I’ve always had a sensitive bladder. I peed the bed on and off until I was just too old. I’m not alone. Many women know the experience of taking off their underwear at the end of the day to discover, well, some leakage. Maybe you were laughing too hard all day. Maybe you just had a kid and pee simply seems to want to escape your body. Incontinence is a common and solvable problem.
That’s where comedian and physical therapist Elaine Miller comes in, stage name Gussie Grippers. Part of women’s health campaign PelvicRoar, Miller teaches pelvic floor health to new mothers, focusing on the common problem of incontinence. Decked out in an eye-catching pink vulva outfit, complete with brown streamers for pubic hairs and a bedazzled vaginal opening, she sings about pelvic floor health to a room full of dazed new moms.
“Does your cervix hang low, can you swing it to and fro? Can you tie it in a knot? Can you tie it in a bow?” She sings to the preschool tune of “do your ears hang low?” If you can tie your cervix like a shoelace, you may want to seek a doctor. That said, Miller’s point is that everybody’s reproductive parts are different and there’s no shame in that.
About one in three women experience incontinence, versus about one in nine men. More women experience leakage than men because, as Miller explains in the video, “it’s not their undercarriages that are torn apart by the skulls of their ungrateful spawn.”
One problem standing in the way of better pelvic health for these women is that many people don’t know what a pelvic floor even is. For those who may not know, your pelvic floor connects your bladder, rectum and, in women, your uterus and vagina.
Miller teaches women about pelvic floor muscle exercise called kegels. These exercises can prevent leaking and produce stronger, more frequent orgasms. They can also prevent significant and painful health issues like endometriosis (when your uterine lining grows outside your uterus). To do a kegel, you simply squeeze your pelvic muscles like you’re holding in a fart then let go.
Kegels are easy but many women don’t know that they should do them, much less how to do them. Women often just put up with a leaky urethra. “There are myths that leaking is part of aging or parenthood,” says Miller. These myths leave women with embarrassing pee accidents sometimes for years because all they’re told is that childbirth and aging destroys your genitals for sex. But the “that sucks, oh well” attitude isn’t good enough. “We want people to know that they should not put up with it,” says Miller.
Miller’s mission is not just solving incontinence, but demystifying and de-mythologizing female genitals as a whole. Early in the PSA, Miller defines the vulva versus the vagina, two separate anatomical terms often conflated when discussing female genitalia. “If you can see it, that’s your vulva, and if somebody’s rooting about inside it, that’s your vagina.”
It’s no coincidence that we routinely ignore the vulva and define the whole female genital package as the vagina, the part penises go into and babies come out of. That’s the part that matters according to, you guessed it, the patriarchy.
Women don’t have to search hard for tools to improve pelvic floor health. Any reputable, sex positive sex shop includes kegel exercisers. They’re fun, sexy toys in their own right. There’s no reason why doing kegels should be any less common or fun than doing push-ups and squats at the gym. Plus doing them can help decrease the amount you leak a little pee while doing those squats at the gym. We’ve all been there.