Heba Shaheed, also known as The Pelvic Expert, is a women's health nutritionist and physiotherapist who specialises in pregnancy, birth, motherhood, pelvic pain and endometriosis. Here she shares seven things all women should know about their bodies.
1 Prolapse doesn't just affect the elderly. It usually happens at a mum's first birth but she isn't aware of it. Pelvic floor physiotherapy helps and saves women ever needing surgery. With all the media about the harmful effects of mesh surgery for prolapse, women need to be aware of low risk, low cost alternatives, and they need to know as soon as they give birth, not 10 or 20 years too late.
2 Endometriosis affects as many people as diabetes, but we are so behind on the treatment of endometriosis because period pain is taboo. Women are suffering from debilitating pain that affects them physically, emotionally and socially. I personally know what it's like to have this pain strip you of living a good healthy life. Endometriosis needs a holistic approach of surgery, nutrition, exercise, physiotherapy and self-care.
3 Vaginismus and painful sex occurs in about 20% of women, and the issue is tight pelvic floor muscles. Psychology and sex therapy can help to an extent, but the real cure is physiotherapy. Women who find sex painful need to have their pelvic floor muscles released, stretched and relaxed. Kegels make painful sex worse.
4 Back pain and pelvic pain in pregnancy is common affecting more than 50% of women, but it is not normal, and it can be cured with exercise and physiotherapy.
5 Losing the mummy tummy is about more than just weight loss. It's about healing abdominal separation or diastasis rectus abdominis with pelvic floor and core exercises, nourishing with collagen-rich foods, and managing your sleep and stress levels for optimal hormonal health.
6 Leaking in pregnancy or after birth is common not normal. And it can be fixed with physiotherapy and exercise in 84% of women. You don't have to live with it, and you don't need always need surgery.
7 In a poll I conducted with over 800 women, over 80% of them wanted to know about their individual risks of pelvic floor problems after birth, while only 2% didn't want to know. But we don't give women the full picture of the risks of childbirth, because we think it's going to make them afraid. Women have the right to autonomy, so that they are prepared for life after birth.