I am no stranger to bodily functions.

Just the same as everybody else, I wee, poo, vomit, cough, spit, and bleed as my body demands.

Having had three babies and a couple of miscarriages my body has been through its share of trauma and recovery. I pretty much thought I had experienced it all, but the last two weeks have introduced another situation that makes me aware of ?how my body works.

I’ve had a cold – snotty nose, hacking cough, stuffed sinuses, and a headache. ?My senses of smell and taste are almost non-existent and my appetite went on holiday (sick bonus – I dropped 5kg in a week!). I’ve been taking herbs, zinc and Vitamin C, drinking green smoothies full of good nutrients and lots of water, everything I could think of to help myself get better.

On the occasions when I’ve had to try and persuade my nose to dry up for something, I’ve added a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil to my water and that has sorted me out for a little while.

But the thing that has been really aggravating though is the bladder incontinence I’ve developed when I cough!

As I said earlier, I’ve had three babies. ?I know about stress incontinence! ?That tiny leak that happens when you spontaneously join the kids’ ?skipping rope game or jump on the trampoline. ?The miniscule drops you can feel when you go for a run (not that I run much – ever!). ?The slight dampness when you’ve laughed so hard you have quite literally ‘wet yourself’.

We were all told about pelvic floor exercises after having babies. ?As a culture though, we don’t really talk about them, let alone do them. ?We live in a fair amount of ignorance about our pelvic floor and why it’s important. ?There’s a vague (and fearful) mention of incontinence when you’re older and that’s about it.

The pelvic floor is the layer of muscles supporting the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel and uterus), which stretches like a trampoline from the tailbone (coccyx) to the pubic bone from front to back, and from one sitting bone to the other from side to side.

Having a strong pelvic floor gives control over the bladder and bowel, and helps with sexual function and sensation (and satisfaction). The pelvic floor muscles in women also support the baby during pregnancy and help in the birthing process.

Plus, the muscles of the pelvic floor work with the abdominal and back muscles to stabilise and support the spine. (Remember all those calls to “work your core” from your trainer at the gym?)

Sometimes, after childbirth, with obesity, constipation, or during menopause the pelvic floor becomes weak. Incontinence is the word used to describe any accidental or involuntary loss of urine from the bladder, or faeces or wind from the bowel.

From my research I discovered that incontinence is quite widespread – over 4.8 million Australians have it to varying degrees. ?Thankfully, most of the time it can be treated and cured.

In other cultures, working on the pelvic floor is a part of daily life. ?In India they developed yoga practices to strengthen it. ?In the Middle East belly dancing is learned from a very young age. ?(When I went to belly dancing lessons many years ago, our teacher told us to imagine holding a pen in our vagina and to practice writing our names with it!) In Asia, they’ve been using jade eggs for centuries!

The other day, when I went to the chemist and bought a packet of incontinence pads for the massive coughing fits I’ve been having, I realised that my fitness routine has been lacking in pelvic floor strengthening exercises.

Today I placed an order for a three pack of jade eggs.

Do you consciously work to strengthen your pelvic floor?