Pelvic floor muscles

The pelvic floor muscles are a group of muscles which sit at the base of the pelvis.

These muscles have a role in:

Most people do not give their pelvic floor muscles a second thought unless their function becomes affected.

Signs that the pelvic floor muscles may not be working optimally are:

People may notice changes in their pelvic floor muscle function during pregnancy, during the postnatal period, during the perimenopausal period and following menopause, as well as following gynaecological surgery, or prostate surgery

Other people who are at risk are those who:

If you are performing any types of exercise such as these, it is important to know that your pelvic floor muscles have sufficient strength and co-ordination to withstand the extra strain being put on this region.

The action of a pelvic floor muscle contraction is a squeeze and lift action around the front and back passages. Often it can be helpful to focus on the action of stopping yourself passing urine or controlling wind, or the action of lifting the testes up.

The muscles should be able to perform a sustained contraction, plus fast contractions in response to sudden increases in intra-abdominal pressure. Also important is the ability of the muscles to relax following a contraction. Possible signs of difficulties in relaxing the pelvic floor muscles may be:

Note that an individual assessment is important in determining the specific type of pelvic floor muscle problem.

If you are unsure whether you are activating your pelvic floor muscles correctly, have difficulty relaxing the muscles after a contraction, or are experiencing any of the above signs or symptoms, then consulting a continence and pelvic health physiotherapist is recommended.

This will ensure a thorough assessment of your problem and then an appropriate management program can be commenced.