About pelvic floor muscles

The pelvic floor muscles are located between the tailbone (coccyx) and the pubic bone within the pelvis. They support the bowel and bladder (as well as the uterus and vagina in females).

Muscular bands (sphincters) encircle the urethra, vagina and anus as they pass through the pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, the internal organs are lifted and the sphincters tighten the openings of the vagina, anus and urethra. Relaxing the pelvic floor can allow for easy passage of urine and faeces. The pelvic floor muscles are very important in sexual function with a relaxation/ contraction combination allowing fun and pleasureable sex.

If your pelvic floor muscles are not functioning well, the internal organs will lack full support. This may stop you from being able to control your urine, faeces or wind.

Common causes of a weakened pelvic floor include pregnancy, childbirth, prostate cancer treatment in males, obesity and the associated straining of chronic constipation.

The symptoms of a pelvic floor dysfunction include: leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running

passing wind from either the anus or vagina when bending over or lifting reduced sensation in the vagina tampons that dislodge or fall out a distinct bulge at the vaginal opening a sensation of heaviness in the vagina a heaviness or dragging in the pelvis or back recurrent urinary tract infections, or recurrent thrush vulval pain, pain with sex, inability to orgasm Pelvic floor exercises

Before you start, direct your attention to your pelvic floor muscles. Try to relax your abdominal muscles. Don’t hold your breath. Gradually lift and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if you are stopping the flow of urine or stopping wind escaping. Release gently and slowly. Then perform the exercises, which include:

Squeeze and lift slowly making sure you can release fully each time. When you know you can lift and let go, then try to hold. Hold firmly for 5 building to 10 seconds while breathing normally. Release slowly. Repeat up to 10 times. Relax for 5 to 10 seconds between each one.

Perform quick, short, strong squeeze and lift. Repeat 10 times. Again, make sure you can release fully each time. Remember to squeeze and lift the muscles whenever you clear your throat, sneeze or cough.

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