Pelvic floor weakness

Problems with the muscles of your pelvic floor are so common that many of us accept this as normal, especially as we get older or after having a baby. However, pelvic floor problems are not inevitable and up to 80% of women suffering with issues like incontinence, prolapse or an overactive bladder can be successfully treated by a women’s health physiotherapist.

How to tell if you have a problem with your pelvic floor – signs and symptoms

The pelvic floor muscles blend together to form a hammock that runs from your tailbone to your pubic bone. They are supported by strong ligaments that help your pelvic floor muscles hold your internal organs in place and allow us to move around, walk, run and jump without unwanted urine leakage.

The most common signs that you might have a problem with your pelvic floor include:

  • The sudden need to go to the toilet and sometimes not making there in time
  • Feeling like you always need to go to the toilet and going very frequently
  • Leaking when you cough, sneeze or physically exert yourself
  • A feeling of heaviness in your vagina or rectum
  • Vaginal pain
  • Lack of sensation or pain during or after having sex

Why do pelvic floor problems develop –  causes

Having a healthy pelvic floor means that your pelvic muscles are able to work well together, tighten sufficiently and release, so you can easily control or empty the bladder and bowel at the appropriate time.

Weak, over-stretched, slow-working, tight or damaged pelvic muscles are likely to result in some of the signs and symptoms above. These conditions can develop during to pregnancy or after childbirth, if you have a job that involves heavy lifting or you take part in a type of high impact exercise or if you have chronic constipation and need to strain to empty your bowels. Menopause can also lead to problems with your pelvic floor due to the hormonal changes affecting women.

Exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor

Like any other muscle in your body, you are able to retrain your pelvic floor muscles with the right exercise programme.

Strengthening exercises may be recommended to you as part of this programme. Here’s how to find and tighten these muscles correctly. A good position to feel the pelvic floor muscles working is in high kneeling:Kneeling for pelvic floor exercises

Breathe out and imagine you are drawing a marble up your back passage to gently lift your pelvic floor and draw it upwards towards your pubic bone. You should feel a slight lift and tightening sensation. Hold for a moment and then relax as you breathe in and imagine your sitting bones melting into your heels.

Your pelvic floor muscles need to be able to tighten quickly in case you sneeze and be able to hold to allow you to get to the toilet, so it’s important to practice both ways with short, quick lifts (be sure to relax fully after each one) and long, slow holds.

For some women the strength of their pelvic floor muscles is actually okay but the inability to coordinate them to work together effectively can be a problem. So if you are still experiencing symptoms after 6-8 weeks training it is worth having a pelvic examination with a specialist women’s health physiotherapist because, like any other exercise programme, pelvic floor exercises are most effective when they are tailored specifically to the individual.

Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.

The Physiofit Team!