Pelvic Floor Explained

Male Pelvic floor

female pelvic floor

The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles that sit in the pelvis and act like a sling to support the pelvic organs. The muscles wrap around the urethra (from the bladder) and the rectum and anus. In women they also wrap around the vagina.

Roles of the pelvic floor muscles:

Sexual function The muscles contract during orgasm.  A healthy pelvic floor creates bigger and stronger orgasms.

Bladder function The pelvic floor muscles contract to prevent a loss of urine when there is increased pressure: coughing, sneezing, jumping etc. The muscles relax to allow urine to pass through the urethra when we want to empty our bladder. 

Bowel function The muscles keep stool in the rectum until we are ready to empty, then the muscles relax to allow our bowels to empty without having to strain.

Support of the pelvic organs within the pelvis.

Stability  the muscles create stability of the pelvic girdle, and are part of the core muscles which help to maintain spinal stability.


Pelvic Floor Problems

A healthy pelvic floor is strong and flexible, and is able to contract and relax easily like the muscles in our arms and legs.  We can have a problem with our pelvic floor muscles because they are too weak, too tense, too stiff, or if they are unable to work in coordination with other muscle groups. Often we will find a combination of these problems. 

The role of the pelvic health physiotherapist is to identify which specific problems a person has, as this will direct us towards a treatment path tailored to you. This is also why there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to Kegel exercises.

Weak pelvic floor muscles need to be strengthened and tight pelvic floor muscles need to be taught to relax. 

Tight muscles can also be weak muscles. However they need to be lengthened (learnt how to relax) before being strengthened.

The goal is to be able to move the muscles through their full range, in coordination with other muscle groups and during functional activities.

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