The science of your pelvic floor
Ladies - we need to talk to you about the pelvic floor muscles. Yes, pelvic floor. If you’ve never heard about it or wonder if we’re talking about home renovation, we’ve got a short explanation. The pelvic floor muscles including the levator ani and the coccygeus are muscles in the bottom of your body that support what we call the “pelvic floor organs”. The pelvic floor organs differ from men and women. Not by shape but because the pelvic floor supports men’s bladder and bowel, so two openings on the pelvic floor for men while it supports women’s bladder, bowel, and (surprise!) women’s uterus - so three openings for women.
What on earth is the pelvic floor?
But let’s focus on you ladies with women’s pelvic floor muscles. As you can see below the pelvic floor muscles are attached to the pubic bone and to the tailbone (coccyx). The tailbone being the base of the spine. The three pelvic floor organs, here the bladder, the bowel and the uterus lie on these very flexible pelvic floor muscles and rely on them for stretching and contracting. When you contract the pelvic floor muscles, the openings to these organs supported by the pelvic floor muscles (we’re talking here about the entry of the vagina, and also about the entries of the urethra, and anus that are known as sphincters) tighten and so nothing is released from your body. On the other hand, when nature calls, for example, you need to relax them to release urine, etc.
The symptoms of a weak pelvic floor
Having weakened or loose pelvic floor muscles is normal in a woman’s life as one in three women suffer with pelvic floor issues. A weakened pelvic floor can be the result of pregnancy, childbirth, chronic constipation, chronic straining from passing bowel movements or obesity. Gaining weight, practicing a high-impact sport, aging, working out too much or coughing regularly can also be reasons for a loose pelvic floor.
You may have a weak pelvic floor if it becomes difficult for you to control your bladder. It’s very common to experience urinary or stool leaks through everyday life when you cough, run or sneeze. Your pelvic floor might be loose if you can’t hold on for the bathroom, if you feel less sensation in your vagina or have the feeling of a heavy vagina. Tampons might not stay in the right place or fall a little time after you inserted them. Another symptom is feeling a bulge at the bottom, or a little out of your vagina. You can then experience a more drastic symptom: a pelvic organ prolapse. It happens when one of your organs move from their normal position to bulge down in the vagina due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. If you suspect to have a prolapse, check the NHS helpful article on this and do not hesitate to consult your health practitioner.
Why training your pelvic floor is important for you.
Whether you’ve had a child, trying to conceive or don’t even want kids, the answer to strong pelvic floor muscles is training. Like all muscle training, little by little, step by step your hard work eventually leads to incremental strengthening gains. The techniques for your training are called pelvic floor exercises also known as “Kegel exercises”. You can do these without any help from us or you can use a pelvic floor trainer to make it easier. Unfortunately, 30% of women don’t exercise correctly, pushing down rather than lifting up the pelvic floor muscles. Unlike any other at-home biofeedback pelvic floor exercise tool, Elvie Trainer’s patented force and motion sensor system detects if you are pushing down and alerts you via the app, helping you to get it right. Inserted like a tampon, the Elvie Trainer tail part which is located out of your body is linked via Bluetooth to the app where your squeezes are measured and you can follow exercises. These exercises help you to strengthen and tone your muscles helping you gain better bladder control. They also make them more elastic and thicker so more effective at keeping the organ entries closed when you need them.
Now we know that a strong pelvic floor helps to reduce the risk of prolapse, urinary incontinence, stool leaks, and unexpected winds, let’s stop talking about body fluids and more about pleasure! The pelvic floor muscles have a sexual purpose for women but also for men. At Elvie, we focus on and care about women but sharing this piece of advice with your partner is always useful! For men, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles improves erections, ejaculations, and orgasms. For women, it improves orgasms, limits pelvic pain, enables your vagina to lubricate more and increases the blood circulation in your vagina, leading to better sexual arousal.
Lastly but perhaps most importantly, if the pelvic floor supports your uterus, it’s also supporting your baby. Your child is an extra weight for your pelvis to support during pregnancy so needs to work harder. Training will also help you when you deliver your baby and in the weeks following, making postnatal recovery easier on you.
Discover our Elvie Trainer but if you have any concerns on ongoing issues do not hesitate to speak to a health practitioner.