The pelvic floor is defined as a dome-shaped muscular sheet that separates the pelvic cavity above the perineal region below. Pelvic floor muscles are critical in humans as they provide the natural ability to release feces, urine, and flatus. It delays the emptying of such body substances until it is convenient.
Moreover, it is responsible for sexual function in males and females as it enables ejaculation and erectile function in men while voluntary squeezing leads to sexual arousal and sensation. It is, therefore, important to exercise the pelvic floor muscle to perform such important biological roles effectively. Keeping the pelvic floor muscles strong is no option but a necessity.
Position of Pelvic Floor Muscles in Men and Women
Pelvic floor muscles are made uniquely to support a man’s bowel and bladder. Both the anus and urethra pass through the pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor muscles are organized to support the bowel, bladder, and uterus in women. The anus, urethra, and vagina pass through the pelvic floor muscles.
Signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD)
Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when the pelvic floor muscles malfunction or weak, losing the ability to fully support the pelvic organs, leading to pelvic floor disorders. The pelvic floor disorders include but are not limited to overactive bladder, urinary or fecal incontinence, and pelvic organ prolapse.
Pelvic floor muscles can be hypertonic (too overactive or tight) or hypotonic (too lax or weak. These conditions sometimes are called non relaxing pelvic floor dysfunction and relaxing pelvic floor dysfunction.
More chronically, pelvic floor dysfunction can occur on a continuum, experiencing both the non relaxing pelvic floor and relaxing pelvic floor issues. It is worth noting that inactive muscles do not cause pelvic floor problems.
Pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) is common though people are not aware of its commonness among people. The disorders are treatable.
The signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction (PFD) include:
- urinary leakage (leaking urine or stool)
- lower back pain
- pain with sexual intercourse
- pelvic pressure or fullness (pressure or discomfort in the pelvis)
- pelvic muscle spasms
- urinary incontinence
- pain in the pelvic region or genitals
- the frequent urge to urinate or painful urination
- difficulty emptying the bladder or bowels completely.
- seeing or feeling a bulge protruding out of the vagina or anus
Why Do These Exercises?
Even if a person is not experiencing the signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, it is advisable to do pelvic floor muscle exercises as part of the daily routine to keep fit and improve the overall life quality.
Among other signs and symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction, pelvic floor exercises help resolve the problem of urinary incontinence and pain during sex in women.
Types of Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
The three most common exercises for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles are:
Squats: Squats do strengthen pelvic floor muscles. You can squat by standing upright with your feet shoulder-width apart, bend the knees in a posture that resembles sitting down on a chair, and push yourself back up. Do this particular exercise thrice a day in sets of ten.
Kegel: this is the most popular form of pelvic floor muscle exercise. This means you contract the pelvic floor muscles, hold them for five seconds, and finally release them for five seconds. Do this exercise thrice a day in sets of ten.
Bridge: bridges can help the pelvic floor muscles though they are primarily done to strengthen the buttocks. Doing a bridge involves lying down on the floor with the knees bent at a ninety-degree angle. Squeeze the glutes and pelvic floor muscles to push the hips off the ground. Hold it for a minimum of five seconds and slowly release it back to the ground. Do this exercise thrice a day in sets of ten.
Importance of Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises
It is easier to control the pelvic floor muscles by training them to their roles perfectly well.
The following are the importance of pelvic floor muscle exercises:
- Makes excretion easy.
- Improves sexual activity.
- Reducing pain during sex.
- Helping in the treatment of urinary incontinence.
- Making the process of child birthing much easier.
- Decreasing the possibility of incontinence after childbirth.
- Preventing pelvic floor prolapse.
- Strengthening support for the baby during pregnancy.
- Bettering recovery after prostate surgery in men.
- Improving bowel and bladder control.
- Increasing quality of health and social confidence.
Pelvic floor muscle exercises are beneficial in several ways, and it is recommendable for everyone to adopt a pelvic floor exercise program for better personal wellbeing and life.