Your pelvic floor muscles are important to your everyday bodily functions. But if these muscles are weak, you’ll find problems with urination, among other things. Having a strong pelvic floor makes sex more pleasurable, too. Here’s what to know and how to strengthen your pelvic floor.
What is a pelvic floor?
A pelvic floor is a group of muscles at the base of your pelvis. The pelvis houses essential organs like the bladder, uterus and rectum and the pelvic floor holds them together. These muscles create support for your organs by wrapping around the pelvic bone. They also control the contractions and relaxation when you poo, pee and have sex. Pelvic floor muscles can become weaker when you’re doing lots of exercises, heavy weightlifting, after childbirth and with age.
Why is a strong pelvic floor necessary?
The muscles around your pelvis help control functions like releasing urine. If your muscles clench when peeing (instead of relaxing), you likely have pelvic floor dysfunction.
A strong pelvic floor makes sex more pleasurable and prevents urinary incontinence, which is when urine leaks from the bladder when you’re not at the toilet. The burden of urinary incontinence in South Africa is huge, at 21%. Doing pelvic floor exercises can strengthen a weak pelvic floor and is essential to a healthy pelvic region.
How do you know if your pelvic floor is weak?
With a weak pelvic floor, you might have urine leaking when you sneeze, run or cough, or have to strain too hard during bowel movements. Signs of pelvic dysfunction is different to a weak pelvic floor. Pelvic floor dysfunction occurs when your pelvic floor is unable to properly coordinate to create your bowel movements. You might have painful urination, have a sore lower back and feel pain in your pelvic region with or without using the toilet. You might also experience painful sex.
How do you strengthen your pelvic floor?
To strengthen your pelvic floor, you should do pelvic floor exercises, also known as kegel exercises.
Imagine that you’re trying to stop the flow of urine mid-flow and clench your kegel muscles. If this is difficult to do, try to insert a finger into your vagina and try and clench the muscles around your finger. It’s important to not hold your breath while doing this.
You can also use a kegel trainer device or Yoni eggs, which are inserted into the vagina. The idea is to hold the eggs inside the vagina by clenching your muscles. Squeeze 10 to 15 times, relaxing in-between sets.
If you need assistance, you can always consult a doctor using the Zoie app.