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Pelvic floor importance2016-01-09T08:09:06+00:00

Pelvic Floor

The Pelvic Floor – Why is It Important?

by Dr. Alison Gault

pelvic floor


Now ladies, if you are a woman of childbearing age, even if you are not planning to have children for ages you should be doing pelvic exercises or else you could suffer from pelvic girdle pain.


I explain what the pelvic floor is, what it does, why it is so important and what happens if it gets weak!


The pelvic floor is a muscular sling between the 3 bones that make up the pelvis.  There are 4 layers of muscle that make up the pelvic floor.
• the anal sphincter which controls faecal continence.
• the superficial perineal muscles which are involved in sexual excitement.
• the urogenital diaphragm controlling urinary continence.
• The final level is the stronger muscles that are involved in supporting the organs of the pelvis and compressing the urethra and rectum for continence.[row style=”divided”][col span=”1/2″]

Function of the pelvic floor


• Urinary and faecal continence
• Support of pelvic organs
• Sexual arousal


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Symptoms of weakness include:


• stress incontinence
• urgency incontinence
• prolapse of the uterus, bladder or bowel
• pelvic pain
• inability to empty bladder fully
• painful intercourse



The two main types of bladder incontinence

Stress incontinence

is the leaking of small amounts of urine with increased abdominal pressure such as sneezing, coughing, exercising, lifting or laughing.  Increased abdominal pressure increases the pressure on the bladder which then forces the urethra open causing a loss of urine from the bladder.

Urge incontinence:

consists of a sudden and urgent desire to urinate and the inability to hold the urine until a toilet is reached.  Urge incontinence is usually caused by the bladder muscle instability due to poor toilet habits.

You should go and visit your doctor if you are experiencing any of these problems:

1. Any involuntary leakage of urine so both stress and urge incontinence.
2. Passing small amounts of urine frequently and consistently, e.g. more than eight times per day in small amounts of less than 200 mls (about the contents of a tea cup).
3. Having to get up several times overnight to pass urine.
4. Difficulty getting your stream of urine started or a stream that stops and starts instead of flowing out smoothly.
5. The need for straining to pass urine.
6. A sense that the bladder is not empty once urine has been passed.
7. A feeling of burning or discomfort while passing urine.
8. If you are always thirsty and have to urinate frequently. (You could be suffering from diabetes.)
9. Any change in your regular bladder pattern that is causing you concern.

So what are the causes of a weak pelvic floor?

•  Pregnancy and childbirth are the most common causes
• continual straining to empty your bowels (constipation);
• persistent heavy lifting;
• a chronic cough (such as smoker’s cough or chronic bronchitis and asthma);
• being overweight which puts extra stress on the muscle
• changes in hormone levels at menopause
• lack of general fitness.
• Neurological diseases such as stroke, MS and Parkinson’s.

Want to know more?
Tips to improve incontinence and instructions for how to perform pelvic floor exercises.

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