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What is Your Pelvic Floor and Why It Matters

By Jordon McIlvain, PT DPT - Certified Pelvic Floor Therapist

Your pelvic floor might not be something you think about often, but it plays a crucial role in your overall health and well-being. In this blog post, we will explore what the pelvic floor is, its anatomy, functions, and why it's essential to understand and maintain its health. Both males and females have a pelvic floor.

The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, ligaments, and connective tissues that form a hammock-like structure at the base of your pelvis. It serves as a support system for various organs, including the bladder, uterus (in females), and rectum. These muscles create a strong foundation, helping to maintain the stability of your pelvic organs.

To better understand the pelvic floor, let's break down its anatomy:

1. Muscles: The pelvic floor muscles are divided into three layers - superficial, intermediate, and deep. These muscles provide support and help control the openings of the urethra, vagina (in females), and rectum.

2. Ligaments and Connective Tissues: The muscles are interconnected by ligaments and connective tissues, creating a network that stabilizes the pelvic organs.

The pelvic floor performs several vital functions:

1. Support: It supports the pelvic organs, preventing them from descending or prolapsing into the vaginal or rectal areas.

2. Continence: The pelvic floor muscles play a significant role in controlling the release of urine and feces, allowing you to maintain urinary and bowel continence.

3. Sexual Function: They contribute to sexual function by aiding in sexual arousal and orgasm.

4. Posture and Movement: These muscles are essential for maintaining proper posture and helping with stability during activities like walking and standing.

Maintaining a healthy pelvic floor is essential for several reasons:

1. Preventing Pelvic Organ Prolapse: Weak or uncoordinated pelvic floor muscles can lead to pelvic organ prolapse, where the bladder, uterus, or rectum descend into the vaginal or rectal cavity.

2. Urinary and Bowel Health: Strong and coordinated pelvic floor muscles help prevent urinary and fecal incontinence, which can be embarrassing and impact your quality of life.

3. Sexual Satisfaction: A well-functioning pelvic floor can contribute to sexual satisfaction by increasing blood flow and sensitivity in the genital area.

4. Pregnancy and Postpartum Health: A healthy pelvic floor is vital during pregnancy, delivery, and postpartum to support the growing uterus and facilitate childbirth. After childbirth, exercises can help with muscle recovery.

Your pelvic floor is a vital yet often overlooked part of your body. Understanding its anatomy and functions, and then taking steps to maintain its health is essential for overall well-being. By incorporating pelvic floor exercises and adopting a healthy lifestyle, you can ensure the proper functioning of these muscles and enjoy a higher quality of life. Don't underestimate the significance of your pelvic floor – it's a key player in your overall health. Seek out a professional pelvic floor physical therapist if you're having symptoms of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction, because the answer is never "just do kegels". Pelvic floor exercises and health are far more complex and kegels, and a professional will help you figure out where to get started.

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