Female Pelvic Floor Muscles

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The human body is a marvelous creation, intricately designed with various systems and structures working in perfect harmony. Among these remarkable components are the pelvic floor muscles, which play a vital role in women’s health and well-being. Often overlooked or misunderstood, these muscles provide essential support for the pelvic organs and contribute to urinary and bowel control, sexual function, and overall core stability. This article will delve into the fascinating world of female pelvic floor muscles, exploring their anatomy, function, common issues, and methods to maintain their health.

Anatomy and Function

The female pelvic floor is a complex network of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues located at the base of the pelvis. It comprises three main layers: the superficial perineal muscles, the deep urogenital diaphragm, and the pelvic diaphragm. The pelvic floor muscles include the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle, the iliococcygeus muscle, and the puborectalis muscle. These muscles form a supportive hammock-like structure, extending from the pubic bone to the coccyx and from side to side across the pelvic cavity.

The primary functions of the female pelvic floor muscles are to provide support for the pelvic organs, including the bladder, uterus, and rectum, and to maintain continence. These muscles also contribute to sexual pleasure by contracting rhythmically during orgasm. Additionally, they coordinate with the abdominal and back muscles to stabilize the core and maintain proper posture.

Common Issues

 Despite their critical role, the pelvic floor muscles can experience various issues that affect women’s quality of life. One prevalent problem is pelvic floor dysfunction, which encompasses a range of conditions, including pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, and fecal incontinence. These conditions can arise from childbirth trauma, hormonal changes, obesity, chronic constipation, menopause, and aging.

Pelvic organ prolapse occurs when the pelvic organs sink from their normal positions and press against the vaginal walls. This can lead to symptoms such as a sensation of heaviness or pressure in the pelvis, urinary leakage, and difficulty emptying the bladder. Stress urinary incontinence, another common issue, involves the involuntary leakage of urine during activities that increase intra-abdominal pressure, such as coughing, sneezing, or exercising. Fecal incontinence refers to the inability to regulate bowel movements, leading to unwanted leakage or loss of stool.

Functions of Female Pelvic Floor Muscles

  1. Support and Stability: The pelvic floor muscles form a strong foundation that supports the pelvic organs. They work in conjunction with other structures, such as ligaments and fascia, to maintain the position and integrity of the bladder, uterus, and rectum.
  2. Urinary Control: The pelvic floor muscles play a crucial role in maintaining urinary continence. They help close off the urethra, the tube through which urine passes out of the body. Strong and coordinated pelvic floor muscles prevent involuntary urine leakages, such as during coughing, sneezing, or physical activity.
  3. Bowel Control: The pelvic floor muscles contribute to bowel control by regulating the opening and closing of the anus. A well-functioning pelvic floor prevents involuntary bowel leakage or fecal incontinence.
  4. Sexual Function: Healthy pelvic floor muscles are essential for sexual satisfaction. These muscles aid in arousal, sensation, and orgasm. They also provide support to the vaginal canal during intercourse.
  5. Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Weak pelvic floor muscles can contribute to pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which the pelvic organs descend from their normal position and bulge into the vaginal canal. Pelvic floor exercises can help prevent or manage this condition.

Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises

  1. Kegel Exercises: Kegels are the most well-known and effective exercises for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. To perform a kegel exercise, contract the muscles used to stop the flow of urine midstream, hold for a few seconds, and then release. Repeat this exercise multiple times a day, gradually increasing the duration of the contractions.
  2. Bridge Pose: Lie on your back with your knees curved and feet flat on the floor. Lift your hips off the ground, engaging the glutes and pelvic floor muscles. Hold for a few seconds, and then lower your hips back down. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times.
  3. Squats: Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Lower your body into a squatting position while engaging the pelvic floor muscles. Keep your back straight and chest lifted. Return to the starting position and repeat for 10-15 repetitions.
  4. Pelvic Floor Massage: Massaging the pelvic floor muscles can support, relieve tension and enhance blood flow to the area. You can use a softball or your fingertips to apply gentle pressure to different areas of the pelvic floor.

The female pelvic floor muscles are an intricate and indispensable part of a woman’s body, supporting vital functions and ensuring overall well-being. Understanding the anatomy and function of these muscles is crucial for women to recognize and address any potential issues. By incorporating pelvic floor exercises into their routine and adopting a healthy lifestyle, women can maintain the strength and integrity of their pelvic floor muscles, preventing or alleviating common problems such as pelvic organ prolapse and incontinence. Remember, caring for the pelvic floor is an investment in a healthier, more empowered future for women everywhere.

Here we discuss this with Dr. Swathi Reddy, a physiotherapist, to get her thoughts on this topic.

NourishDoc: What is pelvic floor physical therapy, and why is it important?

Pelvic floor and its location

Physiotherapist Dr. Reddy: People think pelvic muscles are somewhere around in our body, like other muscles, but for women, especially, these pelvic floor muscles play an important role, especially regarding the reproductive age and post that. If you want to understand what these are and where they’re located. Simply sit back and let me know when you sit back and relax. Or when you’re in urgency to urinate, and you’re trying to control it, you’re pulling back a few muscles up right from your bottom you’re trying to pull back a few muscles up to control that urination.

Those are the pelvic floor muscles which kind of support your, you know, your reproductive system to say like you know, uterus, your rectal and vaginal area like urethral area basically from where you pass the urine that That opening is also supported with this pelvic floor muscles. That’s how you control, like you know, the passage of urine, and even the opening of the uterus, you know, the uterus is where you carry your baby when you can see, and the continuation of the uterus is your vagina opening right so this vagina is also surrounded these pelvic floor muscles. So this is how it holds. 

So you have this urethral opening, this vaginal opening, and this rectal opening. Three openings will be there, so it backs and holds it up. So many things are there, after which an end-stage comes to us. As you know, this is happening, and the Doctor advised us to meet you to see what we do. 

Pelvic floor dysfunction

When it comes to this pelvic floor dysfunction or pelvic floor weakness, either your pelvic floor muscles are stretched or your pelvic floor muscles are too tight. There are women in case you’re having any sexual issues, also pain during your sex, or pain after your sex or intercourse. So even this is one of the reasons why your pelvic floor muscles are not in good strength. You will have this kind of issue. The second thing is if you are a person who says I’m not able to control urine, or when I laugh or cough, there is a leakage of urine. Got it laughing, coughing, and sneezing, which many postnatal mothers complain about. This is a major complaint by postnatal mothers. And the other complaint is like, I feel like my uterus is falling off. I feel there is a complete heaviness in my bottom. They lack the strength, so they’re not able to support the audience they are supporting. They’re kind of sagging down. 

Hernia and pelvic floor strengthening

There is a word called a hernia. Hernia is the organ is a little kind of display in its original position. So if these pelvic floor muscles are weak, this is one of the things which can happen. During pregnancy, she’ll end up with a lot of pelvic floor pain, a lot of heaviness down, she can’t walk, and she finds it more difficult to control her urination. Somehow she finishes her pregnancy, but post-delivery.

Controlling urination won’t be there. If you ask me why, as I said, during the pregnancy, if these muscles are getting too weak, after the delivery, post-delivery, after one point, there is no control, you will note that because the weakness is so bad that you will not be able to control the urination, you, you don’t even have an idea that you kind of leaking that happens with rare. 

But yes, if you’re not caring for your pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy, you can end up with that. There can be a tear in the muscle during vaginal delivery. If the tear is there, and the rehabilitation means where you know, after a while, once the stitches are dissolved, you have to start back with strengthening exercises focusing on two pelvic floor muscles. If you’re not doing that, you will end up with issues and controlling urination, controlling your like, you know, stools, and not only that, your uterus starts sagging. Pelvic floor muscles are also part of your body, even if they get affected. 

So before we train you with all the strengthening of muscles around your uterus, so your recovery will be faster, you will not have any problem with UTIs even if your muscles are weak; if your vaginal opening is not properly secured, you will end up having a lot of infections inside. I hope everyone knows that a tailbone is right at the end of your spine, but as you know, spinal vertebrae are the end of your bone. We can help you out with the treatment where a deep massage is done. And then also applying the icepack like a calming effect while trying to help you with minimal stretches and strengthening, which relaxes your muscles. Okay, deep perineal massage, we call it, which will be done in that case to relax your muscles. 

Kegel exercise

For all the women out there, it doesn’t matter what your age is and what it is, especially from the reproductive age, one thing that everyone can do simply easily in their place is the Kegel exercise; it is the name given to the exercise only for the pelvic floor. There’s a simple way to do it; as you know, you can sit on a chair with the proper back relaxed and straight, putting your legs down, and the foot should be flat on the floor. If you’re a person who is lying down, now, you can lie on your back, bend your knees, and then relax your back completely. Now, try to pull the muscles down inside you as if you’re trying to control the passage of urine.

Imagine you’re passing urine you’re trying to pull it in; you have to pull your vaginal muscles in focus should be overweight channels, a lot of people what they do is they pull in the Abs, and they don’t pull the pelvic floor muscles, right, pull the muscles inside hold in there for 54321 and slowly relaxed. So like this, you need to do when your bladder is empty. First thing you should never do when your bladder is full. Second thing, this is just the beginning. So as a progression of exercise, we also do it in this way, you pull the muscles in, holding for three seconds, pull it in a little more, holding for three seconds, pull it to a more extent holding for three seconds, and slowly as you exert Mark. Relax them completely.

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