In all honesty, I didn’t know much about the pelvic floor before I was diagnosed with a prolapse, and I certainly didn’t realise its importance. Prior to childbirth, I was an avid runner and loved high intensity exercises, but I never paid much attention to my pelvic floor muscles or core.
Years later, when I became pregnant with my daughter, I was told by my midwife and health care professionals to keep up with my “Kegel exercises”, so my pelvic floor muscles would be “nice and strong” for the birth and to reduce incontinence afterwards. This was the first time I had ever heard of the word Kegels and I wasn’t exactly sure what I needed to do or even how to contract those muscles.
I decided to give it a go anyway; doing them every now and then when I remembered. However, as it turns out, I was actually completing the exercises incorrectly (which is easily done!) and as a result I was bearing down through my pelvic floor, which basically stretched and strained my pelvic floor tissues further making the problems worse.
In hindsight, I should have paid a lot more attention to those muscles and should have taken the time to see a woman’s health physiotherapist to explain to me how the pelvic floor muscles work and how to exercise them properly.
So, what is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles and ligaments that stretch from the tailbone to the pubic bone and act as a supportive sling for the pelvic organs – the bladder, bowel, womb and vagina protecting them from damage.
And, why are your pelvic floor muscles important?
The pelvic floor muscles provide support from below to counteract the forces from above.
Strong pelvic floor muscles lead to increased sensitivity during sex and stronger orgasms, as well as preventing pelvic floor disorders such as incontinence (the involuntary loss of urine or a bowel movement) and/or pelvic organ prolapse (lack of support).