Over 80 women attended Brantford’s second annual Kegels and Cocktails event at the Rope Factory event space on Thursday, November 2, 2023.
Guests had the opportunity to mingle, grab a snack and a drink, as well as peek inside their swag bags before the event got underway.
Speakers Sherri-lyn Moore, a pelvic health physiotherapist, Stephanie Huntjens White, a registered holistic nutrition coach and wellness stylist, and Krystal Schouten, a pelvic floor fitness and movement specialist, then took turns stepping up to the podium to discuss the importance of pelvic health and how to protect, improve and maintain it for life.
While Dr. Arnold Kegel first researched and developed kegel exercises in 1948, throughout the decades, the topic surrounding vaginal health had long been considered taboo, that is until the 1990’s when kegels gained more popularity.
The speakers demonstrated this by first taking guests through the ages with a skit based around “what your mama never told you (because she didn’t know),”
The skit showcased a mother and daughter speaking in the 1950’s where the child was completely brushed off when she asked about vaginal health, the 1980’s where the child was simply handed a book, the 1990’s where the mother was practicing kegels, and present day where the mother encourages her daughter with up-to-date resources.
Moore then used a puppet to break down the different parts of the vagina, as well as to discuss how a vaginal prolapse (when the vagina slips out of position) and urinary incontinence are just a few signs of dysfunction within the pelvic floor.
Guests were then queued to look in their swag bag, and if one of the items were marked with an “x”, those guests stood up.
“Everybody standing up is a representation of the women in this room that could be suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction,” she said. “One in three women suffer with some form of pelvic floor dysfunction and if this whole room was over 55, that number would actually go up quite substantially.”
Next, Huntjens White stood up to speak about her experience with taking her pelvic health more seriously by addressing her energy, the cortisol stress hormone, postpartum symptoms and the like.
She also discussed how every woman is different, every symptom and how it connects to the body is different and the solutions available are unique to each person.
“When I mentioned symptoms (anxiety, low energy, trouble sleeping, mood swings, etc.), and how you can have all these different things that can pop up, a lot of times we get overwhelmed by how many we have and sometimes we get embarrassed about the things that show up,” said White. “But I want you to know that your symptoms are what makes you unique and your solution to the symptoms are your solution.”
She said that the first step is noticing what your personal symptoms are and turning that into your superpower.
“What would it mean if you were able to dig down into those symptoms and figure out ‘what does this symptom mean? what is it? what is it saying about my body?’ and being able to use that as your superpower can turn things around,” said White. “…If you look at all of the multiple symptoms that you have, and you can say, ‘you know what, I’m just going to pick one symptom at a time,’ then that creates confidence, it creates clarity and it really it helps you get curious.”
White encouraged guests to look at their day-to-day, pay attention to their symptoms and to take the next step by finding someone who could provide unique help.
After a short break of mingling, snacking and other refreshments, Moore then approached the podium to discuss pelvic floor physiotherapy.
Moore spoke about how the pelvic floor is a part of the “core four” (the breathing diaphragm, the transversus abdominus, the multifidus and the pelvic floor) and noted how it affects the other parts of a woman’s body.
“There’s actually a ton of pelvic floor muscles and they’re all interconnected. Just like any muscle in your body, you can get knots and you can have tension in the muscles in your pelvic floor,” said Moore. “It doesn’t matter where your muscles are, they can be dysfunctional in that way. Your core system is a pressure system, and it relies on maintaining pressure. It can be over pressurized and it can be under pressurized, and that’s when dysfunction happens. But those are the reasons this whole system has to be just right, because it can affect all those different things.”
Moore walked guests through what is and is not “normal” within the body, the importance of breathing properly to support the core four, how ignoring your body’s bladder signals can lead to pelvic dysfunction, how to teach the next generation by normalizing the topic and advocating for your health.
“Be an agent for your own health and advocate for yourself,” she said. “Ask the questions because we’re all still learning, even health care professionals are still learning. If something doesn’t feel right for you, then ask those questions and seek out answers because you’re likely right in thinking that something’s not quite right.”
Schouten then wrapped up the night by discussing the ABC’s of pelvic health in relation to alignment (like sitting posture), breathing, and coordination. She also walked guests through exercises and release techniques for tension and how to calm the nervous system.
Her biggest point was that women need to normalize having conversations about their pelvic health and well-being in order to learn, and address dysfunction in the body.