The pelvic floor is one of the most overlooked muscle groups in the human body. However, it has many important functions. If you want to take charge of your health, it’s essential to understand how your pelvic floor works and what you can do to improve this muscle group. Explore our guide to learn some surprising facts about the pelvic floor.
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Pelvic Floor Has a Unique Shape
The pelvic floor is truly a unique part of the body. While most muscle groups tend to stretch along bones and work with one or two other nearby muscles, the pelvic floor consists of 14 different muscles categorized into five separate layers. These muscles are wrapped from the front of the pelvis to the back, forming a sling-like shape around the gap across the bottom of the pelvic bone. This unusual construction helps to support your organs and assist with pelvic motions. The muscles can contract and relax, and you can move them independently and consciously.
Many Benefits To Having a Healthy Pelvic Floor
Your pelvic floor is essential to managing urination. If the muscles are too loose or too tight, you can end up dealing with urinary incontinence. Sometimes, women may experience bladder leakage when they sneeze, laugh or cannot fully void their bladders.
Your pelvic floor also helps to prevent prolapses. When your pelvic floor is strong enough, it helps support all the organs within your abdomen. If you have problems, you can deal with various uncomfortable prolapses. This is especially common among women who are pregnant or have given birth before.
In addition to preventing health problems, a well-toned pelvic floor is fun to have. Research shows that strong pelvic muscles help increase pleasure during sex. They lead to increased sensitivity and more intense orgasms.
A Tight Pelvic Floor Isn’t the Ultimate Goal
Many people assume it’s healthier to have a taut, firm pelvic floor. However, it’s important to realize that the pelvic floor is just like every other muscle: It’s meant to expand and contract, so it shifts around with the body’s natural motion. Therefore, having a very tight pelvic floor can be a problem. If your muscles aren’t loosening when they’re supposed to, you can end up with a hard knot of sore and uncomfortable muscles.
Having a healthy pelvic floor is about having muscles that maintain their proper tone. They should be able to both expand and contract with ease. In addition to being strong, they also need to easily elongate when having sex or going to the bathroom.
Kegels Aren’t for Everyone
If you have any pelvic floor issues, the first thing you’ll probably consider is doing Kegels. These are some of the most popular pelvic floor exercises, but they aren’t the cure-all treatment for pelvic floor issues. Kegels are specifically for tightening the pelvic floor. If your problem is overly short or spasming pelvic muscles, Kegels can actually make things worse.
Also, it’s easy to do Kegels incorrectly. Sometimes, when people try to do them, they can end up doing things like bearing down or clenching their butt cheeks. At best, this is ineffective, and at worse, you can make problems like urinary incontinence worse. This is why it’s essential to talk to an expert. They can help you find the right exercises for your situation and can make sure you’re doing them correctly.
Pelvic Floor Problems Can Be Hard To Spot
A common misconception is that pelvic floor problems always manifest as dripping urine after giving birth. While that is one sign of pelvic dysfunction, it’s not the only one. Though they’re more common in older women, pelvic problems can happen to anyone regardless of age, gender or parental status.
Various symptoms are associated with pelvic disorders. In addition to urinary incontinence, women may experience painful urination, loss of bowel control or a constant need to urinate. It can also manifest as pain or pressure around the rectum and vagina. In some cases, people may even notice a bulge near their pelvis, vagina or rectum.
Pelvic Floor Exercises To Try
If your situation doesn’t call for Kegels, there are some other treatments to try. What is pelvic floor therapy? It usually consists of doing many exercises and stretches to target your problem. Depending on your health needs, you might want to try one or more of these exercises:
- Bridge – This exercise involves lying on your back with bent knees and raising your pelvis.
- Squats – Squats require you to start in a standing position. Slowly lower your body until your knees are at a 90-degree angle, then stand back up.
- Heel slides – Lie on your back with your knees bent. Slide your leg into a straight position one leg at a time and then draw it back up.
- Happy baby pose – This stretching exercise consists of lying on your back and holding your feet while your legs are bent.
- Marches – Also called toe taps, this exercise involves lying on your back with your knees by your chest. Gently raise and lower each leg as if you are marching in place.
- Cat or cow stretch – To do this stretch, start on your hands and knees with your back straight. Alternate between arching your back during inhales and rounding it during exhales.
As you can see, the pelvic floor is a fascinating part of the body. When you take the time to manage your pelvic health properly, you can avoid major issues and enjoy a healthier, happier life.