fertility, urinary incontinence, recurrent urinary tract infections and discomfort wearing tampons. 

Typically, someone with a tilted uterus has a cervix that sits lower in the vaginal canal. A lower cervix also has a few of the symptoms mentioned above: painful intercourse, and discomfort wearing a tampon. If you have tried menstrual product alternatives like menstrual cups or a menstrual disc, you probably have found those are difficult or uncomfortable too! 

Wait! Before you throw in the towel!

When wearing a menstrual disc, the lip of the disc catches the underside of the cervix and you “tuck” the opposite side of the disc behind your pubic bone. If you’ve tried this with no luck, you aren’t alone! Your cervix is altogether placed differently. If you have a tipped uterus and are attempting a menstrual disc, keep in mind that in most circumstances you won’t be able to catch the underside of the cervix. 

Tilted uterus regular uterus

When wearing a menstrual cup with a tilted uterus, you may find that because of your lower cervix, your cup sits much lower in the vaginal canal. This can actually be quite uncomfortable, depending on the width and depth of the cup. Here at Pixie Cup, we have created a cup, especially for a low-sitting cervix! Our Pixie Cup Luxe is shaped  differently compared to the traditional Pixie Cup and is meant to be worn lower in the vagina. It is purposely thinner and has a shorter stem so you don’t feel it for complete period freedom!

If you’ve had children, any sort of ultrasound or have had an IUD placed (or removed) your doctor is able to tell if you have a tilted uterus already. Some of us are just born with it and these pelvic floor exercises can be helpful! Share with us your experiences!

Head over to our online store to check out our Pixie Cup Luxe and other important menstrual cup products!

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PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor. You should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to your health and particularly with respect to anything related to menstruation, bladder issues, constipation, incontinence, etc. If you have any concerns about using a Pixie Cup, consult your doctor before use. If you have any gynecological conditions, please talk to your physician before using any menstrual cup.

Menstrual cups, Tampons and Vaginal Dryness

Menstrual cups, Tampons and Vaginal Dryness

How are you *down there* after your period ends? Does your body snap back to normal quickly? Do you find that if you are an avid tampon user you tend to be dry? Some studies suggest that tampons can cause vaginal dryness. 

tampon and menstrual cup

How do tampons cause vaginal dryness?

Chronic vaginal dryness usually is a deeper issue. It can be related to hormones, hydration, and your general pH + flora being in (or out of) line. However, tampons can exacerbate the issue. Tampons, in general, are an extremely absorbent material made to do just that… absorb. In turn, it absorbs everything… and we mean everything. The good, the bad + the ugly!

Here are a few ways tampons can cause vaginal dryness:

  1. You use a tampon the day after your period… just in case! Your body is at a crucial point the few days after your period. It’s working hard to restore the pH to normal and put everything in balance. By inserting a tampon at this time, you’re basically only absorbing the good stuff. Reach for a panty liner or a reusable pad instead if you’re worried!
  2. You only use one level of absorbency through your entire menstruation. While it’s tempting to buy the value pack loaded with supers or super plus tampons, there are different absorbency levels for a reason. Once your menstruation lightens, there is less to soak up, so a super tampon is absorbing more than your menses and is going to capture the normal vaginal fluids. By soaking up the good bacteria as well, you’re leaving your vagina susceptible to an imbalance, which can lead to multiple types of infections.
  3. You use scented tampons. It’s mighty tempting to use a scented menstrual product to help mask the smell during that time of the month, we get it! Added scents, fragrances, and perfumes are harsh on the vagina and can throw off the pH. 

Does a menstrual cup cause vaginal dryness?

The quick answer to this is a resounding no! Menstrual cups are made of medical-grade silicone and do not absorb any fluid at all. They are goblet-shaped and the concept is to be inserted in the vagina to collect (rather than absorb) period blood. Because they are made of materials like silicone and create airtight seals inside the vagina, menstrual cups don’t encourage bacterial growth, so concerns of Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) are diminished greatly. Especially when you’re sterilizing your cup or washing it with soap as you should.

Unlike tampons, menstrual cups can be worn worry-free for up to 12 hours! During the heavier days of your cycle, they will become fuller faster and may need to be emptied more often. Women are switching to menstrual cups for the freedom they offer, the protection they have + the comfort they give! But don’t take our word for it; here are stories from 17 women who made the switch.

tampons and menstrual cup vaginal dryness

How can tampons cause infection?

While we’ve mentioned Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS), tampons can lead to other infections such as bacterial vaginosis or a yeast infection. Unfortunately, both are caused by either an overgrowth or undergrowth of bacteria already present in the vagina. 

Here are some common ways a tampon can cause infection:

  1. You only wash your hands after insertion. Cleaning your hands after insertion only makes sense… you might get a little messy. However, being aware of what could potentially be on your hands before you insert is a big one too. 
  2. You don’t change your tampon every time you relieve yourself. Your tampon absorbs urine very quickly after going to the bathroom. At this point your tampon isn’t effective and is just hanging onto urine in your vagina. During a bowel movement, the muscles cause your tampon to shift or even come out partially. If the tampon catches any fecal matter, you could be headed for an infection.
  3. You forget to take it out. The last day of our cycle can tend to be light. Life gets busy and you realize a couple of days later you still haven’t taken it out! Toxic Shock Syndrome (TSS) is a serious condition related to bacteria overgrowth when a substance is left in your body for too long.
  4. You don’t change it after swimming. Like with urinating, your tampon has now absorbed all that excess fluid. This time, it’s bleach water from swimming in a pool or salt water from the ocean. 

How do I encourage vaginal health?

You’ve probably heard of pH levels in your body and having them run acidic or alkaline. Most everything in your body runs super-friendly while this is in balance. Your vagina is no exception! 

Drink lots of water. Being hydrated keeps your vagina happy. You experience a dry mouth as an indicator of dehydration and a dry vagina can mean that too. It’s recommended that you drink eight 8-oz glasses of water a day — more if you’re an athlete!

Take a probiotic. Probiotics and gut health awareness have come a long way in recent years. There are many different types of probiotics and many levels of potencies. Grab one from your local health food store that is geared toward “women’s health.” It will contain the unique strains that live in the vagina!

Avoid refined sugars. Yeast feeds on sugar, and an easy way to keep a yeast infection at bay is by minimizing refined sugars in your diet.

Avoid synthetic or tight clothing. We all own leggings. It’s hard not to! And yoga pants are a must! If you use these items for working out, be sure to change out of them as soon as you possibly can to rid your lady region of sweat + moisture, which would encourage bacteria growth.  

While we do not claim to be medical experts, we are here to help in any way we can! If you experience chronic vaginal dryness, it may be time to make an appointment with your gynecologist so they can run some tests and see what’s going on down there.

Have you thought about trying out a menstrual cup? We have a 100% Happiness Guarantee so if you don’t absolutely love your menstrual cup, we will refund you! What do you have to lose?

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PLEASE NOTE: This blog post is not intended as a substitute for the medical advice of your doctor. You should regularly consult a physician in matters relating to your health and particularly with respect to anything related to menstruation. If you have any concerns about using a Pixie Cup, consult your doctor before use. If you have any gynecological conditions, please talk to your physician before using any menstrual cup.

Sterilizing your menstrual cup

Sterilizing your menstrual cup

Sterilizing your menstrual cup is key to extending the life of your cup as well as making it safe to use. One of the best features of a menstrual cup is that it can safely be worn for up to 12 hours (this does depend on your flow as well.) With this in mind, a quick wash during the day is just fine… remember, we’re shooting for a low-stress, low maintenance period! 

With all the buzz about BPA and the rise of different reusable materials, it’s important to know what touches your body and what you put in it. Menstrual cups are made from a non-porous material like medical-grade silicone. This has taken the worry out of using it inside our bodies and is super easy to keep clean! Here are all the how-to’s! 

How do I clean my menstrual cup for the first time?

Yay! Your new menstrual cup arrives. You’re nervous and excited. It’s like a blind date. But messier. You’ve opened it, now what? Boil it! Boiling for approximately 5 minutes is a simple way to ensure your cup is completely clean and ready for use! Make sure your pot has enough water so the menstrual cup is able to float around.

Life hack: squeeze your cup into a whisk and submerge in the water. This protects your cup from harsh contact with the bottom of the pan, which could damage it.

Quick washing

Picking a wash that’s formulated both for the safety of your cup and for you is best. Check out our Pixie Cup Wash for a gentle option! The foamy soap is made from plant-based ingredients and is designed to not harm the vagina or pH levels. If our Pixie Cup Wash isn’t available to you at the moment, make sure you pick something that doesn’t contain dye, oils or harsh chemicals. Fragrances are also a no-no for our lady region!

  1. Rinse with warm water and apply cleanser. Rub around between fingers until yucky residue is gone. 
  2. Fill the cup with water and cleanser, place your palm over the top to create a seal and SQUEEZE! This forces water and soap to exit through the suction holes around the top. If stubborn stuff is still in the holes, dip a toothpick in rubbing alcohol and gently poke. 
  3. Keep your Pixie Cup Wash in the shower! Empty and clean your cup in there to keep the mess contained!

Cleaning agents to avoid:

scented/fragranced soap
dishwashing soap
bleach
oil-based soap
rubbing alcohol
anti-bacterial soaps
baking soda

Sterilizing your menstrual cup

Cleaning your menstrual cup with soap and water every time you empty your cup is just fine. However, when you’re wanting to put it away for the month or pulling it out to use, you need to sterilize. When done properly, sterilizing eliminates all bacteria so nothing continues to grow.  

Medical-grade silicone is quite cool. It’s gentle on us, yet rugged enough to have little staining and is heat resistant up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit. Boiling your cup is the most common way of sterilizing. If you don’t have a stovetop available to you, our Pixie Cup Sterilizing Container makes microwaving your menstrual cup super easy! Fill ¾ with water, place your menstrual cup inside and place the lid on top, but don’t snap it on completely. Leave a space so air can vent through safely.

Do you have roommates? Are you going to visit relatives soon? Or maybe you’re not keen on using the same kitchen items to boil the menstrual cup that you use to cook with! We hear you! The Pixie Cup Steamer is a quick 3-minute fix for sterilizing and can be done while you’re finishing getting ready or pouring yourself a coffee. It only takes a few inches of space on your bathroom counter or bedroom dresser. Be sure to follow the included directions to safely steam your cup. This is a great way to sterilize your menstrual cup without boiling.

How do I clean my menstrual cup in public?

Keep in mind, your Pixie Cup is designed to stay put for up to 12 hours, but life happens and we all find ourselves in less-than-desirable circumstances! Our favorite option for this is our Pixie Cup Wipes. Don’t carry a purse? These packets are slim so you can slip one in your wallet or clutch no problem! Our wipes are biodegradable and flushable so you can flush and go.

What about menstrual cup stains and odor? 

Sometimes no matter what we do, there is a lingering odor. Makes sense, right? Your menstrual cup has a dirty job! Making a quick odor-eliminating rinse with items you typically have in the house is an easy fix. 

Stains happen everywhere — on our favorite shirts, shoes, bags and you guessed it: our menstrual cups. Getting rid of stains is possible! We also shouldn’t underestimate the power of the sun that we have every day. Set your cup directly in the sun for the day and give it a good sun-soaking before you put it away in the dark for a month!

When do I need to replace my menstrual cup?

A menstrual cup is safe to use for up to 5+ years… technically. That being said, the care and keeping of your cup plays a heavy role. Make sure you’re sterilizing regularly and using the correct type of soap on your cup to prevent drying and cracking. If you notice any sort of cracking in your cup or the outside has become tacky to the touch, discard immediately. At this point, the silicone has been damaged and shouldn’t be used any longer. The most eco-friendly way of disposing of your menstrual cup is to burn it, believe it or not! Toss it into the woodstove or the next bonfire. It doesn’t produce toxic fumes and burns to a simple ash!

 

Our Pixie Cup Steamer takes the worry and work out of sterilizing your menstrual cup! Add water, place your cup, put on the lid + click the button. Now, put on some mascara and throw your hair in a top knot — go rock your day!

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