Pelvic floor health for men and women

The exercises to start doing now to avoid incontinence later in life.

pelvic floor health

A weakened pelvic floor is a common complaint for many women and men and, while not necessarily harmful to health, it can lead to disruptive and embarrassing situations. Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to loss of bladder control, bowel incontinence, sexual difficulties and, in extreme cases, prolapse.

What are the pelvic floor muscles?

Pelvic floor muscles are the layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs and span the bottom of the pelvis. The pelvic organs are the prostate gland, bladder and bowel in men, and bladder, bowel and uterus in women. These muscles stretch like a trampoline from the tailbone (coccyx) to the pubic bone and from one sitting bone to the other (side to side). These muscles are normally firm and thick.

Those most affected by pelvic floor problems include:

  • women experiencing or who have experienced menopause
  • women who are pregnant or who have just given birth
  • women who have had gynaecological surgery
  • men who have had surgery for prostate cancer
  • people with a history of back pain
  • people who have experienced injury to the pelvic region
  • people who are overweight and obese
  • people who do high-impact sport or load-bearing exercise, such as running and gymnastics, boxing or weight-training.

Where are the pelvic floor muscles?
The first thing to do is to find out which muscles you need to train.

Sit or lie down with the muscles of your thighs, buttocks and stomach relaxed. It may be useful to use a hand mirror to watch your pelvic floor muscles as they pull up.

Squeeze the ring of muscle around the back passage as if you are trying to stop passing wind. Now relax this muscle. Squeeze and let go a couple of times until you are sure you have found the right muscles. Try not to squeeze your buttocks.

When you go to the toilet to empty your bladder, try to stop the stream of urine, then start it again. Do this to learn which muscles are the right ones to use – but only once a week. Your bladder may not empty the way it should if you stop and start your stream more often than that.

Pelvic floor exercises
Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your urine tube and back passage at the same time. Lift them up inside. You should have a sense of “lift” each time you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Try to hold them strong and tight and count to eight. Then, let them go and relax.

Repeat “squeeze and lift” and let go. It is best to rest for about eight seconds in between each lift up of the muscles. If you cannot hold for eight seconds, just hold for as long as you can. Repeat this “squeeze and lift” as many times as you can, up to a limit of eight to 12 squeezes.

Try to do three sets of eight to 12 squeezes each, with a rest in between. Do this whole training plan (three sets of eight to 12 squeezes) each day while lying down, sitting or standing.

For more information visit continence.org.au

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    COMMENTS

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    Charlie
    23rd Jun 2017
    10:58am
    I am male 68 yo.I have had tailbone pain attacks from this area for about 30 years.
    Most unusual, about two attacks per year. Intense pain lasting 30 to 60 minutes then gone.
    Haven't known any one else to get it. I came down with continuous nerve pain at 56yo, so it might have something to do with that. Like pinch nerve?
    Rosret
    23rd Jun 2017
    12:36pm
    Always good to ask us on social media site! hehe - go to a doctor.
    GeorgeM
    23rd Jun 2017
    7:28pm
    Intense pain is nothing to be laughed about. Going to the doctor is of course recommended, but often doctors cannot identify the problem if it only happens once in 6 months. I am not a doctor but a family member is, and I have accumulated knowledge over decades, and have heard of this. This could be due to muscle spasm internally. Suggest you look at maybe an allergy blood test. Also, consider Lactose and Gluten allergies - I would say immediately stop using all milk products except lactose-free milk. Also, stop having tomatoes, especially raw and especially the skin. The allergy test may give more clues.

    Such ideas on social websites don't cost anything, and if it works, great. Welcome to the power of the internet world!
    Charlie
    25th Jun 2017
    11:22pm
    The first thing doctors do is look at their records to see if anyone else has reported it.
    There are many pain illnesses doctors don't know the cause, so they just treat the pain. I have heaps of stuff I can take, but its just the inconvenience of not being able to see it coming and having to stop everything, while I try to lie perfectly still or squirm around until I get into a posture of least pain.

    Thanks for your advice George. Funny you should mention tomato skin because I have long suspected potato skin, like when they do potatoes in their jackets. I buy potato wedges but just bite the potato out and avoid the skin.


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