The pelvic floor muscles

Moderate to severe cases of uterine prolapse may cause symptoms that include:

– A feeling of heaviness or pressure in the pelvis.

– Painful intercourse.

– Abdominal or lower back pain.

– Feeling something protruding, or the sensation that something is about to fall out of the vagina.

The Kegel exercise

Kegel, or pelvic muscle exercises are named after the doctor who popularized them, teaching women how to strengthen and tone these muscles, helping eliminate incontinence, and reducing the chances of a prolapsed uterus. 15 minutes each day of Kegel exercises can make a noticeable difference in bladder control as well as strengthening the pelvic muscles, which are like any other muscle in the body, needing exercise to stay strong.

To find the correct muscles, start out by trying to stop the flow of urine, you’ll know if you’ve found the right muscles if you are in fact able to stop urinating. Another method of locating the pelvic floor muscles is to lie down, insert a finger into the vagina, and again bear down again as if you were stopping the flow of urine. If you feel a tightening around your finger, you’ve found the pelvic floor muscles.

To do the Kegel exercise, begin by lying down, tightening the pelvic floor muscles, and then holding for a count of three to five seconds. Relax the muscles for another count of three to five, and then repeat the process over again for another set, doing the same thing three times a day. Remember to have patience, as it may take weeks or even months to notice a difference.

Your goal should be to gradually work your way up to 10 or 15 repetitions each time you exercise. Once you’ve mastered the practice lying down, try doing the exercises sitting down, and then while standing up, varying the position each time. Be careful not to tighten any other muscle group or hold your breath while doing Kegel exercises, particularly if you’re having problems with urinary incontinence. Putting pressure on the wrong group of muscles may cause extra stress on the bladder.

To avoid a prolapsed uterus:

– Do regular Kegel exercises.

– Maintain a regular, healthy weight.

– Practice proper lifting techniques and avoid straining.

– Control coughing by not smoking and treating chronic coughs and bronchitis.

– Have regular physical check-ups that include pelvic examinations.

– Older women with concerns may want to speak to their doctor about estrogen replacement therapy (ERT).

Sex And The Pelvic Floor – What’s Exercise Got To Do With It

The pelvic floor is a large hammock or sling of muscles stretching from side to side across the floor of the pelvis in both women and men. It is attached to the pubic bone in front, and to the tail end of the spine behind. The openings from the bladder, the bowels and, for women, the vagina, all pass through this hammock.

The correct anatomical name for these muscles are the pubococcygeus muscles, but nowadays they are more commonly called the pc muscles, or even more commonly, the pelvic floor muscles.

Sometimes they are referred to as a single muscle, but it is more actually more accurate to talk of them in the plural, as there are a number of muscle groups that together make up this muscle sling.

Many women are aware that they should exercise these muscles but very few do it regularly and successfully. Most women who have had children will have been advised on the importance of pelvic floor exercise to restore muscle tone after childbirth, and muscle strengthening was identified as an appropriate treatment for stress urinary incontinence back in the 1950s.

It was during the development of an exercise program for urinary incontinence that an interesting side effect was observed by Dr Arnold Kegel, the originator of these exercises. He claimed that women doing his exercises were finding it easier to reach more frequent and more intense orgasms.

To understand why, consider what happens in your body when you experience an orgasm:

Your heart pumps faster and your breathing gets heavier to fuel those tensing muscles.
Hormones are pumped round your brain and body, telling you this is enjoyable.
Blood is pumped to your genitals to create the tension that will ultimately trigger a pudendal reflex (muscular spasm of the genitals).
That reflex will result in your pelvic floor muscles contracting between five and 15 times at 0.8-second intervals, which is what we know as orgasm.
So when you consider that the essential experience of orgasm is focused on the pelvic floor muscles, it isn’t surprising that exercising and strengthening those muscles might make for more and better orgasms.

The association between strong pelvic muscles and improved sexual response and pleasure, led sex therapists to recommend pelvic floor exercises (or kegel exercises as they are known in the US) to clients, and earned them yet another name: “the love muscle”.

So how do these exercises help to increase sexual pleasure?

The pelvic floor muscles are directly responsible for the amount of sensation you feel during intercourse, and for the amount of grip felt by your partner. So although an exercise regime for these muscles has the same physiological benefits as exercising any other muscle, the spin-offs are much better.
Exercise improves muscle tone which means that the muscle is tighter, so is stretched more by an erect penis.
Strong, firm muscles have more nerve endings, and more nerve endings mean more sensations for you during sex.
Exercise improves circulation, and this is particular important for the smaller muscles of the pelvic floor, which are responsible for engorging the clitoris when you are aroused.
Rhythmic contractions of these muscles contribute to arousal and to many women’s ability to achieve orgasm. Many women report they are able to reach orgasm more easily, and that their orgasms are more powerful, after a pelvic exercise program.
So why wait to start exercising? It takes approximately 12 weeks of regular exercise to make a real difference, so start now, and within three months, a better sex life could be yours!

Pelvic Floor Basics for Every Woman

The pelvic floor is a large hammock of muscles stretching from side to side across the floor of the pelvis. It is attached to your pubic bone in front, and to the tail end of your spine behind. The openings from your bladder, your bowels and your womb all pass through these muscles.

What does the pelvic floor do?

It supports your pelvic organs and the contents of your abdomen, especially when you are standing or exerting yourself.
It supports your bladder to help it stay closed. It actively squeezes when you cough or sneeze to help avoid leaking.
It is used to control wind and when “holding on” with your bowels.
It helps to increase sexual awareness both for yourself and your partner during sexual intercourse.
What weakens the pelvic floor muscles?

Pelvic floor muscles weaken for similar reasons to other muscles in our bodies: natural ageing and inactivity. But these particular muscles are also often weakened through hormonal changes in women’s bodies, and through pregnancy and childbirth. Factors such as being overweight, ongoing constipation and a chronic cough can put extra pressure on them and pelvic surgery can also have damaging effects.

Why are pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegel exercises) important?

A poorly toned, weak pelvic floor will not do its job properly. Women with weak pelvic muscles often experience incontinence and reduced sexual response. But research has shown that these muscles respond to regular exercise. With regular exercise, it is possible for most women to reduce or completely overcome the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, no matter what their age.

A regular exercise regime, introduced early in life, will also prevent many of the problems associated with weak pelvic floor muscles emerging later. It is never too early or too late to begin to exercise these important muscles.

A woman whose muscles are already badly weakened may need the advice of a health professional before embarking on an exercise program. But many women with milder symptoms prefer to try a simple exercise regime for themselves initially. Easy-to-use and affordable exercise aids can provide feedback on correct exercise technique and provide ongoing support.

How to do pelvic floor exercises (kegel exercises)

Slow contractions : Tighten the muscles around your back passage, vagina and front passage and lift up inside as if trying to stop passing wind and urine at the same time. It is very easy to bring other, irrelevant muscles into play, so try to isolate your pelvic floor muscles as much as possible by not pulling in your tummy, not squeezing your legs together, not tightening your buttocks and not holding your breath.

The effort should be coming from the pelvic floor muscles themselves.

For how many seconds can you hold the muscles tight? Try holding it as long and as hard as you can. Build up to a maximum of 10 seconds. Rest for 4 seconds and then repeat the contraction as many times as you can up to a maximum of 10 contractions.

Try to do these exercises in a slow and controlled way with a rest of 4 seconds between each muscle contraction. Practise your maximum number of held contractions (up to 10) about six times each day.

Quick contractions : The ability to work these muscles quickly helps them react to sudden stresses from coughing, laughing or exercise. Practise some quick contractions, drawing in the pelvic floor and holding for just one second before releasing the muscles. Do these steadily, aiming for a strong muscle tightening with each contraction up to a maximum of 10 times.

Try to do one set of slow contractions followed by one set of quick contractions six times each day.

If you do these exercises regularly, you will see optimum results within 3 to 6 months, but you should continue them for life to keep your pelvic floor muscles as fit as possible.