Women focus quite a bit of attention on improving muscle tone in the arms, legs, glutes, and abs, yet many neglect an equally important but invisible area—the pelvic floor. These vital muscles sit under the uterus, bladder, and large intestine (bowel), and help with urine and bowel control. They’re also the muscles that contract during orgasm.
When the pelvic floor muscles become weakened, urine leakage and reduced control over the bowels can occur. This is why pelvic floor muscle training is so important, especially for women after childbirth.
In addition to improved bladder and bowel control, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can lead to increased sexual sensation and orgasm potential. We’ll explore this and other benefits of improved pelvic floor muscle strength ahead. First, let’s review common signs of a pelvic floor problem. Later on we’ll provide a step-by-step pelvic floor exercise guide and uncover some common myths and misconceptions surrounding the pelvic floor muscles.
Signs of a Pelvic Floor Problem
Some common signs of problems with the pelvic floor muscles include:
- Accidentally leaking urine when you laugh, cough, sneeze, jump, or run.
- Sudden feeling of urgency to get to the toilet, or not making it in time.
- Pain in your pelvic area.
- Painful sex.
- A prolapse: in women this is often felt as a feeling of discomfort, heaviness, pulling, or dropping in the vagina.
Pelvic floor problems can occur when the muscles become stretched or weakened. They can also occur when muscles are too tight. Some women have tight pelvic floor muscles from a young age and may have difficulty relaxing the muscles—these individuals should pay special attention to relaxation of the muscles as part of pelvic floor training.
Pelvic floor muscles can be affected by pregnancy and childbirth, over or under-working the muscles, chronic constipation that results in straining, being overweight, heavy lifting, and chronic coughing (from asthma or hay fever, etc.). The good news is the pelvic floor muscles can be consciously controlled, allowing you to improve their strength with exercises and assistance from devices like the PeriCoach System.