Like most things in life that fall into the “out of sight, out of mind” category, you probably don’t think much about your pelvic floor, but you should — more than one-third of all women have at least one pelvic floor disorder.
Your pelvic floor performs a host of important roles, and if any one of them malfunctions, you may experience a number of unpleasant symptoms or develop some serious medical conditions.
Here, Dr. Khashayar Shakiba, our expert urogynecologist at Women’s Pelvic Surgery of North Jersey, in Hackensack, New Jersey, explains exactly what your pelvic floor is, why it’s so important, and what you can do if it’s not performing its job.
What does the pelvic floor do?
Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles located at the base of your pelvis. It forms a bowl-shaped foundation and attaches to your tailbone, pelvis, and pubic bone. A healthy pelvic floor goes unnoticed throughout the day, but it’s always hard at work. Here are its five main functions.
1. Stabilizes your core
If you’re into core training, you should make sure to include intentional pelvic floor exercises in your workout. The pelvic floor muscles connect to the hips and pelvis, so they help control the movement of your back muscles, abs, and hips.
2. Supports organs
Your uterus, bladder, and rectum rely on your pelvic floor to hold them in place. Without the basket-shaped support, gravity or excess pressure caused by pregnancy or obesity would cause them to slump down and even protrude outside your vagina, a condition called prolapse.
3. Maintains continence
One of the most important pelvic floor functions is keeping your urine and feces from leaking out unexpectedly. Your pelvic floor muscles wrap around your urethra and rectum, forming a sphincter that seals tightly until it’s time to urinate or have a bowel movement. Then they relax and allow elimination on your terms.
But if the pelvic floor muscles are weak, you may leak a little every time you cough, sneeze, laugh, or exercise, a condition called incontinence.
4. Pumps blood
Much like your leg muscles assist your veins in sending blood back to your heart, your pelvic floor muscles serve as a “sump pump” and aid the circulation process.
5. Facilitates sex
Strong, healthy pelvic floor muscles make for great sex. In men, they’re necessary to achieve and sustain an erection, and in women, they’re the key to strong orgasms. When your pelvic floor is in good condition, you have better blood flow and an enhanced libido.
What causes pelvic floor problems?
Like all your muscles, your pelvic floor may naturally weaken as you age, but that’s not the only thing that can lead to problems. Other culprits include:
- Pelvic surgery
- Nerve damage
If you need help strengthening your pelvic floor muscles, Dr. Shakiba can teach you how to target that muscle group with Kegel exercises, which you can do just about anywhere without anyone knowing. If you have trouble getting the hang of it, biofeedback can help you learn your body’s signals so you can get the most out of your Kegels.
We also offer Emsella®, a breakthrough treatment that uses electromagnetic energy to stimulate thousands of pelvic floor contractions per session. You sit comfortably on a special chair while fully clothed as the machine does the work for you, strengthening your muscles and reteaching them how to function properly.
If you’re dealing with organ prolapse or another serious condition, we may need to perform a surgical procedure to reconstruct your pelvic floor. Dr. Shakiba is highly experienced in these minimally invasive techniques and can restore your pelvic floor no matter what’s causing the problem.
To learn more, schedule a consultation with Dr. Shakiba and find out how a dysfunctional pelvic floor may be the root of your symptoms. Call us at 201-279-5787 today, or request an appointment online.