Pelvic Floor | Glossary of Pregnancy & Baby Term
- Bambino Mio
- 24 / 07 / 2023
Inside this Article:
What is the pelvic floor?
Your pelvic floor muscles (1) are found between your coccyx (2) (your tailbone) and the pubic bone or pubis (3) within your pelvis. These muscles act as a sling to support the bowel and bladder in men and women and the uterus and vagina in women.
There are muscular bands, or sphincters, which encircle and enclose the urethra, vagina and anus as they pass through your pelvic floor. When you tighten or contract your pelvic floor muscles, these internal organs are lifted and their sphincters also tighten and close off the openings to the vagina, anus and urethra.
When you need to wee or poo, your pelvic floor muscles relax to let the sphincters open. Your pelvic floor is also very important for sexual function.
What happens if my pelvic floor muscles are weak?
If your pelvic floor muscles are weak or aren’t functioning as well as they should (4) then your internal organs won’t have the right amount of support. You might also find that your sphincters are also weak and so you don’t have full control over your urine, poo or wind.
What are some symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor?
- Leaking urine when laughing, coughing or sneezing
- Not getting to the toilet in time on occasions
- Reduced vaginal sensation
- A heavy or dragging feeling in the vagina, pelvis or lower back
- You find that tampons fall out or dislodge easily
What can cause a weakened pelvic floor?
The most common causes for a weak or damaged pelvic floor include pregnancy and childbirth (5), treatment for prostate cancer (in men), being overweight, suffering from chronic constipation which can make you strain to poo and aging.
Is there help for a weak pelvic floor?
Yes, you can do Pelvic floor exercises which can improve muscle tone and strength. Doing regular pelvic floor, or Kegel, exercises also helps you to be more mindful of these muscles so you’re less likely to, for example, leak urine when you laugh or sneeze.
Citations and References
- National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Library of Medicine. ‘Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis, Pelvic Floor.’ 2022. Web. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK482200
- Healthline. ‘Skeletal System. Coccyx.’ 2018. Web. www.healthline.com/human-body-maps/coccyx#1
- National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Library of Medicine. ‘Anatomy, Abdomen and Pelvis: Bones (Ilium, Ischium, and Pubis)’ 2022. Web. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK519524
- National Institutes of Health (NIH). National Library of Medicine. ‘Pelvic Floor Dysfunction.’ 2023. Web. www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK559246
- Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG). ‘Your Pelvic Floor.’ Web. www.rcog.org.uk/for-the-public/perineal-tears-and-episiotomies-in-childbirth/your-pelvic-floor/
- National Health Service (NHS). ‘Women’s Health. What Are Pelvic Floor Exercises?’ 2020. Web. www.nhs.uk/common-health-questions/lifestyle/what-are-pelvic-floor-exercises