What are Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The Importance of Pelvic Floor Muscles
Pelvic floor muscles work just like every other muscle. When they are strong they work better! So having strong pelvic floor muscles are essential in supporting the bladder and bowels. If your pelvic floor muscles are weak, you’ll lose control over your bladder and bowels (incontinence). It will be difficult to control the release of urine, faeces (poop), or flatus (farts). The release of these elements and the control over them is essential to a healthy body, making strong pelvic floor muscles incredibly important.
rnBut what are pelvic floor muscles? Where are they located? How can I thank them for their strength, or help to support them?rn
The Breakdown on Pelvic Floor Muscles
rnPelvic floor muscles line the bottom of the pelvis, like a pad. They are a layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs – the bladder, bowel, and uterus.rnrnThe pelvic floor muscles stretch from the tail bone to the pubic bone (front to back). Other complex layers of pelvic floor muscles stretch from other sitting bones of the pelvis (side to side). Normally, these muscles should be firm and thick.rnrnSo basically the pelvic floor muscles are like a rounded stretchy spring at the bottom of your pelvis. Like a spring they are strong and bounce up and down when necessary. The bladder, bowel, and uterus lie on this springy, supportive, muscular floor.rnrnYour pelvic floor muscle layer have small holes for the release of bodily fluids. Men have two holes in their pelvic floor layer, for the urethra and the anus. Women have three holes for the urethra, vagina and anus. The muscles tightly wrap around these holes to keep them shut. An extra layer of muscle hugs the anal sphincter and the urethral sphincter.rnrnWhen I say these muscles tightly wrap around these holes, I mean they SHOULD be tight. When they are weak, they loosely wrap around these holes, causing symptoms of incontinence.rn
But What do Pelvic Floor Muscles DO exactly?
rnThe holes I was talking about are called sphincters. Our brain sends signals to these sphincters to control the release of urine, faeces, and flatus. Sometimes our brain sends these signals automatically, or we consciously choose to close these sphincters to prevent the release of urine, faeces and flatus. When it is convenient, we can then release the tightened sphincter to let our bodily fluids pass through.rnrnWhen we close our sphincters it’s called a contraction. During a contraction the internal organs are raised and the sphincters tighten. When our pelvic floor muscles relax, we let urine, faeces and flatus pass.rn
How do We use them?
rnPelvic floor muscles provide support to the organs that lie on it. The sphincters give us conscious control over the bladder and bowel so that we can control the release of urine, faeces (poo) and flatus (wind) and allow us to delay emptying until it is convenient. When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, the internal organs are lifted and the sphincters tighten the openings of the vagina, anus and urethra. Relaxing the pelvic floor allows passage of urine, faeces and flatus.rnrnPelvic floor muscles are also a huge part of the sexual function in men and women. For men, these muscles are important for erectile function and ejaculation. For women these muscles contribute to sexual arousal because they can voluntarily contract for sexual sensation. They also provide support for women during pregnancy and assist in the birthing process. Pelvic floor muscles also work with the abdominal and back muscles which help support the spine. All our muscles are working together!rnrnSo that is the basic rundown of what pelvic floor muscles are. The causes of weak pelvic floor muscles can vary (obesity, disease, infection, injury, etc.). But you can gain better control over incontinence with pelvic floor training or help with a physical therapist. It’s important to know about pelvic floor muscles so you can strengthen your body and control leakage!