The pelvic floor is an understated group of muscles and ligaments that play an enormous role in your everyday life.

Tucked away in the pelvis, this complex network plays a crucial role in supporting vital organs, maintaining continence and facility sexual function – Yet many women remain unaware of the importance of pelvic floor health until issues arise.

From pregnancy and childbirth to ageing, there are a wide range of factors that can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction. However, the good news is that proactive steps can be taken to improve pelvic floor health and mitigate potential complications.

In this blog post, we'll delve deeper into the role and functions of the pelvic floor, the factors that contribute to its weakening and, most importantly, what you can do to strengthen and improve its health.


What does the pelvic floor do?

The word ‘floor' might suggest that the pelvic floor is a single, unmoving structure. In reality, your pelvic floor is more like an orchestra of interconnecting and interlinking muscles, with a wide range of tasks to keep you functioning at your best.

  • Stabilising your Organs – Your pelvic floor acts as a strong sling that cradles your bladder, uterus, and rectum. Strong pelvic floor muscles act like a well-trained team, ensuring these organs stay in their proper positions within your body. This prevents a condition called prolapse, where these organs can weaken and potentially drop down.
  • Controlling your continence -- Picture your pelvic floor muscles as the ultimate traffic control system for your bladder and bowels. When these muscles are strong, they act like a firm "red light," allowing you to control urination and bowel movements.
  • Enhancing Sexual Satisfaction - The role of the pelvic floor in sexual health is often overlooked. These muscles play a crucial role in both blood flow and muscle contractions during sexual arousal. Strong pelvic floor muscles can lead to heightened sexual pleasure, improved orgasms, and a more fulfilling intimate experience.
  • Connecting with your Core - Your pelvic floor doesn't operate in isolation. It works in tandem with your core muscles, forming a strong foundation for your entire body. Strong pelvic floor muscles contribute to good posture, back health, and overall core stability. This translates to better balance, improved athletic performance, and a reduction in lower back pain.

What can impair the pelvic floor?

Given that they have so many jobs to do, it's not surprising that life can take its toll on the pelvic floor. Several risk factors can weaken them, making it crucial to be aware of the risks. Some of the key threats include:

  • Pregnancy and Childbirth – Pregnancy puts a strain on your pelvic floor muscles as your baby grows. Vaginal delivery, in particular, can stretch and weaken these muscles.
  • The March of Time – The body's entire musculature loses strength and elasticity with age, and the pelvic floor is no exception. This can lead to a decline in pelvic floor function.
  • Chronic Straining – Activities that involve chronic straining, like heavy lifting with improper form, persistent coughing, or constipation, can put undue stress on your pelvic floor.
  • Medical Conditions – Certain medical conditions like endometriosis or connective tissue disorders can affect the strength and function of your pelvic floor muscles.

No matter who you are or your lifestyle, your pelvic floor function will be impacted by at least one of the above risk factors.


So, what can you do to improve your pelvic floor health?

1 – Master the Kegel

Kegel exercises are the foundation of a strong pelvic floor. Essentially, they are targeted squeezes that engage and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles - translating into improved pelvic floor function.

Simply picture yourself stopping the flow of urine midstream for a few moments, and then completely relax – That's the basic Kegel sensation.

A good starting point is 10-15 repetitions, repeated in 3 sets throughout the day.
Like anything, consistency is key to seeing results. Treat Kegels like brushing your teeth, turning them into a part of your daily routine.

A single set of Kegels shouldn't take longer than 1-2 minutes to complete. Try incorporating them into your routine by multitasking, like doing a set while you watch TV or wait for a kettle to boil.

It's a small lifestyle change that plays big dividends in the long run. Even minute improvements to pelvic floor health will mean major benefits for bladder control, sexual function and overall wellbeing.


2 – Make a few lifestyle changes

Kegels are a fantastic foundation for pelvic floor health, but they're not the only piece of the puzzle. Here are some simple lifestyle modifications that can significantly boost your pelvic floor's well-being:

Weight Management – Carrying excess weight puts a strain on your entire body, including your pelvic floor. Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise reduces this pressure, allowing your pelvic floor muscles to function optimally.

Dietary Habits - What you eat can significantly impact your pelvic floor health. A balanced diet rich in constipation-preventing fibre is essential, with constipation being a major contributor to pelvic floor strain.

Stay Hydrated - Drinking plenty of fluids throughout the day is crucial for overall health, and your pelvic floor is no exception.  Not only does proper hydration keep your pelvic floor tissues healthy and prevent constipation, but dehydration causes your body to draw fluids from wherever it can – including the lining to your bladder and rectum. This can lead to constipation and make it harder for your pelvic floor muscles to function effectively.

By incorporating these simple lifestyle modifications into your routine, you can create a foundation for a strong and healthy pelvic floor.

Remember, consistency is key! The more you prioritise these healthy habits, the more your pelvic floor will thank you with improved continence, sexual function, and overall well-being.