Updated: Sep 15, 2019
The pelvic floor has an important role in urogenital health, respiration and spinal/postural stability. Pelvic floor problems can affect these functions.
The pelvic floor muscles are located between the coccyx (tailbone) and the pubic bone. They support the bowel and bladder along with the uterus and vagina (in females) and prostate (in males).
Muscular bands (sphincters) encircle the urethra, vagina and anus as they pass through the pelvic floor. When the pelvic floor muscles are contracted, the internal organs are lifted and the sphincters tighten the openings of the vagina, anus and urethra. Relaxing the pelvic floor allows passage of urine and faeces.
The pelvic floor is made up of the coccygeus and the levator ani muscles, and these muscles work together like a sling to help support the pelvic organs.
** This is a marvellous design to support our pelvic organs, support optimal breathing (YES the pelvic floor supports respiration!) and improve spinal stability! **
Pelvic floor issues more commonly affect women due to the impact of child bearing on her body, however men can also be affected.
Causes of a Weak or Dysfunctional Pelvic Floor
The pelvic floor can be weakened in many ways, such as:
supporting the weight of the uterus during pregnancy and vaginal childbirth, which may overstretch the muscles
chronic constipation and straining
some forms of surgery that require cutting the surrounding muscles (including prostate cancer treatment in males)
lower levels of oestrogen after menopause
a sedentary lifestyle
The Symptoms of a Weakened or Dysfunctional Pelvic Floor Include:
leaking small amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running
extreme urgency to
failing to reach the toilet in time
uncontrollably breaking wind from either the anus or vagina when bending over or lifting
reduced sensation in the vagina
tampons/menstrual cups that dislodge or fall out
a distinct bulge at the vaginal opening a sensation of heaviness in the vagina.
lower back pain, pelvic pain and sacroiliac joint pain can be associated with pelvic floor muscle dysfunction
Over a period of time some cases of pelvic floor dysfunction can result in:
Inability to control passage of urine, faeces & wind
Bladder and uterine prolapse (when lacking support, these organs can slip into the vaginal passageway & cause a deep, persistent vaginal ache)
Osteopathy for Pelvic Floor Health
Osteopathy may be able to support pelvic floor dysfunction by using a combination of Osteopathic techniques to treat the pelvic floor, the lower back, tailbone, pubic bone and hips (because of the interconnectedness of these areas to the pelvic floor), as well as providing you with a tailored exercise program allowing you to progress at a safe pace.
Pelvic floor issues are still present in women years beyond childbirth, so you may be asked about your obstetric history even if you are in your 80’s!
If real time ultrasound is required, for patient education purposes, you will be referred to one of our recommended Women’s Health Physiotherapists for further assessment.
For more information on Women’s health consultations, or to make an appointment, contact Sammy at Grassroots Healthcare on 07 5543 4254 or click here make an online booking.