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What is the pelvic floor anyway?

Exposing your private parts

There are many things in our world that make people uncomfortable that we generally do not discuss in polite company or public spaces. Our pelvic floor seems to be one of them...but it shouldn't be.

The biggest problem with keeping our private parts so private is that when something goes wrong "down there", no one seems to know what to do or where to even go for help.

Pelvic floor keeps everything where it should be.

Imagine, a box...

To understand where the pelvic floor is, it is best to think about your body's trunk as a box.

Your breathing diaphragm is at the top of the box. It can easily open and close as it helps your body to draw in the air that you breathe.

Your back muscles and spine are strong and sturdy and make up one of the sides of the box. Other muscles, your obliques and abdominal muscles create the other 3 sides.

A box isn't very useful if it only has a top and 3 sides, is it? In fact, one of the most important parts of the box is the bottom, or the floor. The group of muscles and connective tissue that is commonly referred to as the pelvic floor is found at the bottom of your body's box, inside your pelvic bones.

“Your pelvic floor muscles are like the bottom of a box. If they are doing their job everything stays inside....if not, you can expect a big mess.”

What do pelvic floor muscles do?

In a word...everything! Your pelvic floor muscles are not only responsible for supporting all of your internal organs, they are also responsible for bowel elimination and urination as well as sexual function in both men and women.

These muscles contract and relax like most other muscles in your body. They also have arteries and veins that supply amply blood to make sure they are working properly. Nerves control the action and sensation experienced by pelvic floor muscles.

When everything is normal, we don't think about our pelvic floor and it can stay hidden in the private parts. However, if something goes awry, then it will be difficult for you to sit, stand, walk, exercise, or sometimes even lie down comfortably.

Take care of your private parts.

Since your pelvic floor is foundational to your ability to enjoy your life, taking care of it should be a priority.

Although it can be difficult to know how strong your pelvic floor muscles are, here are a few warning signs that you may need to seek help:

  • You leak urine when you laugh, cough or sneeze.

  • You experience pain with sex (male or female).

  • You have chronic back or hip pain that doesn't seem to ever go away.

  • You are unable to maintain an erection.

  • You feel as though something is falling out or just very uncomfortable.

These are only a few signs that the muscles in your pelvis are not doing their job properly.

Don't wait to get help

Where should you go first? While you can certainly seek out the help of your primary care doctor or even other specialists, it is also critical that a pelvic floor physical therapist is part of your team as they are highly skilled at getting your muscles to work again.

Even though talking about such sensitive issues with anyone may seem intimidating, there is no need for you to keep suffering with problems when there are many people who can, and who actually want to, help you.

For much more information about pelvic floor health, follow Athena Pelvic Therapy on social media.

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