What is the pelvic floor and what is its function?

What is the pelvic floor and what is its function?

Health

The pelvic floor muscles are located between the tailbone (coccyx) and the pubic bone within the pelvis. They support the bowel and bladder (as well as the uterus and vagina in females).  

Pelvic floor muscles have two major functions:  

  1. they provide support or act as a “floor” for the abdominal viscera including the rectum and 
  2. they provide constrictor or continence mechanism to the urethral, anal, and vaginal orifices (in females) 

When does pelvic floor get affected? 

Pelvic floor is affected in conditions such as. 

  • Prolapse (when organs drop down) 
  • Diastasis recti (when the abdominal muscles separate especially during pregnancy) 
  • Incontinence (both bladder and the bowel) 
  • Constipation 

Other contributing factors include aging, injury to the area, participation in high impact sports, surgery to the pelvic area, pregnancy, and childbirth. Pelvic floor dysfunction can happen because of overactive or tight or underactive or weak pelvic muscles. 

Does pelvic floor affect only females? 

Although it is commonly believed that only females are affected with pelvic floor dysfunction, that is not true! However, females are more affected than men because of their anatomical differences and childbirth. Studies found that nearly 66% of men are unaware that males are required to do pelvic floor muscle training (Hirschhorn et al 2013). 3.3 million Canadians are affected by pelvic floor dysfunction every year! 

What is physiotherapist’s role in pelvic floor health? 

The role of physiotherapist is vital in guiding you to perform the pelvic floor exercises accurately. A study shows that clients need precise verbal cues to contract their pelvic floor muscles correctly (J Welles Henderson et al 2014). 

After taking a thorough medical history, your physiotherapist in Orleans will assess you and ask questions regarding your condition. The physiotherapist prescribes a treatment plan that includes relaxation or strengthening exercises according to your condition and lifestyle modification that propels you to reach your goal.   

How effective is pelvic floor physiotherapy? 

The evidence for pelvic floor muscle training shows largely positive results. This has proven to be to be an effective strategy for prolapse and urinary incontinence symptoms and for sexual function. Findings from a review by Dumoulin et al. (2015) suggest that pelvic floor muscle training provides better outcomes compared to a control group. The role physiotherapists play in treating pelvic floor dysfunction can be life-changing to patients! 

Originally Posted on Orleans Physiotherapy