What is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is a set of muscles that spread across the bottom of the pelvic cavity like a hammock or basket of muscles. The pelvic floor has three openings that run through it, the urethra, the vagina, and the rectum. The functions of the pelvic floor include:
- Supporting pelvic organs, specifically the uterus, bladder, and rectum.
- Assist in sphincter control for the bladder and bowel function.
- Withstand increases in pressure that occur in the abdomen, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, straining, and lifting so as to prevent leakage of urine or stool during these activities.
- Enhance the sexual response.
- Steady the hips, lumbar spine, sacrum and the pelvis.
What are the Consequences of a Weak Pelvic Floor?
When a woman ages or after childbirth, the pelvic floor muscles may begin to sag and weaken as a result of stress placed on them. Many conditions can stress the pelvic floor including:
- Pregnancy & childbirth
- Chronic constipation
- Repetitive straining due to heavy lifting, coughing
- Weakened pelvic floor muscles over time can lead to pelvic organ prolapse, or the falling of a uterus, bladder or rectun into the vaginal canal
- The most common symptoms of a weak pelvic floor are involuntary leakage of urine or stool (urinary and fecal incontinence)