Are you ashamed to talk about your pelvic floor? You're not alone. Millions of women suffer from incontinence and other pelvic floor disorders, but they're often too embarrassed to seek help.
In this episode of The Hormone Prescription Podcast, we're joined by Jana Danielson, a pelvic floor specialist who's here to dish the secrets to pelvic floor success. From how to keep things tight down there to how to manage incontinence, Jana's got the lowdown on everything you need to know about keeping your pelvic floor healthy and happy.
Jana Danielson helps women have better pelvic floor function by using the Cooch Ball, the world’s first patented pelvic floor fitness tool for women. She is an Amazon Best Selling Author, the Founder of Lead Pilates and Lead Integrated Health Therapies, and the Metta District, an online wellness community. Jana has coached and consulted with tens of thousands of women from all over the world to help improve their quality of life, their confidence, and their impact in this world.
In this episode, you'll learn:
The symptoms of a weak pelvic floor and how to know if you have one
How the pelvic floor is connected to the whole body and why it's important to keep it strong
The secrets to pelvic floor success
How to keep things tight down there
How to manage incontinence
The importance of pelvic floor health
So, whether you're suffering in silence or just want to learn more about how to take care of your lady parts, this is the episode for you! Tune in now and get started on your journey to pelvic floor success.
(00:00): Joseph Pilates said, breath is the first and last act of life. And somewhere in the middle, we forget how to do it. What does this have to do with the secrets to pelvic floor success, stay tuned and you'll find out.
(00:15): So the big question is how do women over 40, like us keep weight off, have great energy balance. Our hormones in our moods feel sexy and confident and master midlife. If you're like most of us, you are not getting the answers you need and remain confused and pretty hopeless to ever feel like yourself. Again. As an OB GYN, I had to discover for myself the truth about what creates our rock solid metabolism, lasting weight loss, and supercharged energy. After 40 in order to lose a hundred pounds and fix my fatigue. Now I'm on a mission. This podcast is designed to share the natural tools you need for impactful results. And to give you clarity on the answers to your midlife metabolism challenges, join me for tangible natural strategies to crush the hormone imbalances you are facing and help you get unstuck from the sidelines of life. My name is Dr. Kyrin Dunston welcome to the hormone prescription podcast.
(01:09): Hi, everybody. Welcome back to the hormone prescription with Dr. Kyrin. Thanks so much for joining me today. We're talking about pelvic floor disorders and how to be successful in helping and healing them today with Jana Danielson, you're gonna love her. It really struck me how incredibly revolutionary what she has created is after I interviewed her and looked more into the product that she's developed and the educational platform that she's developed for women suffering with pelvic floor disorders, which is, mm, a lot of us as we age, frankly, and she's gonna go through, how do you identify if you have a pelvic floor disorder, it's not really common Parlin that we say, Hey, do you have a pelvic floor disorder? And so she's gonna talk about the symptoms that you would be having that could alert you, that you have some type of pelvic floor dysfunction going on.
(02:12): And more than that, she's got solutions, amazing solutions. And I really love how, when we lean into the problems that we're so hard, lean into those questions that we can come up with some revolutionary answers and solutions. And Jana did just that. So I'm gonna tell you a little bit about her and then we'll get started. So Jana Danielson helps women have better pelvic floor function by using the cooch ball. The world's first patented pelvic floor fitness tool for women. She's an Amazon bestselling author, the founder of lead Pilates and lead integrated health therapies and the meta district, an online wellness community, Jana has coached and consulted with tens of thousands of women from all over the world world to help improve their quality of life, their confidence, and their impact in this world. Welcome Jana.
(03:06): Thank you, Dr. Dunston. It's great to be here.
(03:09): I'm so excited to have you join me today. We haven't really talked about pelvic floor health on the podcast, how that's happened. I don't even know cuz it's a super important topic and you've created an amazing product for women to use before we talk about that. Can you talk a little bit about how you became so interested in and became an expert in pelvic floor health for women?
(03:33): Yeah, absolutely. So I am the mom of three boys. They're now 17, 19 and 21. So I, it's not like I'm a new mom, but in my career I had a career shift about 16 or 17 years ago from the world of corporate into wellness, entrepreneurship and Pilates actually for me became a vehicle that I used for my own healing. A lot of undiagnosed pain, a lot of protecting a lot of holding, a lot of tension in my body, which created a lot of dysfunction and a lot of disconnection from my body. And so through Pilates, I started to understand the way our body worked as systems. You know, we're not pieces. We think sometimes were arms and legs and organs and skin and hair. And, but we're much more than that. We're a skeletal system and lymphatic system and a reproductive system and a digestive system.
(04:26): And what I started learning through my training and my own healing was that these systems when compromised are not just standalone compromised systems, they're gonna impact other systems in the body. And when that happens, using the hyphenated word, DISE dis-ease is one of the outcomes that can be present in the body. And that's what was happening with me. I became a very, I was, I looked seemingly healthy on the outside, but on the inside I was slowly, I felt like I was slowly dying. I was losing my voice. I became a very, not so confident. Young woman didn't know if I'd ever be able to be a mom. Didn't know why I would marry my high school sweetheart, who just proposed to me because my body was not working for me. And when I found Pilates, it completely changed my life. And as part of that, I guess, experience 16 weeks into starting my Pilates journey. I was off all 11 medications that I had been prescribed to manage different symptoms that I had been experiencing for two years prior to that. And it really intrigued me.
(05:36): Could you talk a little bit about what was going on for you in detail? Like you said, your body just wasn't working for you, you're on all these medications. I know everybody's wondering like what in the world was happening.
(05:47): So for me it was manifesting or presenting itself as digestive pain. And this had started when I think back to it, like back in high school, I am the first born child. I am a pretty driven individual and I would get this pain. And I always in my mind just thought, well that's because I am vying for that high mark on that test. Or I wanna make that team or I want it right. And I just chalked it up to nerves. My little small town doctor also chalked it up to nerves and I just started taking tongues. Cause I just thought it was, you know, a little bit of acid in my gut. And it turned out to be much more than that. The pain, it was like a, a baseball size pain just back from my belly button. And it would overcome me. I would be doubled over.
(06:37): It was hard to breathe. I would find myself sitting at my desk at work, kind of pressing the angle of the desk into just above my belly button and I would breathe and that would kind of calm it down for me. It hurt when I moved, it hurt when I didn't move. It hurt when I was sexual with my then fiance, it hurt when I was going for groceries it, so I actually named my pain. I named my pain, the edge and it personified that part of me that I had zero control over and it helped me to, to cope. Right. And so the medications started to get added on as I went through a process of specialist specialist specialist, this test, that test to the point where I sat with members of my medical team. And they told me that they believed that the pain was in my head and that I was seeking attention and that there was nothing more that they could do for me.
(07:31): And so that's when Pilates, it was a dark time for me. I was in a very, not so great space in my mind. Back then, I wouldn't have said that I was depressed, but as I look back, yeah, I was. And what I decided one day when I saw Madonna on the cover of a fitness magazine in the grocery store and it had the word Pilates splashed across it, I decided that I would buy that magazine and read that article because I was a big Madonna fan. And what I read was words that talked about alignment of the spine and breathing with this muscle called the diaphragm and balance with the front of the body and the back of the body. And there was words like eccentric, like length and muscles. And I thought, oh, this is kind of like yoga. I should do this.
(08:18): You know, I had a yoga practice and I went to my first Pilates class and it actually was one of the most disturbing <laugh> lack of confidence, 50 minutes of my life. And if I wasn't such darn keener, and if I hadn't taken my new Pilates mat to the front row of that class, I would've rolled it up and I would've made a B line, but I, I went right to the front right by the instructor. And when she started speaking to me that day, she should have been speaking a foreign language because she was saying things like inhale through your nose to expand the space in your torso, exhale out of your mouth, make this H a ha sound. As you let the air exit and you let your ribs melt into, like, she was saying these things. And I was like, what is she actually saying?
(09:08): Cause my down body would not do any of it. And I didn't know, should I laugh or should I cry? And, and after the class I rolled up my mat and my instructor walked up to me and she, well, she said to me, just hang, hang out for a few minutes. So she said goodbye to everybody else. She walked up to me, and she wrapped her arms around me. And I melted, I burst into tears because for the first time in my life, I actually did not know what was wrong with me because I couldn't do the simple act of breathing. The first thing we do when we
(09:48): His body, right, is we take that first big gasp of air and we breathe. I couldn't even do that. And it was very humbling for me. And all my instructors said to me that day was come back on Thursday. That's all she said. And she opened up her arms and I walked out and my husband was waiting for me or my fiance at that point was waiting for me outside. And I walked out and it looked like I was chopping onions. My eyes were like red and puffy from crying. And he is like, what the hell just happened in that class? Like why, why, why are you on your knees crying? And I was like, I just have to come back on Thursday. That's all I kept saying, I have to come back on Thursday. And that was one of those defining moments for me in my life, where I was, where I realized maybe I was looking in the wrong place for my healing. Maybe I actually had the empowerment to see within me if I could heal here first. And that's what I did. And over the next 16 weeks, I went twice a week to that class and I practiced and I practiced and I practiced. And by Christmas of that year, I had weaned myself off of all 11 of my medications. And I was just ripe for wanting to know more about the body. And that's really how my journey started.
(11:08): Okay. Yeah. You know, we who do yoga, we think we know Pilates, and then you go to a Pilates class and you're like, I don't know Jack about this and the breathing I'm with you. You go. And it's like, have I ever breathed the breath in my life? You think where you go to Pilates? Like you're doing it all wrong. OK. So that started your journey. And then you eventually became a master teacher, and you've got companies that teach Pilates. Yeah. And so what led to the pelvic floor revelation?
(11:39): Yeah. So for me through my Pilates training and going to different conferences and meeting different people, I was always intrigued. So before Pilates, I used to teach other forms of fitness. And I never had heard before that the pelvic floor was a part of the core. I always thought your erectus abs and your O Bleaks and your transverse abs, that was your core. And as I started to learn that the core, the way I was taught is a cylindrical-shaped system. You have on the very outer layer at the front of your body, your six pack, right? Those reus, a dominance, and then deeper to that, you have the sling system of the internal and external or external O Bleaks that twist you and, you know, pick up your purse off the floor. Then you've got those deep transverse abs that start in your low back, wrapped to your front, like a corset to give you shape and posture security for your POS or for your organs.
(12:35): But then there's a top and a bottom to that cylinder. The diaphragm is the main muscle of respiration like that mushroom cap sits at the top of the cylinder of the core. And the pelvic floor finishes the structure as the floor of the core. And I was like, okay, wait a minute. So this is actually true when I'm doing my abdominal work through Pilates or before I used to teach boot camps. I never ever once cued my own body or cued my clients to activate their pelvic floor as they were doing a plank or doing, you know, curling up doing a roll up in Pilates. And I was like, how did I miss this? What did I do to miss this major fact? And so I just started digging more and more and more. And through my learning, I understood that the diaphragm and the pelvic floor work in a unit as a system like BFFs in the body.
(13:29): So when the diaphragm is not properly functioning and as women, we carry attention in two main spots, right? Head, neck, and shoulders and through the pelvis. So we have been given this primary breathing muscle in our body, the diaphragm that's huge and very underutilized. And then of course, we've been given the secondary breathing muscles that live in our neck, they're called the scale lanes and the sternal mastoid. And they're like little strips of like beef jerky. They're meant to help when needed. They're not meant to be like the lead actress in a movie, but for so many of us, because of our forward head carriage, the tension we carry, you know, we grip our jaw. We forget to breathe during the day we use those little beef jerky muscles as the primary breathers. And so at that point, ladies, we're like a little, a beautiful little goldfish using our gills to breathe on the side of our neck, adding more and more and more tension.
(14:31): Cuz those muscles already have a job. They ought to hold our head up. We forget that we have this beautiful big muscle to diaphragm that when, when not used, when not functional directly impacts our pelvic floor. And I was like, it was like this light bulb moment where I was like, oh my gosh, I need to start teaching this way. I need to start teaching beyond the keel cuz it is, I call it beyond the keel because when a keel, any movement taught improperly can be detrimental from a functional perspective. Right. So I just started like gobbling up more and more information and trying different things out. And the women I was teaching, it was like, again, like me in that first Pilates class, I was speaking a different language. They're like, we're supposed to be using our pelvic floor when we breathe. And I'm like, yes, on the exhale, it's like drawing, you know, drawing that pelvic floor up like slurping up a straw, like picking up a grape with your vagina.
(15:30): That's the exhale. Because when we take a big breath in our lungs filled with air, our diaphragm is at rest because the diaphragm from the pelvic floor buddies, when the diaphragm rest, the pelvic floor has to rest. When we exhale the lungs empty of air, the diaphragm gets to kind of come into its full glory and work. And that's when the pelvic floor works. Right? So that's why when we're lifting up our kids or picking up weights or bags of groceries, we wanna lift and stand on that exhale phase of breath. It's gonna protect our low back our organs and our pelvic cause our pelvic floor is in action. So that's what started to intrigue me. And then I did some work with Dr. Bruce Crawford. Who's a urogynecologist from Reno, Nevada, and his research showed that 90% of women with any sort of pelvic floor dysfunction, either coughing or sneezing and peeing a bit, or you know, hyper tone where there's just a lack of tone in the muscle or frequency where I don't have to go pee now.
(16:28): But like in a nanosecond, if I don't get to the bathroom, I'm gonna have an accident. All of those women, if there were 10 of them in a room, nine of those women could be taught how to use those muscles connect with those nerves and release that fascia in that area in a new way to create an environment for function. Only one of those women would have to get wheeled into a surgery room to get a pelvic floor mesh pinup surgery. And I was like, hold on here. So what you're saying is that movement can heal 90% of these cases. How empowering is that? And that's really what was the impetus for me to be like, I wanna do more about this. And I knew already for my Pilates training, that things like, you know, using a foam roller or a pinky release ball on your shoulders or a foam roller on your it band, the, you know, the piece of fashion between and the hip would provide healing release of the fascia, healthy blood flow oxygen, rich nutrient, rich environment for those cells to flourish. I was like, how would I create that in the pelvic floor? And that's what I did with the Cooch ball. And, and when I started to educate about it, it was challenging for me because no one talks about their pelvic floor. Everyone pretends they're good. Like
(17:43): Everyone pretends, they don't have one. No, they don't have a vagina because nobody talks about, they think, think vagina is a bad word, which it's not, but let's back up a little bit, cuz this is really good. So some people know what we're talking about when we said pelvic floor dysfunction, you mentioned briefly some of the symptoms. Yeah. But just so everybody listening can identify, is this me? Or is this not me? Okay. I mean, it probably applies to most women who have had children <laugh> because there's so much dysfunction that occurs when that big baby comes through and rips through everything. But can you kind of go through the symptoms that women would be identifying or noticing if they have pelvic floor dysfunction?
(18:29): Yeah. Okay. So think of it like a continuum, like a number line. Okay. So on one end of the spectrum, we have what is called hyper H Y P E R tonic. Okay. Hyper tone. Too much tone, too much tension too tight. Okay. So constipation is actually a very common symptom that a lot of women don't realize can be attributed to the pelvic floor pain during intercourse is another symptom of a pelvic floor that is too tight, right? Even just general pelvic floor pain can be an indicator of some dysfunction in that area. On the other side of the spectrum, there is high tone. H I P oone a lack of tone. All right, there can be, this is where yeah. You might cough or sneeze or a laugh and have a little bit of wedding, or maybe you're starting a learn to run program.
(19:32): Although I do have to say in hyper tone, sometimes that coughing or sneezing too can cause a little bit of an accident because you're holding, holding, holding all the time and you do that sneeze. Right. And there's a little bit of displacement of, of urine. And so those are some of the more common there is urge frequency as well. And urge is actually, it is a pathway, a neural pathway that starts to get developed when we don't wait for our bladder to actually completely fill before the brain sends the message. Like I better go to the bathroom. And so what happens over time and we've probably all done this before, even as moms like to our kids, okay, we're going on a little road trip, go to the bathroom. I don't need to go mom, just go try, but I don't have to go, just go try.
(20:18): Right. And we, we sit when they just don't need to, or you just don't need to then don't because what that starts to train is if you start to empty your bladder and it's only a third full, when it gets a third full, your brain's gonna be like, oh, it's a third fold and you're gonna go and you're gonna pee for like five seconds and be like, well, is that it right? And then less than an hour later, you're gonna be going again. So there's all of these little parts to pelvic floor, you know, health and wellness, wellness. Now women who have had yes, large babies, a hundred percent, there can be some pelvic floor dysfunction women going into menopause. I think we just anticipate as our hormones are changing, the tone of the pelvic floor is gonna change. And that's just become something we just expect as we age.
(21:05): And it doesn't necessarily always have to be that way. I have clients who have never had babies. I have had clients I have had actually moms buy my product for their 9, 10, 11 year old tween daughters who are still wetting the bed and don't wanna go to a sleepover because they, and in a lot of these cases, these young girls are like high level dancers or figure skaters or performers. And they are, they're teaching their body to hold right, to create a shape. And they're actually having pelvic floor dysfunction at those ages being shown as bedwetting. And we've had tremendous success there. Right? So one of the main messages through this education around what is a pelvic floor dysfunction symptom is it's not just for older ladies and women that have had babies. It's like, we think about, we want strong glutes so we can walk up and downstairs.
(22:08): We want strong arms so we can, you know, have a high level of functioning in our life activities of daily living. But yet, like you said earlier on tuck to Dunton, there's some people that don't even think we have a pelvic floor or they'll use terms like down there, like you said, they don't use vagina. They don't talk about any of that. And men too have pelvic floors, men, pelvic floor dysfunction can show itself as erectile dysfunction. It can show itself as back pain, tight hips, even in women. Right? And there's a main nerve that comes out of our brain down into that area of our body called the ental nerve. And the Al nerve is pretty special. Cause it does two main things. It's a sensory nerve. So the sensuality of that area of our body, and it's a motor nerve, it's like the main messaging system from our brain to our pelvic floor.
(22:58): And even things as simple as our posture, putting our phone in our back pocket. Think back to our high school days. I know maybe some of you were like me where I would lay on my bed with a coat hanger to zip up my acid wash jeans, cuz they were so tight, right? Like remember those days. And so even the clothing that we wear, the shoes that we wear, it all plays into this ability for this floor. It's a series of muscles that are kind of layered on each other, like a hammock. And over time when we don't take care of it because we live on a planet with gravity, prolapse can be an outcome of a lack of pelvic floor understanding and health because those organs can start to descend mm-hmm <affirmative> and we can fix in a grade one and two, but once those organs have start to displace themselves outside of the body, all the cooch ball work in the world is not gonna bring those back up inside. So we wanna avoid that,
(24:01): Right? Oh my God. So this is such a good conversation. So I have to give a little Latin lesson real quick. When I was in medical school and we had to learn anatomy, we had this ginormous book with all these Latin terms and we had to memorize them. I was obsessed with looking up at the origins of these words. So Pual is from Latin. It means ashamed. And it is the nerve that interviews the vulva and vagina. Is that ridiculous? Right? And that's where hysterectomy comes from. They said that that was what made a woman's womb is what made her hysterical. So hysterectomy was taking out the hysteria part of her. So I know, I hope everyone is very upset right now hearing this, but this is how the female genitalia has been named. So there's a reason why we're all ashamed to say vagina.
(24:52): We act like we don't have one. We call it down there. And so I wanna say free yourself, everybody pause this recording. And I want you to scream out loud right now, vagina, vagina, vagina. <Laugh> okay. And start calling your parts by their anatomic names. But actually vagina comes from also, I can't remember if it's Greek or Latin, which means the sheath of a man's sword. That's what vagina comes from. So you really don't wanna call it that either. So Yi is kind of the thing that we should be calling it. So I correct myself. I forgot that. So Yi. So anyway, I had to say that, but I think this is fascinating. What you're saying about girls, young girls. I had no idea about that. And then I also wanted to ask you, a lot of women suffer with Vaness, you know, where they get this spasm of those pelvic floor muscles, making intercourse painful, if not impossible, especially if there's a history of sexual trauma. Is this something that you would include in pelvic floor dysfunction that the ball that you're gonna tell us all about in a second might help.
(26:02): Yeah, absolutely. And you know, there is such a right now my latest anatomical obsession is the so as muscle and I'm like really diving D I, I go through these phases, right. And I am just right now, like super obsessed with the function that the, so as plays with the pelvic floor and the pelvic organs and the location of them. And so when you talk about Vaness and any sort of like spasmodic experience that, that people have when I'm using and kind of coaching on with, with my coach ball clients, sometimes we don't go right into the pelvic floor. Like we actually will work around it. So we'll get them, get them to actually start using their ball. And we'll talk more about it as a way to like a pelvic floor release laying on their tummy or sorry, a so as release, laying on their tummy, we'll do a lot of work into the sacrum, you know, into that SI area with the ball, we do a lot of release work through part of the glute, especially through the pure form.
(27:12): And we start to just gently pay attention to get some healthy blood flow and a little bit of like aha around the area. And then, you know, we'll come into working with the pelvic floor, cuz sometimes there's such a pattern like you, you mentioned trauma, especially with sexual trauma. There is such a deeply rooted pattern neurologically that the Physica like, you know, that woman literally has no control will just get, even get the ball close to her, sitting on it. And she's like, I'm out camped. Right? Right. So we really have to focus on and we play around with breath. We'll do some sniffing breath. We'll do some more calming breath work. And that's why it's kind of like that. I always explain it to my women. Like if you see a squirrel and you've got a handful of sunflower seeds and you really want that little squirrel to eat those sunflower seeds, you kind of have to turn your head away from the Palm of your hand. As you slowly bring it down to the ground and slide over to the squirrel. Otherwise if you come hard and fast, the squirrel's gonna dart, right? Mm-Hmm <affirmative> this in a lot of cases with our pelvic floor, we need to come at it in a slow, steady way so that our brain, our mind and our body can come together to start to have a bit of a healing experience.
(28:34): Okay. Great point. So now let's get to talking about this amazing device that you developed and I know everybody can't see because this is audio only. So you're gonna have to check out Jana's webinar on it. She'll and you can watch it. So talk about the Cooch ball.