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12 things you need to know about your pelvic floor

13 May 2019

Jane Simpson, Continence Nurse Specialist and author of The Pelvic Floor Bible, shares her top tips on how to prevent and cure incontinence problems, at every stage of your life.

About Mrs Jane E Simpson

I have been a continence nurse specialist with special interest stress incontinence, overactive bladder and urge incontinence, vaginal prolapse, pregnancy and childbirth, the menopause, sex and the pelvic floor, your bowels and your pelvic floor and last but definitely not least men and their pelvic floor. I have written a book called The Pelvic Floor Bible.

I have written The Pelvic Floor Bible to share my passion for this under-talked about and under-reported subject. I hope to spread the word that no one needs to suffer in silence ever again. Let’s end the taboo of this very common condition once and for all.

1.  Your pelvic floor is vitally important to your wellbeing

Most of us are familiar with the concept of pelvic floor exercises, but too often we don’t do them properly or practice them regularly enough, if we even do them at all! For millennia they have been performed throughout the world to help with spiritual wellbeing, pelvic floor health and sexual energy to name a few reasons.

2.  Your pelvic floor is easy to find, you just need to know how

This is one way. Sit on the arm of a chair, an exercise or fitness ball or any hard surface with your feet flat on the floor. Lean slightly forward with your vulval area in contact with the hard surface. With your hands on your thighs try to lift the area around your vagina and anus away from whatever it is you are sitting on. 
These are your pelvic floor muscles contracting.

3. Your pelvic floor muscles are the bottom part of your core. They are the floor of your pelvic cavity

Acting like a hammock they provide the main support for your pelvic organs. Without them your internal abdominal and pelvic organs would simply fall out!

Your pelvic floor muscles are wrapped around the urethra, vagina and anus in women, and around the urethra and anus in men. They are able to contract when you cough or sneeze to help keep you to be continent and prevent you from leaking.

4. Stress incontinence is more common than hay fever but certainly not discussed as much

Do any of these things below ring a bell with you?

  • Have you ever had to stop in the street to cross your legs before you sneeze?
  • Have you stopped running, playing tennis, or any other sport that you really enjoyed because you’re worried you might have an accident?

5. A recent review concluded that sports practice increases the prevalence of urinary incontinence, with high impact causing the most incontinence

It’s important that we all start doing our pelvic floor exercises even if we don’t have a problem at the moment. This review highlights that it can happen to us at any time in our life so it’s best to start working on your muscle training straight away! Don’t think you’re immune from danger if you haven’t or aren’t planning to give birth. Always remember you are never beyond help whatever age you are.

6. Pelvic floor dysfunction is not just about stress incontinence 

Do you frequently or urgently need to go to the toilet? Does the sight of your front door trigger an urgent need to pee, causing you to hop up and down while you find your key? You tell yourself it’s ridiculous, you only went an hour ago but if you don’t get into the house fast disaster will strike.

7. Childbirth is a common cause of pelvic floor dysfunction 

About 250 babies are born every minute around the world and every single woman needs to be doing pelvic floor exercises afterwards. Whether you had a vaginal delivery or a caesarean section, it’s a myth to think that it’s normal to leak if you sneeze after having a baby.

8. It is thought that about 50 per cent of women over fifty have some degree or symptoms of prolapse 

It’s not normal or right to just accept a prolapse as a part of aging. You may however have no symptoms and it is only noticed on a routine smear test, on the other hand it may feel like you are sitting on a ball, or have a heavy feeling in your vagina.

Whether your prolapse is big or small don’t just ignore it and hope it goes away. Start working on your pelvic floor exercises straight away.

Exercise class sitting down with a woman at the front and centre

9.  Pelvic floor dysfunction can start at the menopause when your oestrogen levels start to fall

Statistics tell us there are about one billion women in the world in the menopause and as women we are living longer and being more active. Don’t whatever you do neglect your pelvic floor at this time.

We are now likely to spend about one third of ours lives going through or in the menopause. So be empowered to start working on your pelvic floor as soon as you read this article!

10. Your bowels may not be a glamorous subject but we all have to go

Did you know that about 50% of people with chronic constipation are using their pelvic floor muscles in the wrong way?

11. Men definitely have a pelvic floor too

In general the male pelvic floor behaves better than the female one largely as men are not having babies. However about one third of men over the age of 50 have some form of lower urinary symptoms. So it’s still important for men to do pelvic floor exercises.

12. Pelvic floor exercises are good for your sex life

Our pelvic floor muscles are very important for sex so if you haven’t been motivated to start your pelvic floor exercises by now, this is the time to take note of the benefits.

Doing pelvic floor exercises helps increase the blood supply to the vagina and penis, improves muscle tone and helps maintain nerve activity, resulting in improved sexual sensation and satisfaction. Like any exercise regime, if you have strong muscles you feel good about yourself.

Further information

Find out more about The Pelvic Floor Bible and purchase your copy online at Amazon.


Any views expressed in this article are those of the featured specialist(s) and should not be considered to be the views or official policy of The London Clinic.