Pelvic floor dysfunction isn’t anything to be embarrassed or ashamed about. In fact, about one in three women experience this at some point in their life. It’s more common than you might think!
Your pelvic floor can become weak through pregnancy, due to excess weight, or from menopause. This can also occur due to traumatic injury or overuse, such as going to the bathroom too often. Yet, why is the pelvic floor so important? Should you be concerned about a weak pelvic floor? What should you know? In this article, we’re going to dive into the importance of the pelvic floor, signs of a weak pelvic floor, and how physiotherapy can help.
The Importance of the Pelvic Floor
Let’s start with the basics. What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and connective tissues located between your pubic bone and tailbone. These structures support your bowels, bladder, and uterus, preventing prolapse and incontinence.
The pelvic floor allows you to control when you urinate or perform a bowel movement, only emptying when it is convenient for you. It also keeps your reproductive organs in place, aiding in childbirth and sexual function.
As we age, collagen naturally declines in the body. This doesn’t just become a problem due to fine lines and wrinkles. A decline in collagen can also take away strength and rigidity of the pelvic floor, which can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction or a weakened pelvic floor.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is basically when the pelvic floor isn’t doing the job it’s supposed to. So, let’s take a look at some of the most common signs and symptoms.
What Are the Signs of a Weak Pelvic Floor?
Maybe you’re wondering, “How do I know if I need pelvic floor therapy?” If you’ve got the following signs, you might want to consider it.
- Urine leaks when you cough, sneeze, laugh, or run.
- You’ve had “accidents” where you’ve failed to get to the toilet in time.
- Tampons that fall out.
- Feelings of heaviness in the vagina.
- Recurring urinary tract infections or thrush.
- Pain with sex.
- Inability to orgasm.
If you have any of the above signs and symptoms, it’s important to get them checked out. Complications of a weak pelvic floor may lead to loss of bladder control, anal incontinence, reduced vaginal sensation, and prolapse of the bladder or uterus.
How Do I Activate My Pelvic Floor?
Potentially unsurprisingly, a lot of people don’t know how to activate their pelvic floor. Generally, you want the muscles in your bladder, vagina, and anus to tighten. A good way to test this is by placing two fingers in the vagina and practicing tightening around them. Another way to do this is by imagining you’re sitting on a marble and you want to pick up the marble. Tighten the muscles you would to do this. When you contract your pelvic floor, aim to hold this contraction for 3-5 seconds to start, gradually building up to a 5-10 second hold.
Alternatively, you can consult with a pelvic floor physiotherapist to understand more clearly what is going on, as well as how to properly perform pelvic floor exercises.
Pelvic Floor Therapy: How Long Does It Take to Strengthen My Pelvic Floor?
Usually, individuals notice improvements in their pelvic floor strength within four to six weeks. Yet, it may take a few months to see major improvements. Additionally, you’ll want to perform the exercises your physiotherapist prescribes regularly after improvements have been made to maintain the strength and integrity of the pelvic floor.
At Corydon Physiotherapy, we can help you get on track with your pelvic floor health. Whether you’ve recently had a baby or you’ve noticed symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, we are here to support you, guiding you toward better health and a better quality of life. Book your appointment with our experienced team today.