07 Sep 2021

10 nutrition tips for a happy and healthy pelvic floor

Nutrition for pelvic floor health: How can your diet help you boost your pelvic floor health? Read our top 10 tips from nutritionist Jenny Carson to find out.

*Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links (marked with an *). This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.

Many of us will know that one of the best things that we can do for our pelvic floor is pelvic floor exercises; a lesser-known yet equally important aspect revolves around nutrition for pelvic floor health.

However, did you know that an extra way to support your pelvic floor lies in your diet and the food that you eat? 

This article will share 10 ways that foods can be included or avoided for pelvic health.

Understanding your pelvic floor

The pelvic floor is a hammock-like muscle that supports the base of the body.  It plays an important role in bladder control and the stabilisation of the pelvic organs.  If you have a weak pelvic floor, you might suffer from urinary incontinence, which can be triggered by sneezing, coughing, or laughing, the urgency to urinate, besides frequent urinary tract infections (UTI) or vaginal prolapse. 

Oestrogen plays a regulatory role in the production of collagen, which helps with muscle and tissue strength. As oestrogen decreases during the perimenopause (to near zero once menopause occurs), the tissues surrounding the bladder, pelvic floor and vagina lose elasticity which can mean the area becomes more irritated. 

RELATED ARTICLE: Learn more about how the menopause affects your body

A weakened pelvic floor can also be caused by periods in our life such as illness, medications, chronic constipation, and childbirth. 

RELATED ARTICLE: Is it too late to fix my pelvic floor?

How to take control of your pelvic floor health through diet and lifestyle

The main aims of a pelvic health diet are to help you to maintain muscle, reduce inflammation and ward off oxidative damage (which is caused by exposure to pollution, endurance exercise and heavy metals). 

You also want to ensure that the surrounding organs, such as the kidneys, liver, bowel, and bladder, function in a normal manner.

Here are 10 tips to improve your nutrition for pelvic floor health:

nutrition pelvic floor

1. Increase your fibre intake

Pelvic health is highly impacted by constipation; therefore, a good intake of fibre-rich foods is essential. 

When constipated, the combined urge to push and the pressure of the full bowel on the bladder puts stress on the pelvic floor. 

If your bowels are stagnant, they may also emit toxins that are reabsorbed through the intestinal tissues, making the situation worse still.

Generally, dietary guidance is to consume 30 grams of fibre daily. This means 7-11 servings daily of vegetables and fruit in a variety of colours, plus peas, beans, lentils and whole grains.

Research has shown that those with pelvic floor disorders and constipation who increased their fibre intake to at least 28g daily saw an improvement in constipation and a reduction in pelvic floor treatments.

2. Go for good-quality protein

Good quality protein at each meal is essential. 

Collagen relies on proline and lysine - amino acids that make up protein.  Good options include bone broth, wild oily fish, grass-fed meats and eggs, plus legumes, nuts and seeds. 

Additionally, your body requires vitamin C, plus plant pigments, to support normal collagen production and to protect what it currently has.

3. Decrease irritants such as caffeine, fizzy drinks, alcohol and sugar

The pelvic region can become irritated in response to certain foods and drinks. Caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol are potent diuretics and bladder irritants.

In addition, sugary foods and sugar alternatives can alter the vaginal and bladder pH to greater acidity, which makes the tissues prone to UTIs. 

Try swapping biscuits, sweets, and cake for flavonoid-rich dark chocolate, seeds, or berries. For drinks, water and herbal or fruit teas are best; in fact, electrolytes added to water will help to maintain mineral balance. 

RELATED ARTICLE: How to kick the sugar habit

4. Check your vitamin D levels

Interestingly, bladder tissue contains vitamin D receptor sites, and therefore, it is considered that adequate vitamin D is essential to support pelvic health. 

Public Health England recommends that the UK population require a minimum of 400iu of supplemental vitamin D3 daily during the winter months; however, this may be extended for those who suffer from frequent infections, have black or Asian skin tone, or do not expose their skin to the sun. 

Vitamin D can be found in UV-exposed mushrooms, salmon, and eggs, but often, if a large amount is necessary, supplementation may be an option.

RELATED ARTICLE: Your full guide to Vitamin D - the sunshine vitamin

5. Angelica Archangelica and pumpkin seed

Frequent trips to the toilet are characteristic of bladder weakness; the muscles that envelope the bladder become weakened, and the amount of fluid the bladder can hold decreases. 

Angelica archangelica is a Scandinavian herb renowned for bladder strength, and research showed a reduced number of toilet trips and an increase in the volume of urine that the bladder can hold after 12 weeks of supplementation.

This can be complemented by pumpkin seed, which is rich in plant-specific nutrients that allow the bladder to relax and expand, thus reducing the frequency of urination.

6. Go for alkalising and antibacterial foods and nutrients

That being said, a large proportion of urinary tract infections respond to cranberry, potassium citrate and vitamin C, which each have an alkalising and antibacterial effect on the tissues. 

They help to reduce the chance of bacterial adhesion to the tissues, and thus an infection cannot be exerted.

7. Maca for libido and hyaluronic acid or MSM for vaginal dryness

Pelvic floor disorders can make sex uncomfortable and induce anxiety. 

If you’re able to improve pelvic floor disorder using the tips in this article, then the consumption of Maca, a Peruvian adaptogenic vegetable, has been reported to stimulate libido.  

While Hyaluronic acid or MSM (methyl sulphonyl methane) can be useful in addressing vaginal dryness. 

RELATED ARTICLE: Vaginal dryness and uncomfortable sex - Dr Nighat Arif explains

8. Add fermented foods to your diet

The pelvic region is home to a unique spectrum of bacteria known as the vaginal biome.  A disruption to the biome is associated with exacerbated pelvic floor disorder symptoms. 

Fermented foods offer a great way to support bacterial diversity, for instance, fermented yoghurts and foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi, tempeh and natto.

nutrition pelvic floor

9. Check if a reduction in weight may help

Research has established a relationship between obesity and urinary incontinence. That's why a weight reduction of 5-10% in obese women who suffered from urinary incontinence saw a reduction in involuntary urination combined with a significant improvement in quality of life.

nutrition pelvic floor

10. Don't forget your exercises!

Finally, as with any muscle, once the right nutrients are provided, the muscle needs to be worked.  This can be practising ‘Kegel’ squeezes, but also includes walking, running, yoga and Pilates, to name a few.  A sedentary lifestyle is a contributing factor to pelvic floor disorders.

RELATED ARTICLE: How do you actually do pelvic floor exercises?

Want some extra help?

We recommend these pelvic floor trainers to help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

(*Disclosure: These links are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, we will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalise a purchase.)

Elvie - App Controlled Women's Pelvic Floor Trainer

Elvie - App Controlled Women's Pelvic Floor Trainer

  • Connect the Perifit probe to the app by Bluetooth, and watch your pelvic floor contractions in real time. Bid goodbye boring and complicated exercises, and get quick results thanks to the app's fun exercises.
  • Perifit's 5D analysis diagram (strenght, endurance, contraction quality, relaxation, agility) allows you to focus on your own areas to improve. The app proposed 6 training programs to address your very own issues and symptoms.
  • Designed in partnership with physiotherapists and pelvic floor specialists. Now, many health professionals worldwide recommend Perifit to their patients for pelvic reinforcement.
  • As a multi-award-winning Kegel trainer, Elvie Trainer is recommended by hundreds of healthcare professionals, from physiotherapists and gynecologists to personal trainers. We’re also proud to work in partnership with the NHS.
  • Perifit - Pelvic Floor Exerciser with App

    Perifit - Pelvic Floor Exerciser with App

  • Connect the Perifit probe to the app by Bluetooth, and watch your pelvic floor contractions in real time. Bid goodbye boring and complicated exercises, and get quick results thanks to the app's fun exercises.
  • Perifit's 5D analysis diagram (strenght, endurance, contraction quality, relaxation, agility) allows you to focus on your own areas to improve. The app proposed 6 training programs to address your very own issues and symptoms.
  • Designed in partnership with physiotherapists and pelvic floor specialists. Now, many health professionals worldwide recommend Perifit to their patients for pelvic reinforcement.
  • Bodyotics Deluxe Kegel Weighted Exercise Trainers – Set of 6 for Beginners to Advanced with E-Book

    Bodyotics Deluxe Kegel Weighted Exercise Trainers – Set of 6 for Beginners to Advanced with E-Book

  • Connect the Perifit probe to the app by Bluetooth, and watch your pelvic floor contractions in real time. Bid goodbye boring and complicated exercises, and get quick results thanks to the app's fun exercises.
  • Perifit's 5D analysis diagram (strenght, endurance, contraction quality, relaxation, agility) allows you to focus on your own areas to improve. The app proposed 6 training programs to address your very own issues and symptoms.
  • Conclusion

    Overall, a whole-food diet is the basis for a pelvic floor diet. This is a diet that incorporates foods in their natural state 80% of the time, which leaves you 20% of calories for whatever you fancy. 

    You can then get the next level of support through specific nutrients which are known to support specific requirements: for example, maca for libido, angelica archangelica for bladder health or hyaluronic acid for vaginal dryness.

    For advice on personalised food supplement choices, consider your local independent health store, which will be able to offer recommendations based on your health goals.  Find your local store at www.findahealthstore.com

    About the author

    Jenny Carson, MRes, BSc (Hons), is a Senior Nutritionist at the ethical vitamin company Viridian Nutrition. She has over 5 years’ of experience supporting people with nutritional health advice. She recently completed a Master of Research(MRes) in Public Health, giving her a wide understanding of public health nutrition. Her other focus areas include ageing, dealing with stress, peri and post-menopause, detox and mood. For more information, visit www.viridian-nutrition.com

    This article is for information purposes and does not refer to any individual products. The information contained in this article is not intended to treat, diagnose or replace the advice of a health practitioner. Please consult a qualified health practitioner if you have a pre-existing health condition or are currently taking medication. Food supplements should not be used as a substitute for a varied and balanced diet.

    This article is a paid partnership with Viridian Nutrition.

    References

    • Auwad W, Steggles P, Bombieri L, Waterfield M, Wilkin T, Freeman R. Moderate weight loss in obese women with urinary incontinence: a prospective longitudinal study. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2008 Sep;19(9):1251-9. doi: 10.1007/s00192-008-0616-9. Epub 2008 Apr 18. PMID: 18421406.
    • Hallock JL, Handa VL. The Epidemiology of Pelvic Floor Disorders and Childbirth: An Update. Obstet Gynecol Clin North Am. 2016 Mar;43(1):1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.ogc.2015.10.008. PMID: 26880504; PMCID: PMC4757815.
    • Richter HE, Creasman JM, Myers DL, Wheeler TL, Burgio KL, Subak LL; Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise (PRIDE) Research Group. Urodynamic characterization of obese women with urinary incontinence undergoing a weight loss program: the Program to Reduce Incontinence by Diet and Exercise (PRIDE) trial. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2008 Dec;19(12):1653-8. doi: 10.1007/s00192-008-0694-8. Epub 2008 Aug 5. PMID: 18679560; PMCID: PMC2613830.
    • Shariati A, Maceda JS, Hale DS. High-fiber diet for treatment of constipation in women with pelvic floor disorders. Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Apr;111(4):908-13. doi: 10.1097/01.AOG.0000308660.48204.7f. PMID: 18378750.
    • Sharma & Aggarwal, Vitamin D and Pelvic Floor Disorders, J Midlife Health. 2017 Jul-Sep; 8(3): 101–102.

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