WHAT ARE PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES?
Pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, bowel, and internal reproductive organs and give the pelvic floor area flexibility to help with bodily functions such as peeing, pooping, and sex. Pelvic floor muscles help control bodily functions, you can thank your pelvic floor muscles for the ability to control your urination.
The pelvic floor consists of two main muscles: the levator ani and coccygeus. These muscles also stabilize the core and help with lifting by helping absorb outside pressure to protect the core and spine (Cleveland Clinic, 2022). Have you ever noticed yourself peeing while lifting? That’s caused by overload to the pelvic floor muscles! Childbirth commonly weakens pelvic floor muscles due to repetitive stress and overuse. Pelvic floor muscles also weaken with time due to hormone changes during menopause. Weak pelvic floor muscles commonly lead to stress incontinence or peeing when you cough, laugh, lift, or sneeze. It may also cause anal incontinence, fecal incontinence, urge incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.
PELVIC FLOOR THERAPY
If you’ve ever heard about Kegels, then you’ve heard of pelvic floor therapy! Routinely performing pelvic floor exercises helps treat and strengthen weak pelvic muscles.
At-Home Pelvic Floor Exercises (NIH, n.d.)
- Empty your bladder
- Mentally think about and tighten the pelvic floor muscles and hold for a 10 count
- Completely relax the muscles for a 10 count
- Repeat 10 times, 3 to 5 times throughout the day
Other treatment for weak pelvic floor muscles includes formal pelvic floor therapy performed with a trained physical therapist who will help strengthen the core and pelvic muscles. Medical devices or surgery are also considered for more severe cases. Always speak to your healthcare provider if you have any questions or before starting any new treatments.
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-Written by Sabrina Park MPH