What are pelvic floor muscles
Now in our introduction to vaginal weights, we talked a lot about the pubococcygeus or pelvic floor muscles. But we didn’t explain exactly what’s going on down there. The pelvic floor muscles are a very important part of your trunk, or core muscle group. Taking good care of these plays a big part in your general health. But before you start trying to look after your muscles, lets explain exactly what they are, and what they do.
A hammock for the organs
As mentioned in our vaginal weights piece, the pelvic floor muscles essentially form a hammock or sling across the bottom of the torso. This sling holds all of your important lower organs in place. These include: The vagina (for women), the bladder, rectum, and lower parts of the colon and intestine. The muscles form a kind of figure 8 around your vagina, urethra, and anus. These muscles directly control both your urine and excrement, clenching up to stop the flow, and loosening to allow things to exit your body. When you feel like you really need a toilet, and everything is clenched up down there to stop you from urinating, that’s your pelvic floor muscles doing their work. These muscles also play a large part in sexual intercourse. When a woman’s pelvic floor muscles loosen it allows things to enter both the vagina and the anus. In men, the pelvic floor assists with both keeping a strong erection and with ejaculation.
While you don’t often hear people talking about the pelvic floor muscles when they are discussing areas of the body to work out and keep healthy, they are actually a very important area that you want to take as much care of as you can. Your pelvic floor can not only end up too saggy, but also too tight, and both ends of this spectrum can lead to some quite irritating health issues, as well as simple comfort and confidence issues.
If your pelvic floor is too tight…
Physically, it’s an extremely rare situation for a woman’s vagina to be too tight. What is more likely is that the pelvic floor muscles have become too tight and inflexible. This is called hypertonic muscles. A hypertonic pelvic floor is never a very good thing, and can leads to all kinds of health issues including:
- Difficulty and pain passing urine, stopping and starting of the flow of urine, suddenly feeling the need to urinate.
- Constipation, difficulty passing stools due to the tightness of the muscles around the anus
- Pain in the lower trunk area including the back, abdomen, sides pelvic, and genital areas.
- Pain during intercourse or difficulty even engaging in intercourse, in some cases vaginismus.
- Premature ejaculation
While you’ll find a lot more information on tightening and rejuvenating your pelvic floor muscles online, tightness of the pelvic floor muscles is just as manageable. It requires the same amount of effort and work as tightening a loose pelvic floor, but with the right regime of exercises you can be back to full health before you know it.
If your pelvic floor is too loose…
A loose pelvic floor and worries about a loose vagina tends to be the main reason people begin to research these muscles and start working to regularly exercise them. Unlike tight (hypertonic) pelvic floor muscles, these are called hypotonic muscles. It sounds very similar but the advice to fix it is massively different so before you begin tightening your pelvic floor though, you should be sure that it’s actually loose in the first place.
Some effects of a loose pelvic floor include:
- Incontinence where small amounts of urine may leak out throughout the day, when coughing, or when sneezing
- Diminished enjoyment of sexual intercourse, difficulty reaching orgasm
- Sagging of the lower internal organs (bladder, intestines, rectum) into the vaginal cavity
- Vaginal prolapse in women, or anal prolapse in men
If you are suffering from one or more of these symptoms and most likely need to begin a pelvic floor strengthening regime to begin to return the muscles back to their original state. There are a range of different exercises and tools that can help regain pelvic floor strength, so keep reading through our articles to learn more.
It’s not always that simple. Loose AND tight pelvic floors…
Now in some rare cases, you could actually be suffering from both kinds of pelvic floor imbalances at the same time. This is sometimes accompanied by trigger points in the muscles itself, which are specific points of muscle that are very irritable and can cause large amounts of pain or irritation when pressed or touched. In this rare situation, performing tightening exercises will help with the loose parts of your pelvic floor, but further exacerbate the tighter areas of your pelvic floor. Conversely performing loosening exercises will help the tighter areas of your pelvic floor, but exacerbate the looser areas.
This is one of the times that it is in your best interest to leave it entirely to the professionals. Seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist will allow them to develop a program tailored entirely to you. Usually they will start by eliminating the trigger points in your muscles, so that the pain is lessened. Then they will work on the tighter areas, trying to bring the entire muscle group back into balance. When everything is relaxed and loosened up, they will work with you on rebuilding your pelvic floor strength. It can be a long and challenging process, but it is definitely worth it.
Benefits of a strong and healthy pelvic floor…
There’s been a lot of doom and gloom so far, so I thought I’d also lay out some of the positives you can experience by properly taking care of your pelvic floor. This isn’t just for the ladies, men can also experience a lot of benefits from taking care of their pelvic floor too!
- Incontinence problems controlled.
- Tighter, firmer vagina.
- Stronger Orgasms.
- Better sex life.
- More confidence.
- Incontinence problems controlled.
- Stronger erections.
- Stronger ejaculations.
- Stronger orgasms.
- Potential for multiple orgasms.
So how do I know if my pelvic floor needs work?
Ultimately most people will need some kind of regime to maintain their pelvic floor health. Much like other parts of your body such as your legs or arms, just because you aren’t experiencing any problems, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be exercising them. If you aren’t experiencing and issues with your pelvic floor, it is important to be doing a balanced workout, both strengthening and relaxing your pelvic floor to ensure that you don’t tip the balance too far in one direction or the other. Doctors recommend that a pelvic floor regime using Kegel exercises becomes a part of your daily routine throughout your life. Getting started sooner rather than later can make a big difference as simply just getting older can begin to give you issues with your pelvic floor. On top of that, things like prostate operations, childbirth and labour, C-sections, large sex toys, and many other things can all affect the strength of your pelvic floor. As mentioned above the one time to be careful with your exercises is if your pelvic floor muscles are already too tight, which present a different set of problems and need the help of a doctor to work through and loosen.