Updated: Jun 5, 2020
Did you know there is a hidden group of muscles, called pelvic floor muscles, that need special attention?
Many people don’t feel comfortable talking about personal topics like pelvic floor disorders and symptoms such as urinary incontinence (also known as loss of bladder control or urinary leakage). These are actually very common medical problems that can be treated successfully without surgery. Millions of people have the same issues, but many don’t seek treatment and compromise their quality of life.
The pelvic floor is a collection of superficial and deep muscles found in the pelvis area, from the pubic bone to the tailbone. The organs in this area include the bladder, uterus (women), prostate (men), and rectum. By contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, you enable bowel and bladder movements. Common causes of a weakened pelvic floor include pregnancy, obesity and the associated straining of chronic constipation. Having healthy pelvic floor muscles is crucial since they play an important role in supporting the pelvic organs, bladder and bowel control and sexual function, in both men and women.
A very important functional relationship exists between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. They are both components of the core and work together to provide stability in the body and regulate pressure in our abdomen. As you inhale the diaphragm moves, descends and flattens as the lungs become filled with air, while muscles of the pelvic floor also descend and lengthen. As you can see, breath-work is a vital component of pelvic floor health.
For many people, particularly women, the pelvic floor does not work as well as it should. Almost one-quarter of women have pelvic floor disorders, according to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health. Some causes of pelvic floor disorders include childbirth, menopause, hysterectomy and men who have had surgery for prostate cancer. Childbirth can cause tears or stretching of the pelvis muscles, or even nerve damage, resulting in weakness. In more severe cases, childbirth can cause pelvic organ prolapse and contribute to urinary incontinence. Some women may lose a few drops of urine when they laugh or cough. Others may feel a sudden urge to urinate and cannot hold it. Urine loss can also occur during sexual activity.
Treatment can have a dramatic effect on pelvic floor issues. For most people this involves physical therapy exercises, herbal and nutrient supplementation and bladder retraining.
Pelvic floor exercise is an effective conservative therapy and is virtually free of side effects. If you think Kegels don't work, think again. When they are performed correctly and are appropriate for your current level of muscle fitness, Kegel exercises can help you achieve a strong resting pelvic floor muscle tone. It is important to be evaluated by a pelvic floor therapist and get a proper diagnosis because if left untreated, symptoms are likely to worsen over time.
If you have a pelvic health issue, don’t hesitate to learn more about your treatment options. If your doctor doesn’t treat these issues regularly, seek out an expert. Pacific Clinic of Natural Medicine offers pelvic floor therapy and personalized treatment plans to help reach your health goals.
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