Pelvic Floor Exercises
Article by Nadine Stewart
What are the Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The floor of the pelvis is made up of layers of muscle and other tissues. These layers stretch like a hammock from the tail bone at the back to the pubic bone in front.
Female Pelvic Floor
A woman's pelvic floor supports the bladder, the womb (uterus) and the bowel. The urethra (front passage), the vagina (birth canal) and the rectum (back passage) pass through the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles play an important role in bladder and bowel control and sexual sensation.
Image 1: Female Pelvic Floor Muscles
Male Pelvic Floor
A strong pelvic floor muscle is equally important for men. It is just as vital for men to be encouraged to exercise their pelvic floor muscles, especially for men with specific health conditions.
Image 2: Male Pelvic Floor Muscles
Why Do the Pelvic Floor Muscles Weaken?
The pelvic floor muscles can be weakened by:
What are the Benefits of Pelvic Floor Exercises
It is important for both women and men of all ages to maintain pelvic floor muscle strength.
Women and men with stress incontinence, that is, those who regularly lose urine when coughing, sneezing or exercising, should especially benefit from these exercises.
For pregnant women, these exercises help the body to cope with the increasing weight of the baby. Healthy, fit muscles pre-natally will recover more readily after the birth.
In particular, as women grow older it is important to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong because at menopause the muscles change and may weaken. A pelvic floor exercise routine helps to minimise the effects of menopause on pelvic support and bladder control.
Likewise, men are more likely to have age-related onset on pelvic floor weakness.
Pelvic floor exercises may also be useful in conjunction with a bladder training program aimed at improving bladder control in people who experience the urgent need to pass urine frequently (urge incontinence).
How to Test Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
The first thing to do is to correctly identify the muscles that need to be exercised.
Women and men with very weak pelvic floor muscles can be taught these exercises by a physiotherapist or continence advisor with expertise in this area.
The good news is that your pelvic floor muscles can be tested and treated in the vast majority of cases without the need for internal examination or techniques.
What to do if you have Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles?
Your quickest and most effective way of training your correct pelvic floor muscles is with the assistance of a physiotherapist with a special interest in pelvic floor conditions. They will help you to:
Where to Seek Help for Your Pelvic Floor
We highly recommend that you seek the advice of a physiotherapist with a special interest in pelvic floor rehabilitation. Good results take time and it will take less time with the right advice.
In order to build up your pelvic floor muscles to their maximum strength, you will need to work hard at these exercises under the guidance of your pelvic floor physiotherapist.
What Else Can You Do to Help Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?
It is important to avoid activities that stress your pelvic floor. We suggest that you should:
Pelvic Floor Conditions
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