You may have heard the term pelvic floor from a health practitioner, in an exercise class or by reading health articles and may not really be sure what the pelvic floor is and why it matters so much. Here’s a brief 101 on the pelvic floor, why it’s an important, yet forgotten part of women’s body’s and what you can do to support pelvic floor health.
What is the “pelvic floor”?
The pelvic floor consists of the muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues that support the bladder and rectum, as well as the uterus and vagina. The pelvic floor muscles are like a hammock, connecting to the pubic bone in front, to the tailbone in the back and from side-to-side between the sit bones.
Pelvic floor muscles help:
control your bladder and bowel,
provide stability and support to your spine and pelvis,
keep the pelvic organs in place and
play a role in sexual health
Why should I be concerned about my pelvic floor?
Pelvic floor issues are common among women and include:
Urinary leakage or incontinence
Chronic bladder or vaginal infections
Pelvic organ prolapse (bladder, uterus)
Pelvic pain (associated with pregnancy, labour, trauma)
Painful sexual activity, intercourse or sexual dysfunction
Postpartum concerns and recovery
Pelvic muscle weakness or tension
While these concerns may be common, many women are unaware or reluctant to seek help for them, often thinking that their concerns may be expected or “normal” as a result of childbirth or age.
It is also a common myth that Kegel exercises are the cure for every pelvic floor dysfunction. Kegels may not be right for everyone since not all pelvic floor dysfunction is due to muscle weakness, and in fact can be due to muscles that are too tight. When muscles are tight, trying to do exercises aimed at strengthening those already tight muscles isn’t going to help.
What if I have symptoms or a known pelvic floor dysfunction? What if I want to prevent pelvic floor issues?
Know that you’re not alone in experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction and know that there is professional support to help with your concerns or with pelvic wellness. Consider seeing Dr. Haarsma for Holistic Pelvic CareTM or a pelvic floor physiotherapist, to assess and address your pelvic floor health.