The Pelvic Floor and its Daily Functions
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles found in the pelvis that attaches to the pubic bone, tailbone and sacrum, and sitting bones. When these muscles are contracted (squeezed), they work to lift the internal organs of the pelvis, and tighten the openings of the urethra, vagina, and anus. Relaxing the pelvic floor allows for the relaxation and opening of these orifices.
The pelvic floor has 6 main functions:
1. Bladder control
As the bladder fills, the pelvic floor muscles tighten around the urethra to prevent urinary leakage, and relax around the urethra to allow for the passage of urine. Pelvic floor dysfunction can result in symptoms such as urinary urgency, frequency, or leakage.
2. Bowel control
The pelvic floor muscles tighten around the rectal canal to prevent passage of gas or feces, and relax as we are passing a bowel movement. Pelvic floor dysfunction can result in constipation, fecal leakage, or unwanted passage of gas.
3. Sexual health
In women, adequate relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles is key for comfortable penetrative intercourse. As well, these muscles will contract voluntarily to contribute to sexual sensation and arousal. Pelvic floor dysfunction could lead to decreased ability to orgasm, pain, or urinary leakage during intercourse.
In men, the pelvic floor greatly influences erectile function and ejaculation. Associated pelvic floor symptoms include erectile dysfunction or pain with ejaculation.
4. Organ Support
In women, the pelvic floor plays a crucial role in supporting the bladder, uterus, and bowels. Pelvic floor dysfunction can result in a sensation of pressure, heaviness, or pain in the pelvic region.
In men, the pelvic floor acts to support the bladder and bowels
5. Strength and stability in the pelvis and low back
Our pelvic floor muscles are one of the muscle groups that make up the very important ‘core’, which stabilizes our low back, sacroiliac joints, hips, and pelvis. Importantly, the pelvic floor works with the other core muscles to create this stability when we are carrying out our daily activities, from rolling over in bed to performing a squat. Weakness, or loss of control in this muscle group is a key contributor to low back, sacroiliac joint, hip, and pelvic pain
Through their usual contractions and relaxations throughout the day, the pelvic floor muscles act to pump blood and lymphatic fluid back up towards the heart. A loss of this function can result in swelling and pelvic congestion.
If you suspect that your pelvic floor is not functioning optimally, contact us at Mississauga Pelvic Health. If you have any questions regarding Pelvic Health Physiotherapy and how it can help your symptoms, contact us to book a free 15 minute phone consultation with one of our Pelvic Health Physiotherapists.