Pelvic Floor - What You Need To Know
Updated: Aug 26, 2020
1 in 3 women experience pelvic floor problems. It’s a topic that feels embarrassing to talk about. But once you do talk about it you realise how common it is. I work with women every day, and I can tell you from experience that it is more common than you realise and can affect women at any age. Ignoring a weak pelvic floor can lead to further issues, such as prolapse where one or more organs in the pelvis slip down and bulge into the vagina. So, it’s worth making the leap to speak to someone if you are unsure.
Let's dive into what you need to know about the Pelvic Floor.
What is the Pelvic Floor?
The Pelvic Floor is made up of layers of muscle that stretch between the tailbone (coccyx), pubic bone and both sit bones. These muscles span the base of the pelvis and support your internal organs, namely your bladder, bowel and uterus. There are three holes within the pelvic floor, the urethra, vagina and anus. The pelvic floor muscles wrap quite tightly around these holes to help keep the passages closed. These muscles, just like many other muscles of the body, can be voluntarily contracted and hence strengthened. The difficulty for many women is that without being able to ‘see’ these muscles it can be hard to know if they are activating the correct ones
How to find your Pelvic Floor?
Traditionally you may have been told that a good way to strengthen your pelvic floor is to try to stop your pee mid-flow. Whilst this is a handy way to ‘find’ your pelvic floor muscles it should not be practised often as it can cause issues with emptying the bladder and urine infections. Instead, the best way to find them is to find somewhere comfortable to sit, lie or stand. Close your eyes and imagine you are trying to hold in wind. Then, carry that attention forward to imagine holding in a wee, and try to draw these muscles up and in. A visualisation we use in class is imagining there's a jellybean sitting on the pelvic floor muscles and we try to lift the jellybean gently up. When practising your pelvic floor exercises try to do so in different positions to best adapt to the changing pressures you’ll face during a typical day.
Signs that you may have a weak or prolapsed Pelvic Floor
Accidentally leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
A frequent need to urinate. When you do go, you may stop and start many times.
Finding it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel
Accidentally passing wind
Pain in your pelvic area, or painful sex.
Pain in your lower back that cannot be explained by other causes.
A prolapse in women, this may be felt as a bulge in the vagina or a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, pulling, dragging or dropping
A prolapse in men may be felt as a bulge in the rectum or a feeling of needing to use their bowels but not actually needing to go
What you can do to strengthen your Pelvic Floor?
Come to class, we'll be focusing on this in each session
Book a Private Session to get specific exercises to suit you
Book in with a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist
Look into the app 'Easy Kegel' which you can download onto your phone
I hope this has helped give you a basic understanding of the pelvic floor and what it ‘looks’ like. It’s an easy muscle to forget as we can’t see it, it’s tricky to ‘feel’ for many and is in an area that is often a taboo. However, a strong pelvic floor can really help. Especially during pregnancy and labour, as we age, and can also improve your sex life (what more reason could you need?)
If you're unsure on any of this or feel like you need some extra help I highly recommend getting in touch with a Pelvic Floor Physio or specialist.