What Does the Pelvic Floor Do?
Hi friends! This week we are going to take a step back and talk about the role of the pelvic floor muscles. In this blog, we often discuss different conditions or problems with the pelvic floor muscles, but today we will talk about what the pelvic floor muscles do for us!
The pelvic floor muscles sit at the base of the pelvis and form the bottom of the pelvis like a bowl. The muscles have 4 main functions: support, sphincteric, sexual, and stability.
Support: The pelvic floor muscles sit at the base of the pelvis and help to support the pelvic organs. This includes the bladder and rectum as well as the uterus in those with a vagina and the prostate in those with a penis. These muscles need to have good strength, endurance, and tone to be able to support these organs throughout the day, especially as we are active.
Sphincteric: The pelvic floor muscles play a role in controlling when we pee or poop, and our ability to keep pee and poop in. While there are other involuntary muscles that assist in this job, the pelvic floor muscles have an important job. The pelvic floor muscles need to be coordinated to do the right thing at the right time. They need to squeeze to keep the urethra (where pee exits) and the anus (where poop exits) closed and they need to lengthen to open to allow pee, poop, or gas to exit.
Sexual: In all individuals, regardless of gender, the pelvic floor muscles play a large role in sexual function. The muscles are active during sex and orgasms. They help with tone and sensation and maintaining erections. While tone can improve pleasure for both partners, the pelvic floor muscles need to be able to relax at the right times so that entry and sex are painless.
Stability: The pelvic floor muscles work as a part of the core muscles. The core is like a barrel that helps to keep the spine, pelvis, and abdominal contents stable and secure. The diaphragm, our primary breathing muscles, makes up the top of the barrel. The transverse abdominus, a deep abdominal muscle, makes up the front of the barrel. The back of the barrel is made up of the multifidus muscles. The bottom of the barrel is the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles all need to work together to keep our bodies strong during activity.
When the pelvic floor muscles are damaged, weak, or uncoordinated, we can start to see issues with the above functions. There may be urinary or fecal leakage, constipation or straining to pee, bulging of the pelvic organs, pain with sex, or pain in the back, hips, abdomen, or pelvis. There is hope and help if you are experiencing problems with the pelvic floor muscles. Ask your provider for a referral to a pelvic therapist or find one near you at www.mypfm.com/find-a-pt.
Ready to learn more about your pelvic floor muscles? Here are some helpful resources:
Watch Netflix for Your Pelvic Floor at Pelvic Flicks
Visit our YouTube channel for more on the pelvic floor.
Learn more about the pelvic floor muscles with our book: My Pelvic Floor Muscles The Basics: Learn where the pelvic floor muscles are, what they do, and how they work
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Visit our Instagram page for more on pelvic health.
For providers, check our online courses to help your clients. Consider joining our Ambassador Program and most of our courses are included with your membership!
Intro to Male Pelvic Health with Gerard Greene, MSc (Manip Physio), MMACP, PG Cert HEd
Orthopedic Pelvic Assessment and Treatment for the Pelvic Pain Population with Dr. Kelli Wilson, PT, DPT, OCS, FAAOMPT
Pelvic PT Evaluation of the Pelvic Floor Muscles with Dr. Samantha Richter, PT, DPT, WCS
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT