What Are Pelvic Floor Muscles?
Pelvic floor muscles are the collection of skeletal muscles covering the bottom edge of the abdominal cavity. They run from the pubic bone in the front to the coccyx (tail bone) in the back and attach to both sides of the pelvis. They form a “sling” at the base of the pelvic bowl and help to hold up the organs of that area, which include the bladder, uterus and the rectum.
What Do They Do?
Pelvic floor muscles have three main functions: supportive, sphincteric, and sexual. Strong pelvic floor muscles help to hold the pelvic organs in place against the pull of gravity. They also help you maintain control of your bladder and bowels by lifting the urethra and rectum to keep them closed. Finally, pelvic floor muscles play a role in sexual function by enabling the vagina to be lifted in tighter, thus increasing sensation, during intercourse. They can become weak or injured in different ways including birthing injuries or neurological dysfunction.
How Can I Keep Mine Strong?
You can strengthen pelvic floor muscles by routinely performing some exercises that target them. You should pull the muscles “up and in,” meaning if you had an object inserted into your vagina you would be pulling it into your body with these contractions. You can tell if you are using the correct muscles because the sensation of contraction the pelvic floor muscles is the same as when you stop your urine flow (however, this is NOT part of the exercise program, do not routinely stop your urine flow). Perform these contractions, being careful not to
substitute” with contraction of your abdominal, buttocks, or hip muscles. Try to contract the muscles as strongly as you can for as long as you can hold the contraction. Do as many of these “strong holds” as you can. Another exercise involves contractions of the same muscles, but in quick succession and as many as you can. A good format to begin with is:
Strong Hold: Quick Hold:
5 repetitions of 10 second holds 15 repetitions of 1-2 second holds
Rules to go by
Water intake should be 8-10 10 oz. glasses per day
You should void only 6-8 times in a 24 -hour period.
You should be able to go 2-5 hours between voids.
You should be able to count 8-10 seconds during the urine stream.
If you are younger than 65, you should not need to void in the middle of the night
Avoid bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, acidic juices, sodas, and nicotine