26 Jul What are the Pelvic Floor Muscles?
In women, your pelvis is a circular ring of bones that creates the pelvic cavity. Inside the cavity sit the bladder, the uterus, and the rectum. Each of these organs has an ‘exit’ to the outside of the body, the urethra, the vagina and the anal canal. The pelvic floor makes up the floor of the pelvic cavity. It is made up of muscle, fascia and fibrous tissue, which help to support the pelvic organs.
There is a deep layer and a superficial layer. The deep layer is the layer you would see if you were looking down into the pelvis from above. These muscles are the Coccygeus and the levator ani (made up of iliococcygeus, pubococcygeus, puborectalis). The deep layer works to lift the pelvic organs, removing strain on the fascia.
The superficial layer are the muscles you would see if you were looking up from below, the ischiocavernosus, bulbocavernosus, transverse pereneii superficialis, and external anal sphincter. These muscles provide added closure to the vagina and the anus.
The fascial components are made up of the endopelvic fascia, including the pubocervical fascia, the uterosacral ligaments and the rectovaginal fascia.
The endopelvic fascia helps to support the pelvic organs by suspending the organs from the pelvis. The uterosacral ligaments help to hold the uterus up nice and high. The pubocervical fascia holds the bladder and urethra away from the anterior vaginal wall. The rectovaginal fascia holds the rectum away from the posterior vaginal wall.
It makes sense then that damage or overstretching of the fascia will cause descent of the organs into the vagina. The pelvic floor plays a role as the muscles lift the pelvic organs to take strain off the fascia.
Weakness of the muscles will cause a sagging of the pelvic organs that the muscles are meant to support. They will also affect your ability to control your bladder and bowel, and affect your sexual function, due to the decreased closing pressure that comes with muscle weakness. If the bladder is dropping down into your vagina, this will affect your ability to empty your bladder properly, as well as stop you being able to close off your urethra fully under increases of abdominal pressure. This is when stress incontinence, or leaking with a cough, sneeze, vomiting, or exercise can occur.
All of these conditions can be helped by a pelvic floor physiotherapist. At Gold Coast Physio For Women our core focus is pelvic floor, and we come to you in the comfort of your own home. Contact us for an appointment if you are experiencing any concerns.