You can’t see them, but your pelvic floor muscles are working hard to help your body with bladder and bowel control, sexual function, and abdominal (tummy) and spine support.
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles in your pelvis. They stretch like a hammock from the pubic bone at the front, to the back, and side to side. They wrap around the openings to your bladder, vagina and bowel to support your organs and stop leakage (urine and stool).
WORKING YOUR PELVIC FLOOR
Just like any muscle, your pelvic floor gets stronger from regular workouts. These are known as pelvic floor muscle exercises (called kegels in some countries). You don’t need fancy gym equipment or to lie on the floor for pelvic floor exercise – just a couple of minutes throughout the day.
Find out about pelvic floor muscle exercises with our guide for women.
AN EXERCISE TO IMPROVE OR EVEN CURE INCONTINENCE
Pelvic floor muscle exercises have been shown to be very effective at helping urinary incontinence (leakage from the bladder). Research tells us that when done with a health professional, they can be even more effective, as you will be shown how and when to exercise and use your pelvic floor muscles. They may help with types of incontinence including overactive bladder, urge and bowel incontinence.
Most women see a change in leakage in three months, so check in with a health professional if you aren’t seeing improvement.
EVERY WOMAN IS DIFFERENT
You may have the same signs of urinary leakage as someone else, but a different cause. Some women have weak pelvic floor muscles that can be made stronger with pelvic floor muscle exercises. Others may have a pelvic floor that is too tight and is hard to relax (hypertonic). A pelvic floor physiotherapist, nurse continence specialist or continence professional can work out your cause and a plan to help.
This story was first published in Bridge Magazine. Subscribe and receive Bridge straight to your inbox.