So tell me… What is a pelvic floor?

Understanding the pelvic floor is our first step toward managing unwanted symptoms like pain or incontinence.

The ‘pelvic floor’ is a term given to a group of structures in the pelvis.

What many people think of, is the muscles in this area. But the pelvic floor is also made up of ligaments and fascia that support the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus and bowel).

The pelvic floor muscles make up the floor of the pelvis (hence the name). They start at the pubic bone and attach to the coccyx (or the tail bone). 

To put it simply the pelvic floor helps to support your pelvic organs, helps you to hold your wee and poo, as well as, letting it out when you want to.

When these muscles (and ligaments/fascia) are not performing at their best, women can experience symptoms such as pain, incontinence (leaking wee or poo), constipation and prolapse just to name a few.

So what’s with the term Kegels?

When you think of pelvic floor muscles, the term Kegels is normally what comes to most people’s minds.

That was the name of a man who gave rise to pelvic floor exercises (Dr Arnold Kegel). Doing a Kegel or a pelvic floor exercise is squeezing and lifting the muscle and then relaxing it.

As we can’t see the pelvic floor with our eyes (unlike the ones on our arms and legs), it is common for women to have trouble contracting this muscle and learning how to do the exercise can take some practice.

The most common mistake people make is by contracting other muscles in the area like their gluteal, thigh or tummy muscles. The key to doing a pelvic floor exercise is no one should be able to tell you are doing it (apart from maybe the concentration on your face).

There are several factors that can weaken the pelvic floor, for example:

  • pregnancy
  • vaginal birth
  • chronic cough
  • chronic constipation/straining
  • menopause

On the flip side, a pelvic floor muscle that is tight or unable to let go of tension can contribute to pain conditions in the pelvis, difficulty letting go of the bladder or bowel and sexual dysfunction.

Are you concerned about your pelvic floor?

Or would you like to learn more about your body and how ‘caring for your pelvic floor’ can prevent issues like incontinence and prolapse down the track?

Please get in contact to make an appointment with a physiotherapist trained in women’s health and book an individual assessment.

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