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What Is the Pelvic Floor?

The pelvic floor is a network of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue and nerves that acts like a hammock to keep the organs in the nether regions of the body (anus, bladder, uterus, urethra, and vagina) in place and working properly.

Common Pelvic Floor Disorders

Pelvic Organ Prolapse – A condition where one of the organs falls out of place due to weakened pelvic muscles. For some women, this can occur during pregnancy or childbirth.  Additionally, as women age, estrogen levels drop which can increase the risk of prolapse.  

Urinary Incontinence – When the bladder falls out of place due to weakened or damaged pelvic floor muscles, it can cause bladder control issues, urgency, frequency, leakage, and painful urination. The three types of urinary incontinence include stress incontinence (ex. Sudden bladder leakage after sneezing/coughing, lifting something heavy), urgency incontinence (inability to urinate after a strong urge to go), and dysuria (painful urination).

Bowel Incontinence – When the sphincter muscles or rectum becomes weakened or damaged, it can cause bowel control issues such as diarrhea and constipation.  

General pelvic floor issues – pain during sex, pain in the lower back and legs

Risk Factors for Pelvic Floor Issues

  • Neurological damage
  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Excess weight and obesity
  • Hormone imbalance
  • Excessive heavy lifting/strength training
  • Genetics  

Exercises for Pelvic Floor Disorders

  • Kegels – Practice stopping your urination mid-stream.  This activates and strengthens the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Exercises such as squats and bridges also help to engage the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Avoid repetitive heavy lifting or activities that put strain in that area

References

https://columbiasurgery.org/colorectal/pelvic-floor-disorders-frequently-asked-questions

https://www.bcm.edu/research/labs-and-centers/research-centers/center-for-research-on-women-with-disabilities/a-to-z-directory/pelvic-health/pelvic-floor-disorders/types-of-pelvic-floor-disorders

https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/pelvicfloor/conditioninfo

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