How to Improve Pelvic Health?

how to improve pelvic health

While traditionally thought of as something affecting only women, pelvic floor health is important for everyone.  

Both males and females have a group of pelvic floor muscles that are located at the bottom of the pelvis, spanning from the pubic symphysis at the front, to the coccyx (tailbone) at the back.  

Although a small group of muscles, the pelvic floor has a number of key functions. Your pelvic floor muscles are responsible for supporting the pelvic organs sitting above, that being the bowel, bladder and in females the uterus. The pelvic floor is required to relax to allow us to urinate and defecate and to contract to hold on when needed. Additionally, in someone who is pregnant the pelvic floor helps to support the weight of the growing foetus and also is required to relax to allow for the delivery of the baby during childbirth.  

Both males and females can perform pelvic floor exercises to strengthen these muscles. Males often participate in pelvic floor strengthening if they have incontinence or for improved outcomes and recovery after prostate surgery. It is extremely beneficial for all females to participate in pelvic floor strengthening exercises for a number of reasons. Similar to males, pelvic floor exercises can help improve symptoms of incontinence. They can also help to assist with recovery after pregnancy and childbirth. Pelvic floor exercises can be used to treat sexual dysfunction or to improve sexual function. Lastly, pelvic floor exercises can help to prevent and treat pelvic organ prolapse.   

The best way to ensure you are doing pelvic floor exercises correctly is to go to a certified pelvic floor physiotherapist for an assessment. Based on your pelvic floor functioning they can work with you to target specific areas. Some people, need to focus on strengthening, whilst others might first need to learn how to relax overactive muscles before starting a strengthening program.  

How to do pelvic floor strengthening: 

  1. Find a comfortable position, sitting up tall in a chair or lying down.  
  2. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles as if you are stopping yourself from passing wind, hold for a few seconds and then relax. It is important that you feel the squeeze and lift of your muscles when you are turning them on, but also the muscles relax when you let them go.  

To make the exercises more difficult you can do them in standing, or increase the time of each pelvic floor hold, as long as you can always feel your muscles fully relax after each contraction. Also consider mat Pilates, Point Lonsdale residents have made a part of their strengthening strategy.

It would be beneficial to go and see a pelvic floor physiotherapist if you are having difficulty performing your pelvic floor exercises.

How to improve pelvic health:

Alongside regularly doing your pelvic floor exercises there are a number of other ways we can help promote good pelvic health.  

  • Contract your pelvic floor prior to lifting heavy items. Whenever there is an increase in abdominal pressure there is a subsequent increase in pressure on the pelvic floor. This is what happens when you lift heavy items or weights at the gym. By contracting your pelvic floor before these movements, you can help protect against the increased strain and pressure on your muscles.  
  • Contract your pelvic floor before coughing or sneezing. Similarly, when you lift something heavy, coughing and sneezing increases pressure on your pelvic floor. By contracting these muscles prior to this it can better prepare the muscles for the increase in pressure and prevent episodes of incontinence.  
  • Stop straining on the toilet. Straining to pass bowel movements is one of the main risk factors for developing pelvic organ prolapse. Addressing causes for straining is very important for long-term pelvic floor health. Using a footstool on the toilet can also help to decrease strain on the pelvic floor.  

As you can see your pelvic floor has some very important roles. Like any other muscles in our body, it is important to exercise and strengthen these muscles to help promote good pelvic health.