Exploring Your pelvic Floor & It’s Functions

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Exploring Your pelvic Floor & It’s Functions

When people come to me they are often very confused about why their provider has referred them to physical therapy for their private bits. The pelvic floor is confusing and not talked about openly, and it can be a stressful experience to make sense of what is going on with your body.
 
When I have a new patient, I always begin by asking, “Do you know what the pelvic floor is ? Have you ever heard of it before?” The answers I’ve gotten run the spectrum from yes to no, and everything in between. I have had a number of people who think that only people with vulvas have a pelvic floor, and individuals with a phallus do not. Some people think theirs was removed when they delivered their child. I share these stories with you not to shame those individuals, but instead to demonstrate how wide-spread and common misconceptions about the pelvic floor really are.
YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
Let’s begin to demystify! First things first, EVERYONE HAS A PELVIC FLOOR! It may be oriented slightly different based on your genitalia, and this is where finding a physical therapist who is suited to your needs and your body becomes so important! Your pelvic floor is comprised of the 26 muscles that attach behind the front of your pubic bone and run like a sling or hammock back to the bottom part of your spine (the sacrum and tailbone). Your pelvic floor performs four major functions and works in conjunction with many other very important areas of your body. Your physical therapist should help you to better understand your own pelvic floor by identifying your various areas of concern, through a thorough history and physical exam. Then they will outline a comprehensive treatment plan to help you achieve your goals.
MAJOR FUNCTIONS
  • Hold your pelvic organs in place
  • Support your spine, pelvis, and hips
  • Bladder and bowel continence
  • Sexual appreciation
As mentioned, your pelvic floor can also affect the function of other major areas of your body as well: your spine, hips, diaphragm, back muscles, core and abdominal muscles. You might find it surprising that it is also important for blood and lymph fluid circulation! These 26 muscles are a busy little group, and even though they are internal, they can be treated and trained. The first thing you need to do is identify which of the muscles within the group you need to give some attention to. Find a physical therapist to help you with this identification and get you started on the journey to healing.
HELP IS OUT THERE! If you have questions or need resources, or if you think you have pelvic floor concerns, check out these videos or contact me . Through Laura Meihofer, LLC, I also offer personalized programs for my clients with any pelvic floor concerns. If you would like more information or are interested in a personalized program evaluation, please reach out to me!

DIGGING DEEPER

 

The first major function of your pelvic floor is pelvic organ support. Naturally organs tend to move towards the area of least resistance. Your stomach region creates a great deal of pressure which can push on pelvic organs. The pelvic organs include: the bladder, uterus and ovaries, vagina (if you have these), small bowel, and rectum. Therefore, if you are constantly straining during urination or bowel movements your organs move constantly towards the ground. If you hold your breath when you lift heavy objects it can cause the same issue. Without the counter effort from your pelvic floor, your organs will just head right on out of your body, and plop on the ground. I feel confident in guessing that you do not want that happening. Typically individuals will have a sense of something falling out, however, even if you do not have this sense, I would not recommend frequent straining as this can lead to a prolapse.

The second major responsibility of your pelvic floor muscles is to support your spine, pelvis, and hips. Because the pelvic floor is literally the base, or floor, of our core canister, it works to aid stability in these areas. Your core canister is the cylinder, or pillar-shape, of muscles reaching across your pelvic floor, up through and including your abdominal and back muscles, and reaching its top at your diaphragm. You can imagine how the stability of your spine, pelvis, and hips would be important to this canister. I personally feel that this is one of the most important functions that the pelvic floor performs, because it requires not sheer strength but overwhelming coordination with a multitude of other muscle groups to get the job done right. Often times, patients will be treated for hip and back pain for years with no success, and they discover that the issue the whole time was with their pelvic floor.
 
The third major job for your pelvic floor is bladder and bowel continence. Your pelvic floor has to be able to contract and relax when you want it to, so you are able to maintain continence but also empty when you choose. Many people come into me and report, “Everything is fine until I pull out my keys to open the door, and instantly it’s like, ‘Get out of my way I HAVE to pee!’” Conversely, I also hear, “No, I am not constipated! But I take all these medications everyday, and if I don’t then, well, I only go once a week…” I promise you, THAT IS NOT NORMAL! If this is your experience, I can not encourage you enough to seek out a healthcare individual about your symptoms.
 
The fourth function is definitely the one that catches attention the most. Sexual appreciation, the last major functionality, is directly affected by pelvic floor dysfunction. You read that correctly, sexual appreciation, orgasm, the big O. I can help with that! Common issues people report having in this area are any number of things: pain, a change in your arousal level, changes in strength of orgasm, difficulty getting into, or pain with certain positions, you once loved. Listen, sex isn’t all 50 shades of grey for everyone, but we can get you to a place to meet your goals and achieve your fantasies!

You may have a variety of feelings or responses to discovering this information: tears, laughter, gratitude, sometimes even anger to discover that there has been someone here who can help and you are just now getting to me. I’m just so happy that I can shed some light on this confusing and mysterious muscle group and help guide people through such a personal health journey. If you have not yet found a therapist, I recommend that you do so and educate yourself about what to expect at your first appointment . If you have any of the following conditions or the above symptoms sound familiar to you, I encourage you to bring a pelvic floor physical therapist into your life .

POSSIBLE CAUSES AND CONDITIONS

Your pelvic floor is a hidden little gem that is often left out of the conversation. It performs so many key functions and works in conjunction with other core areas of your body to perform innumerable other functions across your body. Just because it is internal doesn’t mean it can’t be exercised and even stretched just like any other muscle in your body. Your physical make up may feel like a challenge to overcome when you can’t even see it! How can you possibly figure that out?! Seek out a professional and ask questions during your appointments until you understand. Check out my YouTube channel and my site to see if there are some tips and tricks or at home tools that can offer you further at home assistance for your condition. I’ll be here for you along your journey!

Extra References

Video Playlist: New to the Pelvic Floor?

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

6 Best Vibrators for Pelvic Floor Function

Kegels: Myth or Fact

4 Can’t Beat Products for Self Treatment of Your Pelvic Floor Tension