Many moms joke about how they pee when they laugh. Movies, media and pop culture have normalized
this as part of motherhood and aging when in fact it isn’t normal. Into old age or after giving birth, it’s
more common to leak when you run, jump, laugh or sneeze but incontinence is treatable. June 20 – 26 is
World Continence Week, a worldwide health campaign to raise awareness of incontinence related
issues. We chatted with Kim Vopni, the Vagina Coach about pelvic floor health, normalizing the
conversation around incontinence and some of the simple ways we can strengthen our pelvic floor
Tell Us About The Vagina Coach
I’m a preacher and an advocate. I’m an educator, speaker, teacher, and a support person for anyone
with a vagina or uterus. People trust and relate to me because I have been through it myself. My
business was realized out of my own needs and experience. I have suffered incontinence; I’ve suffered
prolapse twice and I’ve overcome it. I’ve supported a lot of people through their challenges because I
can relate to their struggle. Women have a different level of trust knowing I understand the emotion
and the fears surrounding the pelvic floor.
My coaching fills the gap between pelvic physical therapy and general fitness. Surprisingly, many in the
fitness industry don’t have a lot of knowledge about the pelvic floor. I work with clients to improve their
issues through their movement, lifestyle and behaviour.
Can You Tell Our Audience The Definition of a Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that close off the base of our pelvis which has the pubic joint, the
tailbone and the sitz bones acting as the attachment points for those muscles. The pelvic floor is the
group of muscles in both male and female anatomy that support organs, maintain and regulate
continence and play a role in sexual response.
What is the connection between a person’s pelvic floor and incontinence?
The pelvic floor muscles regulate the openings. Females have a urethra and a vagina and an anus. The
pelvic floor keeps those closed when we don’t want things to be coming out and they allow them to
open when we do want something to come out or go in, in the case of sex. Stress Urinary Incontinence
(SUI) is when muscles can’t react in time or with enough force to close the urethral opening and prevent
urine leaking out.
How Can Pregnant People or New Moms Benefit From Learning More About Pelvic Floor Challenges?
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles are managing an ever-increasing load. As the baby grows, the
center of gravity in the body shifts with the belly growing. Hormone and postural changes create stress
on the pelvic floor muscles throughout pregnancy.
Then there’s birth itself. If you have a vaginal birth, there’s a direct impact to the pelvic floor and an increased likelihood of experiencing pelvic floor challenges after pregnancy. With a caesarean birth, the pelvic floor is still influenced by the weight of the baby and hormones. In addition, there are multiple layers of incisions through the core which the pelvic floor is a part of.Pregnancy is an opportune time to learn about and begin strengthening the pelvic floor. It’s also important in pregnancy to be thinking about the recovery which is so often overlooked. During the initial six to eight week postpartum period, pelvic floor restorative exercise goes a long way to re-establishing strength and reminding the pelvic floor of its role.
Incontinence is a sensitive issue. Why do you think so many people are afraid to talk to their doctor
about this challenge?
Shame, taboo, embarrassment, fear, trauma – all sorts of emotion can be tied into the pelvic floor. It’s
already a difficult part of the body for many people to talk about, even when it’s functioning well. So
when something’s going wrong, there’s an additional level of embarrassment or shame. There are
several issues that prevent people speaking to their doctor. Sometimes they’re embarrassed or ashamed
to discuss their issues as they feel they should manage it privately. Care providers often don’t have the
time to discuss and ask questions about the pelvic floor as their focus is often on ruling out other health
They’re not asking about experiencing urgency or leakage so unless the patient brings them up,
these issues aren’t covered. Other times, people don’t ask questions because they don’t think it’s a
problem. Media has normalized incontinence as part of being a woman. Others are afraid to bring it up
for fear of embarrassing the care provider. There are a lot of different factors that come into play, and
we can’t discount the fact that we are sent messages, sometimes from care providers, that it’s just a
normal part of aging and menopause or the result of giving birth.
How can The Vagina Coach improve the quality of life for people suffering from incontinence?
Much of what I do is education. There is so much we aren’t told about our bodies so when something
isn’t working as it should, we need to understand why before we can improve the condition. Often
habits or lifestyle factors are contributing to the problem so through awareness, simple behaviour
changes and exercises, we see results. I incorporate a lot of movement into my coaching as I want to
reflect real life. Rarely are we leaking when we’re sitting still, it’s when we’re out and moving around
that problems arise.
I’ve helped clients who’ve worn pads for years, stop needing them and start enjoying their lives. Clients
who never golfed because they knew they couldn’t go long periods of time without needing to change
their pad or use the washroom are now doing what they love again. Incontinence can have a real
negative effect on other lifestyle factors so when we improve pelvic floor health, we’re really improving
overall health as well as quality of life.
For those that aren’t ready to talk openly about their issues or who are wanting to prepare themselves
for birth or menopause, I have a Kegel Quiz and an app called the Buff Muff. These allow you to learn
and practice all in the privacy of your home. I host events called Kegels and Cocktails™ to help normalize
the conversation around pelvic floor health and give women a safe, fun environment to learn about all
things south of the belly button.
Tell us about your Kegel Quiz!
The Kegel Quiz is a two-minute quiz on my website that asks questions to determine if you’re doing
Kegels correctly and what kind of Kegels would benefit you. Many people are told, to ‘do your Kegels’
without ever being told how. I see people squeezing their butt cheeks and holding their breath thinkingthey’re doing a Kegel when they’re not so my quiz aims to demystify the Kegel through some simple
questions and suggestions.
What do you say to those who believe incontinence is a “taboo topic?”
You are not alone. While incontinence isn’t “normal”, it’s very common. Statistically, close to 40% of
women suffer, and those are just reported cases. I would also say that it is treatable. There are a lot of
options available, many which you can implement on your own if you want to experience change.
Incontinence isn’t something that just gets better with time. Ignoring the problem will in the long run
give you a bit bigger hurdle to jump over.
Women’s health isn’t talked about enough. The more we talk openly about the challenges many of us
are facing, the less taboo these topics will be, and the more women will seek treatment. There are so
many other health issues that lead back to the pelvic floor. We should be starting this conversation
much earlier in life, in school, where we stress the importance of this group of muscles and discuss the
different stages that women go through. There are things we can begin doing early to maintain integrity
of the pelvic floor. The more we share openly about the challenges many of us are facing, the less taboo
these topics will be, and the more women will seek treatment and go on to live longer and happier.
Thank you for having this conversation and shedding light on pelvic floor health. I can’t say enough how
important sharing this information is.