What’s Down There?

What’s Down There?

It’s time to get deep down into this important topic. Now before we go further what do you imagine when you hear the words pelvic floor? Some may picture an elderly woman experiencing incontinence. Some may imagine a pregnant woman doing their kegels on a swiss ball. Some may feel a little uncomfortable or even embarrassed.

It’s common to feel these emotions because the pelvic floor is rarely discussed, often
seen as taboo & biased towards these stereotypes. Numerous misconceptions surround the topic of the pelvic floor which hinder much needed progress. Therefore, this article will shed some light on the mysteries of the pelvic floor as well as why it is our professional imperative to educate ourselves and those around us on this topic.

So, what is the pelvic floor?

Imagine a circular trampoline attached from all directions that lowers down with added load but and raises back up when the added pressure is taken off. The pelvic floor is much like a trampoline, it is made up of muscles and connective tissue which attach to the front (pubic bone), back (coccyx) and sides (ischial tuberosities) of your pelvis. Like many other muscles the pelvic floor must be able to lengthen with pressure/load and contract to function optimally.

What are the functions of the pelvic floor?

– Bladder and bowel function: Controlling the release of urine, faeces & flatus through the ability to contract by tightening muscles around the urethra, vagina & anus or by relaxing the muscles to release and empty the bladder or bowel.
– Supports your internal organs such as the bladder, uterus for women, bowel and rectum:
connective tissue & muscles attached to the bony pelvis to form the base of the human
– Support bearing of child throughout pregnancy and requires relaxation with vaginal birthing
– Sexual function and the feelings of pleasure or pain: assist men with erectile function &
ejaculation. Pelvic floor muscle contractions can also increase sensation & sexual arousal.
– Part of the core: the pelvic floor works together with your abdominals, multifidus (deep back muscles) and diaphragm. Together these muscles support the spine and manage intra-
abdominal pressure.

Common issues of the Pelvic Floor
For those who are unfamiliar with pelvic floor conditions here are some common reasons clients seek help or feel the need to stop exercise. For some these conditions can even negatively impact their relationships and their activities of daily living such as travel & social events due to the live changing symptoms.

Pelvic organ prolapse:
– Weakening of pelvic floor muscles and/or connective tissue due to chronic straining or direct trauma such as child birth which can lead to a descend of the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, bowel, rectum) into the vagina.
– Symptoms include dragging, bulge or heaviness in the vagina, lower back pain, incontinence of urine or faeces, pain with penetrative sex, difficult completely emptying bladder or bowel

Stress urinary incontinence (SUI):
– Loss of urine control due to an increase in intra-abdominal pressure placed on a weakened
pelvic floor which reduces the ability to maintain closure of the urethra. Common activities
which can cause SUI include: coughing, laughing, lifting, jumping, running.
– Can be caused due to weak pelvic floor muscles or over-active/ tight pelvic floor muscles.
This is due to the loss of the muscles ability to lengthen and contract to perform effective
closure of the urethral sphincters. These conditions are common amongst older post-natal women, but not limited to this stereotype.

Yes, women who have not had children and even men can experience issues with their pelvic floor. It is part of our anatomy like any other muscle. It plays a vital role with many important functions that can be life changing if not addressed appropriately.