Both women and men around the world are prone to suffer from certain disorders related to the pelvic floor muscles, which are the muscles located at the bottom of the pelvis, forming a sort of bedding that contains the pelvic organs. These organs include the bladder, the intestines and, in the case of the female organism, the uterus and other genital structures are also included.
This is why most of the pelvic floor-related dysfunctions impact these organs, the most common being: bladder and intestine incontinence, uncontrollable gas, sexual dysfunction, genital prolapse, and haemorrhoids. These conditions are capable of affecting people´s everyday routine, impairing them, and often keeping them from enjoying a normal and fulfilling lifestyle.
For these reasons, having control over the pelvic floor muscles is so important. When these muscles relax or get somehow injured, they are no longer able to actively support the pelvic organs, which must be contained exclusively by the tendons, ligaments, and nerves. As time passes, these tissues will stretch and get weak, leading to the disorders previously mentioned.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
How do the pelvic floor muscles work?
Commonly referred to as the forgotten muscles, the pelvic floor muscles have very important tasks to perform:
1. They give us control over the bladder and intestine.
2. They team up with the back and abdominal muscles to steady and hold the spinal column.
During pregnancy, these help support the uterus and during the labour process, these are responsible for the contractions that result in the birth of the baby.
They play a paramount role in people´s sexuality, specifically in erectile function and ejaculation for men, and sexual stimulation for women.
In their ideal state, these muscles are strong and dense, moving up and down, front to back, and side to side. They are comprised of three layers: the endopelvic fascia, the pelvic diaphragm, and the urogenital diaphragm, which connects the anus and urethra (in the case of men), and the anus, urethra, and vagina (in the case of women).
Essentially, when the pelvic floor muscles contract, the pelvic organs are held in place, and when these relax, the crossover of urine and feces is automatically allowed.
What happens when the pelvic floor muscles weaken?
Some of the most frequent factors that contribute to a weakened pelvic floor are being overweight, prostate surgery and childbirth. Despite the pelvic floor muscles´ importance, human beings often pay little attention to this part of their anatomy and prefer to exercise other parts of the body.
Numerous studies have illustrated that the pelvic floor may be conditioned and controlled, on purpose, and that this is the most effective treatment therapy for patients that have not reached a critical state of the previously stated medical conditions, urgently requiring surgery.
Pelvic floor exercises for women
Since almost a third of all women worldwide are affected by pelvic floor-related dysfunctions, practising pelvic floor exercises is very important for females. Kegel exercises are the most popular training method for these muscles. These exercises are designed to improve the pelvic floor muscles' tone and to spare women from incontinence or reduced control over urine, faeces, and gas release.
Specialists recommend identifying and getting a feel for the pelvic floor muscles, first and foremost, before starting a regular pelvic floor muscle toning program. There are two alternatives to do this:
When a woman feels the urge to urinate, she can sit on the toilet and attempt to urinate but then stop urinating. This way, she will feel how the pelvic floor muscles around the anus, vagina, and bladder tighten and go up.
Another method to identify the pelvic floor muscles consists of introducing a finger in the vagina, tightening the muscles around that finger the same way she would if she were holding her urine, finally relaxing.
The easiest way to describe the Kegel exercises method is to relax the pelvic floor muscles and then contract them. There are a few steps to follow in order to effectively accomplish this training:
First of all, the bladder must be empty in order to avoid accidents.
Then, one needs to contract the pelvic floor muscles and hold that tension while mentally counting up to 10.
Subsequently, the pelvic floor muscles must be entirely relaxed, again, while mentally counting up to 10.
Finally, is very important to repeat the series at least 10 times a day, distributed in 3 to 5 repetitions at morning, afternoon, and night time.
One of the positive aspects of this training is that people can do it in any position, at any time, during any activity, and in any place they feel like. Although many patients prefer to do it in their private time and in a lying position, at first, they quickly get used to these exercises, especially after 4 to 6 weeks, which is the moment when most of them notice some improvement.
Another key strategy would be to do the exercises at critical times, such as when feeling like they are about to leak urine when sneezing, coughing, getting up from a chair or laughing hard. Even if these are done properly, it may take as long as 3 months to see a major change.
Although the most common pelvic floor exercises are Kegel´s, there are other options for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, such as vaginal weight lifting. These weights are designed to tone this particular group of muscles and to prevent a very common female disorder known as urinary stress incontinence.
Just like dumbbells or barbells, these devices are cones of varied weights. To begin with, women are advised to test their pelvic floor strength by introducing the lightest cone in the vagina and verifying whether they are able to hold it for a whole minute or not.
If they succeed, they must insert the next cone in weight and so on, until they are no longer able to hold the device in position, which is the one they should start training with, for over ten minutes, twice a day. These exercises must be performed in a standing position or in motion, and are meant to progressively improve the pelvic floor muscles strength.
Transvaginal laser treatments
While pelvic floor exercises come highly recommended, there are a number of cases that present that will benefit from transvaginal laser treatment. Follow the link below to learn more.