Now some of you know exactly what I'm talking about when I mention the pelvic floor however the majority of people either have no idea what those words mean or you’ve heard about it before and now looking around your office feeling embarrassed about whether you should continue reading...
So what is it? Why does it matter? And what should you do about it?
What is it?
Like its name suggests, the pelvic floor is a muscle (many muscles in fact) that stretch like a muscular trampoline from the tailbone to the pubic bone (front to back) and from one sitting bone to the other sitting bone (side to side). These muscles are normally firm and thick.
Imagine the pelvic floor muscles as a round mini-trampoline made of firm muscle. Just like a trampoline, the pelvic floor can move down and up. The bladder, uterus and bowel all lie on the pelvic floor layer which has holes for the tubes of these organs to pass through to the external layer or the body.
How does it work?
Pelvic floor muscles help give us conscious control over the bladder and bowel so that we can control the release of urine, faeces (poo) and flatus (wind) and allow us to delay emptying until it is convenient.
Pelvic floor muscles are also important for sexual function in both men and women. In men, it is important for erectile function and ejaculation. In women, voluntary contractions (squeezing) of the pelvic floor contribute to sexual sensation and arousal.
What goes wrong?
The prolonged and regular pressures we put through our abdomen (such as the coughing, laughing, straining on the toilet, bending down, pregnancy, jumping activities) the pelvic floor has to contract to balance the pressure of the abdomen pushing down - to keep everything safe where it should be.
Sometimes this pressure through our abdomen onto our pelvic floor can become too much and without working the pelvic floor muscle it becomes weak. The weakness then leads to a problem with the normal function such as toilet control and you can get symptoms such as leaking.
Why does it matter?
So the pelvic floor muscle is potentially the most forgotten or ignored muscle in the body. 50% of women aged 45-59 years of age experienced some degree of mild, moderate or severe urinary incontinence – that’s one in two women in that age group. On top of that studies show that 70% of all people with urinary leakage do not seek advice and treatment for their problem.
Because so many people don’t reach out about leakage, it reinforces the stigma attached to this problem when really, we should be embracing women’s health (and men’s) by seeking professional help and advice.
If you have symptoms of the pelvic floor it can be embarrassing, awkward and make you feel like you are restricted in the things you want to do. We want you to get comfortable talking about these topics such as leaking and acknowledge that yes they may be COMMON but that does not mean it is NORMAL.
We want all women (and men) to feel empowered in their health and comfortable in their skin whether it be lifting the laundry basket, playing with their children on the trampoline or participating in cross fit 5 times a week without any leaking.
Your health matters.
What should I do?
Firstly, don’t listen to advice from friends or family that include: "it happens to everyone", "don't worry it's normal", "just carry round spare underwear, that’s what I do" just think to yourself; do you want to wait and see if your symptoms go away? Or do you want to stop those symptoms, so you can feel comfortable in your own skin again? Do you want to jump on a trampoline or run up some stairs, or laugh in public without fearing your leakage?
Don’t delay or fear; get yourself booked in to see a qualified health professional to assess your pelvic floor muscles. Women’s Health Physiotherapists are amazing people, they see all sorts of symptoms and problems to do with the pelvic floor and will help you understand your symptoms and what you can do about them.
Why wait to get yourself on the right track to being the happiest, most comfortable version of yourself?
At Wolli Creek Physiotherapy & Pilates, you’ll be looked after by highly experienced and passionate young physiotherapists with a range of specialist skills and qualifications. We treat and heal all injuries and pain problems, for all kinds of people.