Dr Ahmed Ismail

Consultant Gynaecologist & Fertility Expert

Have you done your pelvic floor exercises today?

For most the answer will be no. Although most of us know we should be doing our pelvic floor exercises regularly there still appears to be a lack of information about what exactly the pelvic floor muscles are, how often we should be doing them and how this will benefit us. This enigma surrounding the pelvic floor may prevent us regularly completing these exercises and cause problems in the future.

Why Things Go Wrong

As a women’s health physiotherapist, the main pelvic floor dysfunctions I see include: stress incontinence, urgency/urge incontinence, nocturia, prolapse, perineal tears and vaginal/pelvic floor pain.
Pelvic floor dysfunction arises because of injuries, deterioration of the muscles, nerves, and/or connective tissue that support and control normal pelvic function. Some symptoms can be due to the bladder and not be part of pelvic floor dysfunction which is when a thorough assessment is needed. Researchers DeLancey and Wei report that there is no hour during a woman’s life when these pelvic floor structures are more vulnerable than during childbirth. If the ligaments and fasciae within the pelvis were subjected to a continuous stress by a great force of abdominal pressure, they would stretch and pelvic floor dysfunction could occur, examples include: pushing during labour, repeated heavy lifting and heavy pulling. Changes in hormonal levels can also cause issues; pregnancy and menopause are examples of fluctuating hormone levels cause changes to our collagen and muscle fibres that provide support to our pelvic floor. It is at this stage that an increase in pelvic floor exercises would be appropriate.

How To To a Pelvic Floor Contraction

Knowing how to contract your pelvic floor starts round by our back passage, and actually this is where the largest bulk of the pelvic floor is, this is a good starting point to perform a pelvic floor contraction. Squeeze your back passage as if trying to hold in wind, then imagine you are trying to pull your perineum upwards before finally pulling up the urethra (where you pee) as if you are trying to hold in urine. Never actually try this technique repeatedly on the toilet though as it can be confusing to your bladder.

There are two main types of pelvic floor contraction women’s health physiotherapists may get you to practice:

Short, strong quick exercises – try pulling up as strongly as you can with your pelvic floor, hold for a second and then immediately release.

The second type is slow, endurance exercises; try pulling up between 50-100% of your maximum contraction and hold for up to 10 seconds.

When To Do A Pelvic Floor Contraction

Aim to complete about 6 quick and 6 slow pelvic floor exercises several times a day. Try and give yourself triggers to remember that you do several times a day like brushing your teeth, putting the kettle on, talking on the phone, washing your hands, traffic lights, feeding baby etc. Remember that lying is the easiest position to complete a pelvic floor exercises, then increasing in difficulty, sitting, standing, squat standing, so try and vary these positions to perform your exercises.

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