Condoms and Lubricants for Pelvic Floor Health

Itchiness or burning sensation after sex? Frequent UTIs? Chronic yeast infections? TTC? Using contraception? Whether you are trying to conceive or in the height of contraception, understanding the pros and cons of condoms and lubricants can help you enjoy sex without the negative side effects.

Condoms and Lubricants to Support Pelvic Floor Health

I don’t know about you, but I didn’t initially think about what goes into a condom. I’m normally pretty thorough when it comes to looking at what I put in and on my body but for some reason condoms and lubricants weren’t high on my list of things to look at. But then a time comes that you learn more information and you are able to do better. Below are a list of Ingredients to avoid in condoms and lubricants to help support optimal pelvic floor health

  • Parabens: parabéns can disrupt estrogen and also may lead to increased risk of cancer. It is ideal to avoid parabens in condoms because they can affect the bacteria in the vagina and lead to increased UTIs

  • Glycerin: glycerin can convert into sugar and cause increased yeast…something we don’t want in the vagina as it can lead to yeast infections

  • Alcohol / Acetate: acetate has a drying affect and can dry out the vaginal tissue causing more irritation, dryness and itching afterwards

  • Nonoxynol-9: while most products have already removed these, it is important to avoid N-9 as it has been shown to attack all bacteria, good and bad. That can leave you susceptible to both STDs and UTIs

  • Casein: this one isn’t inherently bad but if you have a diary allergy it may cause issues with inflammation or unpleasant reactions

  • Oil-Based lubricants: synthetic oil-based lubricants can alter the pH of the vaginal flora and may lead to increased risk of UTIs or yeast infections

Lubricantions when Trying to Conceive (TTC)

Sesame oil and synthetic oils (Astroglide, Aquagel and KY products) have been shown to decrease sperm motility. If you are TTC, then these oils are best to avoid as lubricants. Coconut oil can be useful as a lubricant without causing a disruption in the vaginal flora pH and increasing the risk of yeast infections.

Water-based lubricants were shown to immobilize all of the spermatozoa within 5 minutes of exposure and killed over 95% within 1 hour. If you are TTC, then water-based lubricants are not your best option as they may decrease sperm motility and vitality.

Best lubrications for TTC: coconut oil or Pre-Seed

Condom and Lubricant Considerations for Contraception

Oil-based lubricants can decrease the effectiveness of condoms. You heard me right, oil-based lubricants (yes, even coconut oil) can degrade the latex making condoms more susceptible to breakdown..and surprise babies. If you are using condoms as a form of contraception this is important because you probably want to avoid all oil-based lubricants.

References:

  1. DOI: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2013.12.024

  2. PMID: 29624933

  3. PMID: 24390681

C-section Scar Pain Recovery

“I had an emergency cesarean three weeks ago and the scar still hurts.”

“I had a cesarean 16 months ago and it hurts to be touched.”

“I had a c-section 3 years ago and it still hurts when I exercise.”

“I had a c-section 13 months ago and it is constantly itching.”

Each year 1.27 million mamas will have a c-section in the US and up to 228,000 mamas will develop chronic pain afterwards. I wish the stats were different, but I want you to know that you are not alone in worrying about c-section scar pain. When you have a c-section, your doctor cuts through sever layers to reach your sweet baby and bring them into this world. Your doctor had to cut through skin, fat, fascia and the rectus abdominis muscles, the peritoneum which helps support the organs as well as the uterus and amniotic sac. SEVEN LAYERS. That is no laughing matter, in fact it is major abdominal surgery. If you had an ACL surgery you would give yourself time to heal and recover and you would also expect therapy to strengthen the area as well. Fascia, which is the third layer, regains 51-59% of its strength at 42 days postpartum (~6 weeks) and 73-93% at 4.5 months postpartum. If you are newly postpartum (less than 6 weeks), please know it is not only OK but beneficial to slow down and allow your body the time and space to heal. 

A few key things to remember are that if you are newly postpartum or the pain increases in severity, it is important to see your provider for further evaluation. If you are concerned that the scar you can visibly see looks gnarly, please remember that the outward appearance of your scar does not represent how the inner layers look, feel or move!

Steps to relieving cesarean scar pain:

  1. Breathe
    Whether you are newly postpartum or your youngest baby is in college, start your healing by working on the breath. This may sound easy, but holy moly can it be hard after having a baby. During pregnancy our bellies grow and our ability to breath in 360º becomes increasingly more difficult each month. After birth our bodies naturally hold onto this newfound breathing pattern, even if it isn’t ideal. Add the c-section scar into the mix and it is even harder to breathe optimally because it’s almost like there is a speed bump in the way when we inhale and it requires more work for the breath to gently descend into the pelvic floor. The key is to keep practicing and get some 1:1 work to ensure you are breathing in a way that makes the abs, back and pelvic floor all work together!

  2. Mobilize
    A recent study showed that 4 sessions of manual therapy can decrease chronic pain associated with c-section scars. If you are at home, you can gently massage the scar yourself. In an ideal world we want to work on all layers of the scar, including the fascia which is the connective tissue between muscles and the skin. As the fascial layer and muscle layer are deep, it is helpful to see someone trained in scar tissue release and mobilization to ensure the entire body is moving properly.

  3. Align
    It’s not uncommon to have the “mom stance” after having a baby. You know the one, where you jut out your left hip so you can support your baby hippo on your hip it rather than using your arms. Or the one where you lean so far back you pretend you are a crib to prevent the sleeping kiddo from waking up from their nap. Either way, moms often find themselves in awkward positions and it’s for that reason that it’s also important to look at alignment. There’s no need to be afraid of any position, but it is important to try and keep a neutral spine (diaphragm and pelvic floor aligned, hips centered, weight over the whole foot and not just the heel) to help keep the pressures of motherhood over the center.

  4. Nourish
    Nourishing our body through food following a cesarean is similar to how we prepare for birth - nutrient dense foods, fiber, and making sure we are well hydrated. We want to make sure we are getting enough macronutrients such as carbs, proteins and fats as well as micronutrients. It’s also important to have regular bowel movements - that means so straining or pushing and going daily.

    When it comes to healing, proteins are important because they are the building blocks of the entire body including repairing tissue! I love grass-fed meat, eggs, bone broth, beans and lentils, wild-caught fish as well as nuts and seeds as sources for postpartum protein.

    When it comes to tissue repair, collagen and vitamin C are both important in helping the body optimally heal. For collagen you can consume hydrolyzed collagen or you can eat fibers high in threonine (most foods listed above plus carrots, bananas, dairy products and spirulina) as well as green leafy vegetables (spinach, kale, arugula), strawberries, citrus, pumpkin seeds and garlic. When it comes to vitamin C it isn’t just organist—try to eat kiwi, bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, kale, pineapple, cauliflower, peas or even tomatoes to boost your Vitamin C levels without supplementing.

    Fiber and water should go hand-in-hand to help with bowel movements and regular poops are a great way to decrease pressure on the scar! When it comes to fiber, getting it through foods is a great. A few high-fiber foods include berries, pears, avocados, figs, peas, Brussels sprouts, beans (black, lentil, kidney, chick, lima, split) and seeds (flax and chia). I don’t love over-the-counter fiber supplements because consuming fiber supplements and not enough water can basically make you have concrete poops…and nobody enjoys that.

    If you want individualized help with nutrition postpartum, I love Mama & Sweet Pea Nutrition and Lactation. The owner, Meghan, is a a Registered Dietitian and Certified Lactation Counselor who understands the nutritional needs of pregnant and postpartum mamas.

  5. Strengthen
    Remember that ACL? Yeah, I’ve never met a surgeon who doesn’t recommend therapy following major surgery…except when it comes to women’s health. Your provider literally cut through your muscle, so now that your scar is moving better thanks to eating well, regular bowel movements, and manual therapy, it is time to strengthen. A few of my favorite core strengthening exercises are the BIRTHFIT Functional Progressions. I also love mixing them up and adding more or less resistance based on your personal needs!

Cesarean scar pain can be worrisome, but it isn’t something you have to deal with for the rest of your life! If you are tired of your scar keeping you from exercising or playing with your kids or you are done worrying whether or not this pain will last forever, schedule a visit with Dr. Lauren today. 




References:

  1. Guttormson R, Tschirhart J, Boysen D, Martinson K., 2008

  2. DOI: 10.1097/JWH.0000000000000103

The information by Dr. Lauren Keller of Elemental Chiropractic, Inc. is provided for general information only and should in no way be considered as a substitute for medical advice or information about any particular condition. While every effort has been made to ensure that the information is accurate, Dr. Lauren Keller nor Elemental Chiropractic, Inc. make no warranties or representations as to its accuracy and accept no responsibility and cannot guarantee the consequences if individuals choose to rely upon these contents as their sole source of information about a condition and its rehabilitation. If you have any specific questions about any medical matter or think you may be suffering from any medical conditions, you should consult your doctor or other professional healthcare provider. You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice, or discontinue medical treatment because of information on this website.

Exercising With Your Cycle

Creating Balance by Working With Your Cycle

Have you ever noticed a natural fluctuation of energy with your menstrual cycle? Maybe you even considered programming your exercise routine with your cycle but didn’t know where to start? If so, this blog is for you as it will help outline a normal menstrual cycle and how you can optimally train with the natural changes your body is going through. The menstrual cycle itself starts on the first day of menstruation (bleeding) and last 24-32 days until the first day of your next cycle. 

This is where Eastern Medicine meets Western Medicine to bring you the best of both worlds to help you exercise with your cycle instead of against. One of my favorite parts about Traditional Chinese Medicine is their view on “balance”. It isn’t this 50/50 relationship we often think about when we hear the word balance, instead it this intertwined relationship that is always moving and always evolving but is balanced in the long-term. It is yin yang. It is both lightness and darkness, activity and rest, water and fire. These things work together to create the natural flow of life. Yin is a state of rest, darkness, cold and thinking inward while yang is a state of movement, light, heat and outward function. We don’t need or want 50% rest and 50% activity at all times, but in the long run we thrive when this is balanced. Training with your cycle is about respecting the ebbs and flows of your hormones.

Phase 1: Menstruation (Days 1-5ish)

Menstruation is when we are bleeding as the uterine lining is shedding. It is what most people think of when they hear the word cycle. Menstruation is considered the most yin state, it is the time for cleansing. Quite a few women feel their mood dwindle (looking at you, PMS), energy decrease and a change in appetite when bleeding. Now is the time we are in a yin state and this is a great cue to SLOW DOWN. After exercising, add more recovery time or include mindful movements like stretching, meditation, yoga, pilates and even going for walks. Self-care is important during the menstrual phase of the cycle so make sure you are getting enough quality sleep as during menses is the time to rest and renew.

Menstruation is the time to rest, release, renew & restore.

Phase 2: Follicular Phase (Days 6-13ish)

As menstruation ends and we build up towards ovulation, many women notice they are more energized. Now is the time to create new beginnings in the sense of awareness and concentration. If you have been wanting to increase the tempo or learn new skills, this is the time. Many women note increased muscle strength, stability and endurance during this phase.  Gradually increase the intensity of your activities by increasing vigorous exercise, adding in weight lifting, power activities or focusing on agility and skill work. 

The follicular phase is the time to ramp up and increase tempo.

Phase 3: Ovulation (day 14ish but can happen within a 3-5 day window)

Ovulation is one of the most important phases on the cycle, in fact you NEED to ovulate in order to get pregnant. This is the time you may see or feel increased cervical fluid (the sticky egg-white fluid in your underwear or on the toilet paper after you wipe) and you may feel warm due to increase in basal body temperature. These are all signs that you have increased progesterone which is great because it can lead to improved sleep, mood, and focus. Do you feel a surge of energy or concentration during ovulation? Many women notice increased energy and a desire to connect. Ovulation is a great time to increase your exercise and maybe even aim to hit a new PR. This is the time to hone in on skills and strength and really connect with your goals, both long-term and short-term.

Ovulation is the the time to build strength.

Phase 4: Luteal Phase (days 15-28ish)

If you are pregnant, now is the time the egg will be implanting and progesterone will be increasing to support the pregnancy. Whether you are trying to conceive or not, this is a great time of increased awareness so bring comfort to the body, mind and soul. As we wind down from the PRs and vigorous exercise of the follicular and ovulatory phases, increase restorative exercise, focus on form, technique and skills. Slow down on vigorous exercise and increase stretching and mobility.

The luteal phase is the time to hone in on skills and start slowing down.

If you are looking for support on how to exercise with your cycle, reach out and let us know how we can help!

Rib Pain and Pregnancy

Rib Pain and Pregnancy

The third trimester of pregnancy—you’re fast approaching meeting your little one who may currently be treating your ribs as their own personal trampoline. That feeling of not being able to fully breathe or that you are getting drop-kicked in the ribs is pretty common. While it’s common, it doesn’t mean you are stuck with it for the next 12 weeks.