How to Address the Problem of Weak Pelvic Floor Muscles
Your pelvic floor muscles run from your pubic bone at the front of the body to the base of your spine round the back. They form a sling shape and are designed to support the important organs in the area, such as your uterus, vagina, bowel and bladder.
In addition to holding everything in place, these muscles perform another very important function. Whenever you have the urge to urinate, it’s these muscles that provide you with the control you need to ensure you get to the toilet on time. When these muscles relax, your bladder contracts, releasing urine.
When Damage Occurs
Regrettably, over time, these important muscles can weaken. As we age, the pelvic floor muscles become naturally more stretched, which can affect how well they function, especially when it comes to holding in the flow of urine. Additionally, when women are pregnant, this often impacts badly on the muscles, which again, leads to problems in later life.
This weakness can cause urinary incontinence, which is when urine leaks out without you being able to control it. In other instances, it may lead to pelvic organ prolapse, where one of the pelvic organs bulges into the vagina. It’s important to note that, although the problem is more common in women, men can experience weak pelvic floor muscles too!
Fortunately, in most cases, the problem can be addressed by strengthening the muscles. If you’re struggling to control your bladder due to weakened pelvic floor muscles, you may find the following exercise helpful.
Exercise to Help Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles
The most common pelvic floor exercise is to tighten and release the muscles that you use when you’re stopping the flow of urine. Aim to pull them in tightly, hold for a few seconds, then release. You should try to repeat this at least 10 to 15 times, and over time, aim to increase the amount of time you hold the muscles for.
If you initially struggle to hold the muscle for very long, don’t worry. Exercising your pelvic floor is the same as exercising any other weakened muscle; it will take time to build up muscle tone and get results. However, it is important to keep going with it. Keep practicing, and if possible, keep track of your progression by jotting down how long you’re able to tighten the muscles for each time you do it.
In most cases, it’s possible to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles by exercise alone. However, if the muscles are left badly damaged, for example, as a result of childbirth, then additional help might be needed.
There are a range of alternate treatments for weak pelvic floor muscles, including the use of electrical stimulation on the muscle to help strengthen it, and use of vaginal cones. If you feel that your condition is too severe to treat at home, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with your doctor, in order to discuss the full range of options available to you.