The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles, ligaments and connective tissue that support organs like the bladder, rectum, vagina and uterus. These muscles attach near your tailbone and connect to your pubic bone. There are three distinct openings in the pelvic floor: the urethra, vagina and anus. These openings are encircled by special muscles that attach to nearby connective tissue. The pelvic floor muscles have many important functions like helping the bladder and rectum store contents like urine and stool. They also expand and contract during and after you deliver a baby. Strong pelvic floor muscles will reduce your risk for problems like urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Similar to other muscle groups in the body, it is important to strengthen and condition these muscles to enable the surrounding organs to function effectively.
Tips to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
Kegel Exercises: Regular Kegel exercises are useful for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. To perform Kegels practice placing your index finger at the opening of the vaginal canal. Squeeze the muscles surrounding your finger at the opening of your vaginal canal until your finger lifts upward. Kegels can be performed any time day or night and is a proven strategy to strengthen your muscles.
Weight Loss: Similar to weight-induced joint pain, being overweight has a negative impact on the functioning of your pelvic floor muscles. Obesity is associated with pelvic floor disorders like urinary leakage and pelvic organ prolapse. Weight loss relieves pressure on the pelvic bones and ligaments allowing the surrounding muscles and connective tissue to work more effectively.
Avoiding Constipation: Constipation is a common disorder experienced by many women. Constipation results in chronic straining which weaken pelvic floor muscles. Ensuring you are adequately hydrated (drinking when thirsty), consuming a diet high in fiber will prevent chronic straining that results from constipation.
Working Out: The human body works as a unit and exercising the body’s major muscle groups such as the legs, arms and hips will promote heathy functioning of all your muscles including your pelvic floor. Exercises such as Yoga, Pilates and Barre engage the core muscles and overall has a positive impact on the pelvic floor muscles.
I am board certified in Obsetrics and Gynecology (OBGYN) and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (FPMRS). I currently serve as the Medical Director of Female Pelvic Medicine for the Crozer Health Medical Group in the greater Philadelphia area. I obtained my residency training in OBGYN at the Los Angeles County+ University of Southern California Medical Center and fellowship training in FPMRS at Johns Hopkins. I am passionate about the field of Women’s Health and the treatment of pelvic floor disorders like urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.