Pelvic floor muscles are the layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs and span the bottom of the pelvis.
The pelvic organs are the bladder and bowel in men, and bladder, bowel and uterus in women.
According to a study (1) on pelvic floor disorders, one-quarter of adult women suffer from at least one pelvic floor disorder (PFD), and this number is set to rise by 2050.
Though PFD is a huge concern for women (and men), there is still a lot of stigma surrounding the topic due to the embarrassment around urine leaks, constipation, painful sex and loosening of the muscle.
Moreover, practitioners that dismiss symptoms or are unaware of pelvic floor issues can make matters worse.
The pelvic area is an important aspect of self-care and body-awareness.
What are the functions of the pelvic floor?
The pelvic muscles support the bladder, bowel, and uterus. When they contract, the organs are lifted and the openings to the vagina, anus, and urethra are tightened.
When the muscles are relaxed, urine and feces can be released from the body.
Pelvic floor muscles also play an important role in sexual function.
Strengthening these muscles can reduce pelvic pain during sex and increase the ability to achieve pleasurable sensations.
During pregnancy, pelvic floor muscles support the baby and assist in the birthing process.
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There are four main functions of the pelvic floor area.
- Support: The pelvic floor area supports and holds the bladder, uterus, and intestine in place within the pelvis
- Buffer: The pelvic floor area works to lessen the pressure from the abdomen from coughs, sneezes, and the weight of pregnancy
- Closing: This function works to prevent bladder and anal leakage
- Opening: This function helps to relax bodily openings to help facilitate entrance and exit to the vagina and anus. This affects not only sex but also the digestive system.
Where is the pelvic floor located?
The pelvic floor area encompasses your core as they work together to help with the main functions mentioned above.
In front, you have the pubic bone and the abdominal muscles. Behind you have the spinal column.
On top is the diaphragm and at the bottom are the pelvic floor muscles.
The Pelvic floor muscles are a web of muscles and tissues that circle around the areas that allow the matter to pass through the body.
When it’s in a relaxed state, it allows urine to pass from the bladder to the urethra, defecation to pass from the rectum to the anus and eases childbirth as the baby passes from the uterus and out the vagina.