Most of us, at one point or another, have heard someone talking about pelvic floor muscles or Kegels. However, not all of us have paid attention to it, nor really know where these muscles are located and what their purpose is.
Your pelvic floor muscles are located, as the name suggests, in your pelvis. They stretch from the front of your pubic bone to your tailbone. These muscles support a woman's bladder, uterus, bowel, urethra (urine tube), vagina, and even the anus. It is important to note that these muscles are present in both men and women and should be equally trained by both genders.
As you can probably gather by now, it's a pretty important group of muscles and the stronger they are, the more control you have over your bladder, bowels, and sexual functions. With nearly 24% of women in the United States affected by one or more pelvic floor disorders, it’s important to know more about this group of muscles.
Common reasons for a weakening in the pelvic floor muscles
The most common cause for weak pelvic floor muscles is childbirth, as your muscles expand and it can be difficult to get them back into shape. Additionally, they naturally weaken with age, as do most muscles, in both men and women.
However, there are other reasons to keep in mind that can cause weakening in the pelvic floor muscles:
- Heavy lifting
- Long-term coughing
- Being overweight
- Not staying active
- Prostate gland surgery (for men)
Benefits of having strong pelvic floor muscles
For your Sex life
While your vagina won't actually be tightened through pelvic floor muscle training, the toning and strengthening of your muscles will not only boost your arousal but also increase the contractions felt during climax.
Having strong pelvic floor muscles for pregnancy and childbirth is important because they are what will support your child while they’re growing inside you. These muscles help your body cope with the weight of the baby and allow for a smoother delivery.
After your child has been born, the muscles need to regain their old form to avoid incontinence.
To avoid incontinence
One in three women leak at some point in their life. Incontinence is not an uncommon problem seen amongst women, yet it is not often talked about due to shame felt by anyone who has this issue.
This leakage can occur not only when you sneeze, cough, or laugh, but also in cases where you may or may not need to go to the bathroom but cannot seem to hold it. While many believe that this only occurs to people once they have hit a mature age, urinary incontinence can also affect younger people.
To avoid urinary retention
As opposed to incontinence, urinary retention is when the bladder cannot fully empty its contents. You might have this issue if you find yourself going to the bathroom multiple times a day, feeling the need to urinate but then nothing comes out. One reason for urinary retention may be that weak pelvic floor muscles cause the bladder to sag or move out of position.
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic Organ Prolapse is the dropping of the pelvic organs caused by the loss of normal support of the vagina [or rectum]. This can cause lower back pain, bleeding, or discharge, as well as pressure in the vagina and pain during intercourse. By strengthening these muscles, you can alleviate some of the pain and symptoms that come with the prolapse.
For better bowel control
As we mentioned earlier, the pelvic floor muscle group stretches from your pubic bone all the way to your anus. Therefore, by having that group of muscles strong, you can avoid any bowel incontinence and have control over your bowel movements.
To make sure you have the right tools at your disposal for strong pelvic floor muscles, we have provided you with some exercises to help train your muscles and avoid any leakage.
Adding squats to your weekly workout routine is a great and easy three-in-one workout. Not only are your glutes and legs getting a killer workout, but your pelvic floor gets stronger, too. Make sure you do your squats properly to avoid any bodily injuries.
Another great addition to your workout routine is the bridge. It’s a simple—yet effective—exercise that targets your glutes and, when it’s executed correctly, it activates your pelvic floor muscles.
This exercise can be done with or without weights. We recommend starting off without weights and gradually building on it with a stability ball or exercise band.
Kegels are known as the best way to strengthen those muscles, as they specifically target them.
If you are having trouble identifying the muscles, try stopping your urine mid-stream the next time you head to the bathroom. The muscles you feel activated there are your pelvic floor muscles.
Now that you know how it feels to tighten and loosen those muscles, you can do Kegel exercises anytime, anywhere. No one needs to know that you are doing this, but once you have found those muscles, strengthening them is easy.
It is recommended to do a set of 10 Kegels, between two and three times a day to see quicker results. Again, this is something you can do without equipment or anybody knowing.
Are you experiencing any leakage or pain?
Contact one of our providers and make an appointment if you are having any issues with your bladder, bowels, or if you are experiencing any abnormal pain during intercourse. For more information on how to train your pelvic floor muscles, schedule an appointment today.