What Is Pelvic Floor Health And Why Is It Important?
Many people are unaware of what the pelvic floor is and why it is essential. Pelvic floor health is a crucial, yet often overlooked aspect of health. Maintaining good pelvic floor health is vital for overall well-being and for preventing various pelvic floor dysfunctions.
According to Regenerative Edge,”people of all genders can experience changes in bladder, bowel, or sexual health at any point in life. The pelvic floor muscles and their relationships with many aspects of our body often contribute to these changes. Through awareness, coordination, functional training, and wellness practices, you will be empowered and confident to reach beyond your goals.”
In this article, we will explore pelvic floor health, why it is important, and what you can do to maintain good pelvic floor function. By understanding the importance of pelvic floor health, you can take steps to improve and prevent or manage pelvic floor problems.
What Is Pelvic Floor Health?
The pelvic floor refers to a group of muscles, ligaments, and tissues that support the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum. Pelvic floor health refers to the proper functioning and strength of these muscles, which is important for various bodily functions such as bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and childbirth.
When the pelvic floor muscles are damaged or weak, it can lead to problems such as urinary or fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pain during sex, and difficulty with childbirth. Pelvic floor health is, therefore, essential for overall physical and emotional well-being.
There are many factors that can affect pelvic floor health, such as pregnancy and childbirth, obesity, chronic coughing or sneezing, aging, and certain medical conditions. Using pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve pelvic floor health. Other treatments may include pelvic floor physical therapy, medications, and surgery in severe cases.
Where Can I Find My Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The pelvic floor muscles are located at the base of the pelvis and form a sling-like structure that supports the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus or prostate, and rectum. The muscles attach to the pubic bone at the front of the pelvis and to the tailbone at the back of the pelvis.
They also wrap around the urethra, vagina, and anus in women and the urethra and anus in men. The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for controlling the opening and closing of the urethra and anus, as well as maintaining self-control and supporting sexual function.
What Happens If Your Pelvic Floor Is Either Too Loose Or Too Tight?
When the pelvic floor muscles are too loose, it is called pelvic floor weakness or pelvic floor dysfunction. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, including:
- Urinary incontinence or leakage
- Fecal incontinence or leakage
- Pelvic organ prolapse, which is when the pelvic organs sag into the vagina or rectum
- Reduced sexual sensation or pain during sex
- Chronic pelvic pain
On the other hand, when the pelvic floor muscles are too tight, it is called pelvic floor tension or pelvic floor hypertonicity. This can also lead to a variety of symptoms, including:
- Pain or discomfort in the pelvic region
- Painful intercourse
- Urinary urgency or frequency
- Difficulty starting or stopping urination
- Constipation or difficulty with bowel movements
Why A Healthy Pelvic Floor Is Important
A healthy pelvic floor is essential for several reasons, including:
- Urinary and bowel control: The pelvic floor muscles help to support the bladder, uterus or prostate, and rectum and play a crucial role in controlling urinary and bowel movements. A strong pelvic floor can prevent urinary and fecal incontinence, while weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to leakage or loss of control of urine or stool.
- Sexual function: These muscles also play a significant role in sexual function. Strong and flexible pelvic floor muscles can enhance sexual sensations, increase sexual pleasure, and help achieve orgasm. On the other hand, weak or tight pelvic floor muscles can cause discomfort or pain during sex and may impact sexual function.
- Prevention of pelvic organ prolapse: One other thing the pelvic floor muscles help with is the support of the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus or prostate, and rectum. Weak pelvic floor muscles can eventually lead to pelvic organ prolapse, where the organs sag or protrude into the vaginal or rectal area.
- Overall quality of life: A healthy pelvic floor can help to improve the overall quality of life by reducing the risk of urinary and bowel problems, preventing discomfort, and maintaining proper support for pelvic organs.
How To Strengthen And Rehabilitate The Pelvic Floor
Fixing a pelvic floor typically involves a combination of exercises and lifestyle modifications. Here are some steps you can take:
- Kegel exercises: Kegel exercises involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. This can be done by squeezing the muscles you would use to stop the urine flow. Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve urinary incontinence.
- Pelvic floor physical therapy: A pelvic floor physical therapist can help you to learn how to contract and relax the pelvic floor muscles correctly. They can also provide exercises and techniques to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve pelvic floor dysfunction.
- Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a technique that uses electrical sensors to monitor muscle activity and provide feedback on muscle contraction and relaxation. This can be helpful for individuals who have difficulty identifying and isolating the pelvic floor muscles.
- Electrical stimulation: Electrical stimulation involves using a small device to deliver electrical impulses to the pelvic floor muscles. This can help to strengthen and retrain the muscles.
- Lifestyle changes: Certain lifestyle factors, such as obesity, constipation, and chronic coughing, can put added strain on the pelvic floor muscles. Changing your diet, exercise routine, and habits can help alleviate this strain and improve pelvic floor function.
The Bottom Line
It is important to speak with a healthcare provider if you are experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction. Some individuals can experience symptoms of both pelvic floor weakness and tension at the same time, and treatment will depend on the individual’s specific symptoms and underlying cause.
Lucky for you, we offer in-home pelvic floor health care at Empowered Beginnings by Regenerative Edge Physical Therapy and Wellness.