WHAT ARE THE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES?
A woman’s pelvic floor is a hammock-like group of muscles that originate from the pubic bone at the front and attach to the tailbone at the rear.
These muscles are designed to:
- Support the pelvic organs: bladder, uterus and bowel
- Assist in the opening/closing of these organs
- Prevent incontinence and prolapse
- Help contract intra-abdominal pressure
The voluntary contraction of pelvic floor muscles also allow for sexual sensation and arousal, yes!
It’s not easy to train a muscle that you can’t see. Did you know up to 40% incorrectly contract their pelvic floor muscles with verbal instruction?
WHAT ARE CORE MUSCLES?
Core muscles is a collective term for the transverse abdominus, multifidus, diaphragm and pelvic floor muscles. These muscles work together to help you move and support your spine and pelvis. For this reason, it is important to practice good breathing techniques to ensure optimal recruitment and minimise downward stress on the pelvic floor especially during the pre and postnatal periods or surgery.
WHAT IS PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION?
This refers to the signs and symptoms that arise from changes in the way the pelvic floor muscles, fascia, and organs work including:
These concerns can be embarrassing and often have a negative impact on the quality of life.
ARE ALL THESE PROBLEMS DUE TO PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLE WEAKNESS?
The short answer is no! Pelvic floor muscles, like all muscles, are designed to contract and relax. Dysfunction can arise from either weakness (lacking strength and/or endurance), hypertonicity (muscles that are working too hard and don’t know how to switch off) or co-ordination difficulties.
WHAT ARE THE RISK FACTORS FOR WOMEN’S PELVIC FLOOR DYSFUNCTION?
- Pregnancy and childbirth (it doesn’t matter if you birthed vaginally or via a C-section)
- A history of constipation
- BMI >25 kg/m2
- A history of heavy lifting (occupational or recreational)
- A history of chronic cough, smoker’s cough, bronchitis or asthma
- Hormonal (decrease in estrogen)
There are also reasons why you should get your pelvic floor muscles checked before you give birth. These muscles play a large role in pregnancy and childbirth and it’s always an advantage to know what to do beforehand, for pelvic floor healing.
CHECK IF YOU REQUIRE PHYSIOTHERAPY FOR YOUR PELVIC FLOOR:
- Accidentally leak urine when you exercise, play sports, laugh, cough, or sneeze?
- Need to get to the toilet in a hurry, and do you sometimes not make it there in time?
- Constantly need to go to the toilet?
- Find it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel?
- Accidentally loose control of your bowel, or accidentally pass wind?
- Have a prolapse (e.g. a feeling of heaviness, discomfort, pulling, bubble or dragging in vagina or feel/see a bulge)?
- Experience pelvic pain or pain during or after sex that involves vaginal penetration?
- If you answered yes to any of these questions, it may be time to consult with a physiotherapist.
At the Embrace Physiotherapy clinic, we help women embrace and regain control of their lives through physiotherapy. If you have any questions about a woman’s pelvic floor or are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction, do email us or call us at 9780 7274.
You can also visit our website to learn about other women’s conditions we treat through physiotherapy.