Do you know exactly where your pelvic floor is? Have you ever given Kegel’s a try? If the answer to both of these is ‘no’ or if there’s anything else you’re wondering about your pelvic floor, read on to find out more…
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor muscles are a supportive sling of muscles, stretching from the tailbone at the back to the pubic bone at the front. If your pelvic floor is weak, this means your internal organs are not fully supported and this can result in bladder and bowel incontinence.
What weakens the pelvic floor?
A weak pelvic floor can be caused by the following:
- Being overweight
- A lack of general fitness
- Straining to empty your bowels
- A chronic cough
It’s important to note that this list doesn’t cover all the factors which can lead to a weakened pelvic floor.
How to do pelvic floor exercises
Anyone can do pelvic floor exercises (otherwise known as Kegels) and the good thing is, you can do them absolutely anywhere and no one would know!
The guidance is slightly different for men and women. Here are a couple of useful PDFs you can refer to which provide all the guidance you need to start doing effective pelvic floor exercises. For the ladies, please click here to see guidance for women on how to exercise the pelvic floor. To view pelvic floor exercises for men, please click here.
Pelvic floor exercises for men? Are you sure?
There’s an assumption that pelvic floor exercises are exclusively for women. Men can absolutely benefit from doing pelvic floor exercises. This can help to reduce the impact of urinary and bowel incontinence. It can also help to improve the quality of erections, which is something some men can struggle with after treatment for prostate cancer.
What are pelvic floor toners?
Pelvic floor toners are small, ergonomic-shaped devices which are inserted (either vaginally or rectally) that help you to tone your pelvic floor muscles. There are many options available and they operate in different ways. Some are connected to an electronic device which shows you how much you’re squeezing your muscles during the exercises. This visual guide can be reassuring, particularly for people who aren’t convinced they’re doing the exercises ‘properly’. Others vibrate to let you know when to squeeze your muscles and when to release. A water-soluble lubricating gel can be applied to the pelvic floor toner to make insertion more comfortable. You can use a tube of gel or a gel sachet. Whatever you prefer!
It’s worth doing some research online or asking your GP/Continence Nurse for further information if you feel you could benefit from using pelvic floor toners.
Will pelvic floor exercises help prolapse?
If you don't have any symptoms or the prolapse is mild, making some lifestyle changes can ease your symptoms and stop the prolapse getting worse. They can also help to reduce your risk of getting a prolapse in the first place. This includes doing regular pelvic floor exercises to strengthen your muscles.
I’m pregnant – should I be doing pelvic floor exercises?
Yes! Doing pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy will help prevent you accidentally leaking wee when you cough or strain, both during your pregnancy and after your baby is born.
You can start doing pelvic floor exercises as soon as you feel comfortable to after birth. This will help to:
- Prevent and treat stress incontinence.
- Improve the circulation of blood to your perineum, which will help to reduce any swelling and bruising you may have.
- Rebuild strength in your pelvic floor.
If you have any further questions or feel you could benefit from extra support after reading this article, please don’t hesitate to speak to your GP or practice nurse.