The existence of these muscle parts is often forgotten. We do not know what they are really used for and why we should systematically exercise them. Pelvic floor muscles, the so-called Kegel muscles, should be in good shape. Not only in women, they perform many important functions. Keeping the pelvic floor healthy and fit is very important in everyday life.
Learn about the function of the pelvic floor and how to take care of it.
We talk to Monika Czubacka-Bryla, M.D., Physiotherapist who deals on a daily basis with patients with urogynecological problems, such as incontinence, pregnant and post-partum women.
Where are the pelvic floor muscles, or so-called Kegel muscles
They are easier to find than to see, so first find your pelvic floor. It covers the opening formed by the pelvic bones from below. In simple terms, the muscles of the pelvic floor, or muscle fibers, are attached to four bony points: the two ischial tuberosities (we sit on them), the pubic bone (a hard place perpendicularly under the navel), and the coccyx (tail bone). You can find your pelvic floor by placing the flat of your hand in the space marked by these points.
What are the pelvic floor muscles responsible for?
Pelvic floor muscles are responsible for maintaining the organs of the lower pelvis. When sneezing, coughing or jumping, they lower intra-abdominal pressures, reacting reflexively by closing the urethra and rectum. This is one of the mechanisms responsible for continence (that is, holding urine, stool and gas).
Together with other muscles, they stabilize the trunk and are responsible for micturition and defecation, or bowel movements. They affect sexual function. Efficient, active muscles improve the quality of intercourse, increase sexual sensation and sensation. The ability to relax and loosen these muscles is very important for women in preparation for childbirth.
Given the functions that the pelvic floor performs, we should understand the importance of prevention and care to keep it fit and healthy.
What might be of concern?
Disturbing symptoms can be easily overlooked at first. After all, they concern our everyday difficulties, such as constipation. When the pelvic floor ceases to perform its functions, however, there can be many more problems. Undoubtedly, the most troublesome is incontinence, that is, partial loss of control over the body. We speak of it when urine, stool or gas pass away uncontrollably. An example would be, such a common affliction nowadays, as urinary incontinence. Equally troublesome is the frequent feeling of pushing on the bladder, constipation, lowering of the pelvic organs, painful intercourse, lack of satisfaction from intercourse, painful menstruation.
What are the causes of pelvic floor dysfunction?
- past births,
- Collagen quality genetically inherited,
- Performing heavy physical labor,
- Inappropriate physical activity that puts stress on the pelvic floor,
- Obesity (BMI>30),
- Estrogen deficiency (poorer tissue quality),
- Unhealthy habits and lifestyles,
- prolonged cough.
What can be done to keep the pelvic floor healthy?
For the pelvic floor to be functional it should be in a balance between tension and relaxation. Do not underestimate the first signs of pelvic floor muscle dysfunction! Losing even a few drops of urine can mean that symptoms will worsen within a few years if appropriate action is not taken.
Remember the correct posture! When you are upright your pelvic floor is relieved.
Ensure proper toilet habits
It may come as a surprise, but even such natural and basic activities as visits to the toilet can cause harm if they are too frequent.
Here are some tips on how to improve improper toilet habits:
- Don't use the toilet to spare. Too frequent use of the toilet leads to an over-stimulated bladder and an increasing urge to pee (in addition, avoid the following phrases to children: pee before you go, to spare, to hurry - this causes the child to start pushing on the bladder and learns incorrect habits).
- Don't hold urine. Using the toilet too infrequently leads to overstretching of the bladder.
- Do not withhold the urine stream during micturition.
- During micturition and defecation, avoid pushing, try to relax.
- When defecating, put a small stool under your feet so that your knees are higher than your hips.
- Don't clean your nose on the toilet.
- Do not use the toilet while in a squat. In this position, you have to increase your push, and this leads to a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles. Therefore, if you use the toilet in a public place use special pads or toilet paper.
How to take care of the pelvic floor in daily life?
When coughing and sneezing, remain upright. If you are experiencing urine loss you can twist your torso to the left or right side, in this position the pelvic floor will remain active and this should reduce uncontrolled urine leakage. You can also cross your legs - this will support the pelvic floor muscles.
When lifting heavy objects, keep your back straight, knees bent and the object being lifted as close to you as possible. This is feasible if you can activate your pelvic floor properly.
Remember to stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet. This will help you avoid constipation, which contributes to pelvic floor muscle dysfunction.
Ensure adequate, moderate physical activity and amount of exercise.
Start breathing with the diaphragm - this relaxes and reduces stress, and benefits our organs.
Train your pelvic floor muscles so that they are fit and efficient and that they relax when needed. Do the exercises that are right for you. A urogynecological physiotherapist, who specializes in all kinds of pelvic problems, restoring the correct tensions in the body, especially in this area, will help you choose the exercises.
If you notice troubling symptoms in yourself, you can consult a specialist during urogynecological therapy.