Menstrual Cycle – Role of Your Uterus

How do you feel about your menstrual cycle?  Love it?  Hate it?  Dread it?  Embrace it?

I would venture to say 90% of women would respond with “hate it” or “dread it”.  Why do we feel that way?  Is this pattern of thought destroying who we are as women?  Are there some people who really like their periods?  Yes!  I happen to be one of them—I didn’t used to feel that way but I do now.  My whole view on menstruation was that it was dirty, needed to be hidden, that you push through it and you suffer through it.  I now see how negative that view was and how that negative view was affecting me as a women, wife, lover, and mother.

God created menstruation–but for many it is not seen as anything God given nor blessed.

My hope is to help women embrace menstruation as God designed it, to not see it as something to endure but as something to honor and cherish.

We were created as bleeding women for a reason.  This is the whole reason why I am so passionate about women’s issues.

One of the products that has helped me learn to love my period is the Diva Cup. (I have no affiliation with this company, just love their product.) This great little device can be worn from 8-12 hours before it needs to be emptied, it is reusable so you aren’t dumping anything into the trash, it doesn’t contain harsh chemicals, and it is easy to use.

If you are a Diva Cup wearer, please share your stories here.  I would love to hear how this has changed your menstrual cycle for the better.

If you are NOT a Diva Cup wearer, I challenge you to try it.  You and your body just might like it.

Another thing that really helped my menstrual cycle seven years ago was Maya Abdominal Massage Therapy. I wanted to see if this type of massage therapy would help to realign and restore the center of my body after 3 births, 4 babies, and my constant battle with yeast infections.

When I went to my appointment I started with filling out a female intake form that asked me about my diet, my pregnancies, my menstrual cycles, my family’s history of disease, my activity level, etc.  I then went through an hour long call with the massage therapist, in which she dug a little deeper.

Through our conversation she hypothesized that my uterus was resting on my bladder, literally pushing my bladder down.  Your uterus is suppose to be 1 ½ inches above your pubic bone.  If this was the case it would explain many things I’ve experienced through my life such as a cystocele, sciatica, problems with my feet, heavy menstrual cycles, menstrual cramping, bruising on my legs, and yeast infections.  I’m discovering that the uterus is essential to a women’s total body health—which makes complete sense because the uterus makes us uniquely female.

The misalignment of the uterus can also contribute to the following things:

  • PMS/Depression prior to menstruation
  • Painful intercourse
  •  Painful periods
  • Late, early or irregular periods
  • Headache, migraine or dizziness with period
  • Blood clots and excessive bleeding
  • Difficult menopause
  • Chronic miscarriage
  • Premature deliveries
  • Difficult pregnancy
  • Fertility issues
  • Endometriosis
  • Polyps/Fibroids
  • Vaginal Yeast conditions
  • Uterine infections
  • Chronic indigestion or heartburn
  • Gastritis, Colitis, Crohn’s
  •  Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  •  Multiple food allergies
  • Low back ache
  • Frequent or painful urination
  • Bladder infection
  • Incontinence
  • Chronic skin conditions
  • Varicose veins of legs and hemorrhoids
  • Tired weak legs
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Diverticulitis
  • Sore heels when walking
  • Numb legs and feet (especially while standing still for a while)

A uterus that is tilted one way or another can also affect the thinning of the uterine wall which is menstruation.  A uterus that is not positioned correctly could potential shed the lining unevenly.  I also learned that the uterus is like a sponge and if it is tilted back toward the colon it can actually absorb fecal matter.  An indication of this would be brownish flow during menstruation—who knew!

The uterus also secretes estrogen, androgen, and progesterone—these hormones support sexuality, pregnancy, birth, and the ability to nurture others.

Since this appointment, I also learned that my very poor posture was a huge player in the misplacement of my uterus.  The key to good posture and good alignment for your uterus is to keep your front hip bone (ASIS) vertical of the pubic bone.  Slouching, high heels, and carrying children on your hip can all impact one’s alignment and the integrity of the uterus.  (Yes, ladies our cute high heels affect our uterus.)

Who knew the uterus was such an amazing and influential organ to the female body.  From this point on I will cherish this organ (my inmost being) so much more.

Can you Hold It?

If I asked you to hold “it” (the “it” I’m referring to is your need to go to the bathroom) for three hours, could you do it? Some of you might say yes, but only if you greatly sacrificed your intake of water. Others of you would answer, “no way.”

I used to be one of those people who could not go more than two hours without using the rest room. I was also one of those people who would go to the bathroom “just in case,” meaning even if I had gone to the bathroom 30 minutes before I was leaving my house to run errands, I would go “just in case.”

According to Fitness for the Pelvic Floor by Beate Carriere, PT, urination should look like this for most people.

  • Urination should occur every 2-3 hours (6-8 times a day).
  • It is normal for people over 50 to get up once during the night.
  • Most adults will urinate for 12-15 seconds, which means the bladder is full.
  • Urinating less means the bladder has gotten into the habit of emptying too quickly and has probably shrunk in size.
  • Tilting the pelvis forward during urination is often helpful.
  • The bladder will stretch up to 14 oz. without significant pressure inside the bladder.

In addition, she also says bowel movements should look like this:

  • Emptying the bowel usually happens 10-30 minutes or up to an hour after a meal, maybe once or twice a day.
  • It takes 45 hours for food to pass through your digestive system (Give this a test. Eat a handful of sunflower seeds, don’t chew them, see how long it takes for them to appear in your stool.)
  • Titling the pelvis back during a bowel movement is often helpful.
  • The pelvis can be titled forward during inhalation and backwards during exhalation to stimulate a bowel movement. Also twisting from side to side can help.

Next time you urinate, count how long it takes you. Is it longer than 12-15 seconds? If so, you are allowing your body to be full before emptying it. If not, you have likely trained your body to empty before it truly needs to do so.

One of the blogs that greatly changed my constant urges to go the bathroom was this blog by FemFusion Fitness called, Urinary Urgency: Avoid Going “Just in Case“. My mind was training my body about when I needed to urinate instead of my body signaling my brain.

If you are person who goes to the bathroom often, try this. Instead of having your mind tell your body when to go to the bathroom, let your body tell your mind. This is not easy. You will find yourself playing a little bit of a mind game, but keep at it. Eventually your bladder will start to be full and will signal your mind that you need to go.

I know several people who were going to try hold it longer and see what happened. For one person, after one week, they were no longer getting up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom.

I know that talking about how often you go to the bathroom is not a common conversation in daily life, but for those of you who are game, I would love to hear how you are doing with this.

Lastly, for those of you who have experienced UTI’s, I have a MUST read blog for you. I personally have never had one, but I have known many people who have had them. This blog .com just might be the missing piece you need from ever having a painful UTI again.

Heal Your Diastasis with Butt Exercises

During my research of a diastasis, I discovered that proper glute function is a key element of healing a disastasis. At first, this seemed odd to me as a diastasis is on the front side of the body, and the glutes are on the backside of the body. Why would something on the back side of the body impact something on the front side? The glutes act as a pulley system for the pelvis, thus minimizing how much the pelvis moves forward over one’s toes when standing.

Click here to gain further information on how the glutes act as a lever to pull the pelvis back over the heels.

Even if you think you have pretty good glute strength, don’t bypass this blog, because your glute strength is likely not as good as you think.

Try this. Stand sideways in a full length mirror. If you don’t have a full length mirror, have a friend evaluate you. When you stand, is the center of your pelvis over the heels or arch of your foot? If your pelvis is centered over the arch of your foot, you have glutes that are taking a vacation. (Note: Do you have flat feet, too? Our arches were not meant to carry the weight of our body, which causes them to collapse over time. Our heels were meant to carry our weight.

Warrior 3 and Chair Pose are great poses to test how your glutes activate during movement. Practice along to the videos below and notice how your body responds. Are your quads activating or your glutes? Or a little bit of both?

Bent Knees, Straight Knees, Locked Knees – What?

I used to be a compulsive knee locker. I also used to be a compulsive knee bender. Does this confuse anyone else, or is it just me?  I thought that the way to prevent locking your knees was to softly bend your knees; however, I have discovered you can still lock the knee caps in a bent knee position.  Anatomically, the quadriceps engage the patella upward, so you can bend the knee joint but also keep the quadriceps engage which will lock the knee cap in place.

Can’t really tell the difference can you? That is because bending the knee doesn’t automatically cause the knees to stop being locked.

This chronic holding pattern of having my knees locked (patella lifted) and thighs engaged explains so much about how my body has felt over the last 10 years. At times my knees give out or bother me. My quadriceps are always tired. Well, you would be tired too if you never got an opportunity to rest?

It took me months and months of practice to train my quads to stop engaging all the time. The video below from Nutritious Movement explains how the knees should align and how to learn to disengage the quadriceps all the time.

While going through this process, I realized that my left leg has a much more difficult time letting go, which explains why my left knee and hip bother me much more than my right.

These chronic holding patterns will eventually lead me to further joint issues and possible knee replacement or even osteoporosis.

One of the biggest reasons for my quadriceps not turning off is due to imbalances with my glute engagement (butt muscles). I have found that most people think they have strong glutes, but the fact is, their glutes don’t know how to turn on—meaning, they do not fire when needed, which makes other muscles like the quadriceps kick in instead.

Our glutes can shut off for several reasons, one of which is standing improperly. If you stand with your hips forward (towards the front of the foot), you have turned off your glutes. Active glutes work as a pulley system to draw the pelvis back.

When we continually walk and stand with bent knees, that also is an indication of turned off glutes. When your glutes are strong, they will draw the pelvis and knees back so you can fully extend your legs.

Here are a few ways to determine if you have weak glutes:

  1.  Look at your posture in a mirror. Do you stand plumb with your pelvis over your heels? If not, you have weak glutes. 
  2. When you get in and out of a chair, do your knees come towards each other? If so, you have weak glutes.
  3. When you perform a squat, do your knees stay stacked over your ankles? If not, you have weak glutes.

The following exercises will help strengthen your glutes.

Why I Ditched Kegels

Pelvic floor health is something I have had a passion for ever since the birth of my first child. After my daughter’s birth, my pelvic floor was just not the same. Jumping and trampolines made me nervous.

At my post-natal follow up, I found I had a cystocele, which is a slight drop of the vaginal wall.  As I searched how to correct my pelvic floor dysfunction, the unanimous answer was Kegels.

Here is a little history on Kegels.

Kegels were first published in 1948 by Arnold Kegel. A Kegel exercise is to repeatedly contract and relax the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor. The aim of Kegel exercises is to improve muscle tone by strengthening the pubococcygeus muscles of the pelvic floor. For four years, I did Kegels on and off to correct my pelvic floor issues and I saw no change. I thought this was due to having my children too close together, not having enough time to heal, and not doing enough Kegels.

What’s the matter with the Kegel?
When muscles are too tight, they are just as ineffective as muscles that are weak. Kegels often over work the muscles of the pelvic floor, which causes them to shorten. As the pelvic floor shortens, it begins to draw the sacrum towards the pubic bone (front side of the body). This movement creates slack in the pelvic floor muscles, which makes the center of it sag downward. In addition, the pull of the sacrum forward can cause lower back pain. Anyone have an increase in lower back pain since doing Kegels on a regular basis?

Kegels are a short-term solution to a whole body problem. Practicing the tips below are much more effective in healing pelvic floor disorders than any amount of Kegels. Kegels are good for creating a mind/body relationship to the muscles in the pelvic floor and during intercourse, but that is about it.

If you want to understand more about why a Kegels should not be the only part of your pelvic floor repair work, check out this great blog post.

So if the Kegel is not good for the pelvic floor, what is?

  1. Align your pelvis

2. Align your feet and stretch the legs

3. Standing more (but in good alignment)

4. Stop sucking in (let your belly be a belly and hang out)

5. Start healing your diastasis recti

6. Learn how to engage your transverse abdominal muscles correctly

This book is also a life saver for understanding how to heal pelvic floor disorders and disatasis recti.

How to Align Your Shoulders

In the yoga world I hear these words a lot, “draw your shoulders down and back.” The cue is meant to help align people’s shoulders but what I have seen in bodies is that it causes people to excessively pull their shoulder blades back and also causes them to push their ribs forward.

If you have always tried to align your shoulder by drawing the down and back but yet you still have chronic neck and shoulder tension, that means something is unbalanced. Likely this imbalance is due to the shoulder being in the incorrect position.

Listen to the video below to find out more about how to think through aligning your shoulders.

The following DVD by Nutritious Movement was such a helpful resource to me when I was trying to understand how to effectively align my shoulders —From the Shoulders Up.

How To Align Your Pelvis

The number 1 tip that I give to people who are working on healing their diastasis recti is to correct their pelvic alignment. Your core muscles cannot do their job well when the bones of the body (pelvis) are incorrectly position. Think about buying a house. When you look at a house one of the main aspects you look at is the foundation and the structure. You want to know if it is sound or if it is in need of repair.

Your pelvis is a major structure for supporting your core. If your pelvis is not in the proper position, it does not allow the core muscles to activate properly and it can also weaken the linea alba which is the connective tissue between the rectus abdominal muscles. When healing your diastasis recti it is important to allow the core muscles and the linea alba to be in the best position.

Check out this short video below on how to align your pelvis when standing, sitting, or lying on your back.

How do I know I have a Diastasis Recti?

Checking yourself for a diastasis recti is very helpful in understanding how to create a healthy movement lifestyle. Take a couple of minutes to find out if you have a diastasis recti now.

Additional Resources:

Learn more about my diastasis journey.

Build a butt to help with a diastasis.

Check out our diastasis safe movement videos.

I have a what??? – Diastasis Recti

In May of 2012, I started to notice that my belly was not going away after having my twins in February of 2011.  I know that our bodies change after pregnancy, especially when you have 3 of them.  However, something was just not sitting right with me about my belly, so I started to do some investigating.  I’m not sure what fueled my desire to explore this more, my own vanity or curiosity of the human body.

As I researched, I came across my answer—diastasis recti.  What?  Exactly!  In all my 10-plus years in the fitness world, I had never heard of this. The more I researched, the more curious, frustrated, and even angry I became. A diastasis recti is the separation of the rectus abdominis (the “six pack” muscle). When this occurs, the integrity of the rectus abdominis has been lost and weakened.

Again, I am not sure which fueled my desire to fix this–vanity or curiosity of the human body, but I was determined to get to the bottom of this.

Below are some before and after pictures of my belly.  I am sharing these pictures as a way to show measureable differences in my belly as I started to make some changes in how I carried my body.  My goal was to see if the changes I was implementing were actually helping and when I discovered that they were I decided to share it with each of you.

The first set pictures I took of my belly in August of 2012.  You will also notice various comments next to the pictures.  I’m adding the comments as a way of evaluated the anatomical elements of my body.  My comments are not meant to as a way of shaming my body.  No matter what one’s body looks like, we are beautifully and wonderfully made.  So knowing that, why did I want to fix my diastasis?  Well, because a diastasis is a result of me not taking care of my body well.

Front view: notice how the belly is rounded,  to some people they may think I look pregnant .
Side view: notice how the belly is pushed forward, the lower part of my ribs are pushed forward which results in a fold of skin in my middle back, and again one may think that I am pregnant

After these pictures, I began the work of correcting my diastasis.

Step 1: Learn how to get up and down from the floor without stressing the rectus abdominal muscles by rolling to my side and using my arms to press me up into a seated position.

Step 2: Change my entire mindset on abdominal strengthening and avoid/stop doing many things I thought strengthened my abs like crunches, sit-ups and even plank pose. (More to come on this topic as this was the most difficult step for me.)

Step 3: Change my alignment. Position my pelvis over my heels and stop pushing my rib cage forward. Find out more here about proper alignment.

Step 4: Find my transverse abdominal muscles and start working them (Yes, even my experience and training as a Pilates Instructor failed to teach me this).

Step 5: Accept the fact that reworking my muscles that have forgotten what to do takes time.

Step 6: Be patient and keep working on my alignment and my transverse abdominal muscles.

Here are my pictures two months later:

Front view: notice the rounding of my belly has decreased .
Side view: notice how the belly is not as pushed forward and my lower ribs are not as thrust forward which decreases the fold of skin in my middle back.

Now onto my side view from December 2012, another few months later.

Side view: notice how my belly is now inside my pelvis and not forward, my ribs are no longer thrust forward and the fold of skin in my middle back has significant decreases to the extent that it is gone .

During this process I lost a 1/2 inch on my waist and gained a whole lot of awareness on how to take better care of my core/body.

Below are my most recent photos as my journey with healing my diastasis is on-going—which is the story for many people.

Front View: There is not a huge change from October 2012 until April 2019. However, I consider that a huge victory because it means I have not slipped back into back habits.
Side View: Besides the addition of a tattoo on my side, you can see I have gained a little more tone but otherwise there is not a huge difference since December 2012. One may think that I should have a lot more notable changes since then, well during these last 7 years I have dealt with adrenal fatigue, poor sleep, poor eating habits, and other health things that have impacted the health of my body. Healing is a journey of many parts.

Check out our diastasis safe movement classes.

Healthy Feet #7 – Stand with Your Feet Parallel

Notice the position of your feet at various times during the day. When you look at them, are they parallel?  Or are both feet turned out? Or one foot turned out? Are the legs parallel or do you stand with a hip popped out? Awareness is the first step is correcting foot alignment

Once you observe how you naturally stand, the next step is to learn how to bring your feet into correct alignment to positively support your body. Your feet impact all of the aspects of our health.

Strive daily to stand with your feet parallel—when you stand in line, when you watch dishes, when you walk, when you work out, etc.

The following video will break down how you align your feet when standing in mountain pose (aka: standing tall).