This article is written in partnership with Yarlap®—they’re dedicated to helping us enjoy the benefits of better pelvic floor health and we’re honored to work with them. ~ ed.
A woman’s relationship with her body, psyche, and sexuality might best be described as: mercurial.
As a woman who tends to navigate life through the rhythms and pulses of my womb, hormones, and body, I gotta confess to having felt more than a little disconnected lately.
What does that mean for me?
Well, like a lot of us, when I am in what might be called a depressive state, I tend to be more sedentary, to feel more stagnant, emotionally, and to have less sex drive. These are normal ups and downs for us humans.
Fluctuations in hormones, relationship status, stress, jobs, kids, life, etc can impact our relationship with our bodies. But regardless of what is going on, we still need to take time to connect to ourselves—inner and outer.
I’ve been utilizing a specific tool called Yarlap for a morning, shall we say meditation, to facilitate the process of getting a good grip of my most intimate womanly self. It’s intimate and quite pleasurable, but we’ll come back to that later.
From Teen Mom to 20-Something Tinkler.
I don’t remember feeling grateful for my youth, beauty, or strength when I was at (what most people would consider), my peak physical development. But who does, really? I was too insecure. I am more at ease in my skin now in my 40s than I ever was in my 20s. It shows up in how I carry myself, and in what I wear. As well as how I move and make love.
As a tween, I leaned more toward baggy jeans and t-shirts. I slumped because I’ve always felt too tall, too frizzy, too booby, too much. It’s only now, starting in my late 30s that I started wearing the clothes I secretly always wanted to: short shorts, slinky dresses, and midriff-baring tops.
It’s also only in the last couple of years I’ve been having the kind of sex I’ve always yearned for—slow, steamy, limbs locked and lingering.
But, keep in mind that I was pregnant at the tender age of 17, so my physical, emotional, and sexual development was deeply impacted by that.
I can, if I search my somatic memory banks, recall the pressure from my swelling womb on my too-small bladder. I can also remember the first time I drizzled a bit (of urine!) as I was jumping on the giant trampoline that we used to do everything on: bounce, sleep, make out, wrestle. At the time I was, oh, about four months pregnant.
I guess you could say I got stuck with the panty-piddling rather early in life due to my “delicate condition” in late adolescence. In truth, I was in my prime and aside from an occasional panty piddle (and a brief hospital stay), I thrived in pregnancy.
Pregnancy changes the terrain of a woman’s body—permanently.
I recall when my daughter was about twoish, and my then-husband proposed to me that we have another child. Aside from the fact that we were emotionally and financially ill-equipped to have another baby, I could also still feel how my internal muscles had not returned to normal since the first one.
Though, to this day (at nearly 42), I do have a little womb pooch from carrying my papoose, what I was talking about to my ex was my pelvic floor—that area of muscles, ligaments, and sheet-like tissues that stretch from your pubic bone at the front of your body to the base of your spine (1). I could feel that it was, two years after giving birth, not quite right.
The pelvic floor itself, actually, is a bit like a trampoline: it can stretch in response to weight and bounce up again, and it plays the starring role in helping you know when you need to go to the bathroom. So, if you’ve ever had a little urine escape when you cough, laugh, sneeze or exercise? Your pelvic floor may not be as strong as you think (1).
Ha! Funny, I first noticed my own inner trampoline (slightly) degraded integrity as I was bouncing on one. And just like a regular trampoline, our pelvic floor may become overstretched and lose elasticity over time, and have a hard time bouncing back to its proper function. Mine never fully returned to its pre-pregnancy state, and now, 24 years later, trampolines are still not this lady’s panties’ best friend.
No More Piddle Problems in this Granny’s Panties.
Urinary incontinence is truly a drag. And according to some statistics, it affects 1 out of 4 women. And out of the 25 million adult Americans who suffer from urinary incontinence, 70% – 80% of them are women (2).
No wonder I’ve been seeing so many ads for more, how shall we say, stylish Depends type underwear. (Those are piddle panties, by the way.) And they are being marketed to a younger generation. They are less, how shall we say (delicately) like adult diapers than earlier products. It’s like the advertising industry has finally noticed: this is not just your gramma’s issue. (Although, I will confess, to in fact, being a gramma, myself.)
So what do we doooo?
We can only get to know the signals that our body is giving us to the degree that we are willing to slow down, feel her, and listen. Emphasis on feel her.
To do this in regard to incontinence and pelvic floor function, OBGYNs and the sex-positive folks have long been saying to do Kegels.
If you haven’t tried ‘em yet, the sensation is much like controlling the stream of urine or grasping a phallus inside of us. Give it a go by sitting on the toilet and stopping yourself midstream as you are peeing, or if you want to get a little more personal, insert a clean finger into your vagina and give it a gentle squeeze.
How? Traditional instructions are as follows:
1. Make sure your bladder is empty, then sit or lie down.
2. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles. Hold tight and count 3 to 5 seconds.
3. Relax the muscles and count 3 to 5 seconds.
4. Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day (morning, afternoon, and night).
Feeling squeamish about the idea of touching yourself and “playing” with your vagina muscles? That’s understandable. But it’s important to develop an intimate connection with our bodies. Increased self-awareness (with our bodies) can let us know if something is off sooner rather than later, which is important. But let’s be honest, the real motivator is pleasure!
And honestly? There’s a better, slower, and more connected way to go about doing our doctor-recommended Kegels:
An Effortless, Waking Kegel Meditation for your Mornings.
As I mentioned above, I tend to navigate the world through my senses, through my womb, and my belly even more than my heart. Some significant losses in my life—the abrupt termination of a pregnancy, and the loss of my best buddy, my pug named Grom—had led me to a hard disconnect from that intelligence. I needed to get to know myself again—slowly.
So, if getting to know Ms. V on this level is intimidating, foreign, uncomfortable, or even possibly traumatic, go slowly. If you tend to rush through sex or even masturbation—go slowly.
Once things finally settled down I committed to a new routine: use the Yarlap once every morning as part of a waking meditation. Yarlap is an auto kegel machine no bigger than a modest bullet vibrator. It plugs into a small battery-powered handset and has two metal contact plates that conduct gentle waves of electricity through the device up through the cervical canal.
It’s pleasant. A rather sexy, non-sex toy.
Each morning, I lie on my back propped up by a massive nest of pillows, smear a little lube (which is also provided) onto the device, insert it, set just inside my vagina’s opening, adjust the pulse rate to what is appropriate for me and my type of incontinence (it has a wide range), and relax.
I breathe naturally and easily as the program runs through its five seconds of contractions followed by five seconds of rest as I enjoy a reclined lotus position with the souls of my feet touching.
I imagine that the energy that is entering my vagina through the device is making a complete circuit with my entire body, flowing into and becoming part of my own energetic system.
My Yarlap has become part of my morning routine, prior to even making coffee, which anyone who knows me knows is just unheard of!
So why do my auto Kegels before I even get my morning coffee? I like to connect with my body in that early, still dreamy state. It’s sensitive, receptive, and has not yet been invaded by the demands of the day.
At present, my daughter’s family is staying with me, so tending to my mental, emotional and physical health at this time of day helps me set a tone of self-care before the little blond, bubbly human comes at me with “Uma, Uma, Uma!” (That’s my grandma name.)
And as a woman in our current political climate, we need ways to connect to ourselves, to decolonize our wombs, our periods, to claim our relationships with our bodies—no matter what the collective body is throwing at us or trying to take away.
My morning ritual is mine.
So what have I noticed so far?
It is summer and I go sans panties as often as possible. Sundress? No panties. Long skirt? No panties. One of those silly little rompers that you basically have to get naked in order to pee? Also, no panties!
I’ve done lots of walking, bouncing, and giggling around these summer days and nights. But I’ve done no piddling.