What You Need To Know About Your Pelvic Floor
What You Need To Know About Your Pelvic Floor

What You Need To Know About Your Pelvic Floor

Exercising the pelvic floor is often neglected until we encounter problems. Responsible for everything from a strong core to satisfying orgasms and good lower back support, the pelvic floor deserves more attention. This is what the experts recommend…
By Tor West


Hollie Grant, founder of The Bump Plan, says…

The Pelvic Floor Is Invisible But Important

“The muscles that comprise your pelvic floor are in the shape of a shallow bowl stretching from your pubic bone to your tailbone and cradle your bladder, bowel and uterus. It’s important they stay strong and in shape for these organs to not only function properly but also stay where they should. Together these muscles create stability in the pelvis, support internal organs, allow control of the bowel and bladder, and contribute to sexual health – they’re the same muscles that contract during orgasm. The reason many of us realise we have an issue with our pelvic floor is when one of these functions is affected – think leaking urine, or a lack of sensation or pain during sex.”

Kegels Aren’t Always The Solution

“Whatever life stage you’re currently going through, you’ve likely been told that the answer to a stronger pelvic floor is practising Kegels (tensing and relaxing the muscles in your pelvic floor) to strengthen the area. When we think about a weak pelvic floor, we immediately think of that hammock-like structure being too loose, but the muscles can also become too tight, which confusingly creates the same symptoms as a weak pelvic floor. Pelvic floor dysfunction isn’t always borne from a weak pelvic floor – those with a very tight, overactive pelvic floor can have similar symptoms, and adding more tension with Kegels may not be the best approach. This is why an assessment with a pelvic health physiotherapist is worth its weight in gold – they can help you determine the best course of action.”

There Are Two Types Of Muscles 

“Your pelvic floor is made up of both fast and slow twitch muscles. Fast twitch muscle fibres respond best to rapid pulses of the pelvic floor, while slow twitch fibres respond better to longer holds. Rapid pulses will enable the body to avoid ‘accidents’, while holds will improve the endurance of the pelvic floor. Aim for ten rapid pulses of the pelvic floor, and ten holds (eight to ten seconds) two to three times per day. When engaging these muscles, visualise the three holes of the pelvic floor (the urethra, vagina and anus) closing and lifting upwards. You’re aiming for a contraction of the pelvic floor – imagine picking a blueberry off the floor with your vagina, which would require a squeeze and a lift. Relaxing the pelvic floor after a contraction is just as important – don’t forget to do this.”

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

“Pelvic floor health needs to be a bigger part of the conversation, and we should start training it as soon as we can in life. Just because the muscles are associated with the genital area doesn’t mean they can only be dealt with later in life. I see too many women with pelvic floor dysfunction who could have avoided it had they known more about their pelvic floor earlier on.”

The NHS App Is A Good Place To Start

“Download the NHS Squeezy app, which educates on the pelvic floor and how to train it, as well as providing prompts to do your exercises daily. It also has a directory of NHS and private pelvic health physiotherapists in your area.”

Visit TheBumpPlan.com


Edwina Jenner, health & menopause coach, says…

Future-Proofing The Pelvic Floor Is Essential

“We often think of pregnancy being the sole contributor to a weak pelvic floor, but this isn’t always the case. Yes, pregnancy – and birth – can weaken the pelvic floor, but a lack of oestrogen during the menopause, ongoing constipation and being overweight can also take their toll. Ideally, we should look to take care of the pelvic floor as prevention rather than cure. The stronger and more toned your pelvic floor when heading towards pregnancy, the more ease you will have around pregnancy discomforts like urine leakage and haemorrhoids. You will also future proof your pelvic floor for later in life, when hormonal changes and age are also thrown into the mix.”

HIIT Could Be Taking Its Toll

“Running, jumping and high-impact workouts cause repetitive pounding on the pelvic floor, which can exacerbate symptoms and make it easier to lose control. Pilates is a great way to stay fit, flexible and strengthen the pelvic floor through gentle movements that engage the core. Strong glutes and hamstrings are also integral to a strong and healthy pelvic floor. A combination of core-focused work such as Pilates and strength training – which is important for bone health and building strength in the lower body – is ideal. If you are a runner and struggling with your pelvic floor, spinning is a great alternative.”

Your Sex Life Can Benefit

“The vaginal walls are layered with pelvic floor muscles, so strengthening these will improve blood supply and nerve activity, leading to enhanced pleasure. And there’s more to it than the physical. Feeling strong and confident in your body – and the pleasure it can bring you – will only add to your self-confidence and heighten your libido.”

It’s A Marathon Not A Sprint

“If you are consistent with your exercises, you can expect to see improvements in pelvic floor strength in as little as two to three weeks. If your muscles were very weak to start with, this may be nearer six to eight weeks. Remember pelvic health varies widely between individuals, and a slow and steady approach is always best.” 

Visit EdwinaJenner.com


Dr Galyna Selezneva says…

It’s Important To Recognise The Symptoms

“Some people have weak pelvic floor muscles from an early age, whilst others notice problems at certain stages in life. The most common symptoms of a weak pelvic floor include leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running; failing to reach the loo in time or having to plan a journey around the loo; constantly needing to wee; passing wind from either the vagina or anus when bending over, lifting or during sex; reduced sensations in the vagina; tampons that dislodge or fall out; or a sensation of heaviness in the vagina.”

Tech Can Help

“Don’t wait until your pelvic floor is bothering you. Even if you have a little bit of leakage while running, this is a warning sign your pelvic floor needs support. At-home pelvic floor trainers have little research behind them – in clinic we see may women who have used multiple tools and exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor but to little effect. The EMsella Chair uses electromagnetic technology to cause deep pelvic floor stimulation – it delivers the equivalent of 11,000 Kegels in one treatment. It’s quick, painless and takes around 30 minutes. You’ll need six sessions, scheduled once or twice per week, for the best results. Results can be visible from the first treatment.”

Visit DrRitaRakus.co.uk


Karin Goldschmidt, senior pelvic floor physiotherapist at King Edward VII Hospital, says…

Pregnancy Weakens The Pelvic Floor

“During pregnancy, the pelvic floor stretches to accommodate the additional strain placed on it by the baby. Over time, this pressure weakens the muscles, and makes it harder for the pelvic floor to bounce back after giving birth. Childbirth also weakens the pelvic floor, especially if you have delivered a larger baby or there was a prolonged period of pushing. Many women are first taught about the pelvic floor when they’re expecting a baby. However, early adoption of pelvic floor exercises can benefit all women later in life, regardless of whether they’ve had children. Evidence suggests girls as young as 12 should be educated on how to strengthen their pelvic floor and should practise exercises daily to reduce the chances of incontinence and bladder issues, which are common for women later in life.”

You May Need Some Initial Guidance

“Pelvic floor exercises are a great preventative measure for incontinence, and internal tools and home trainers are a good option for women with a relatively strong starting point. But if you’re already struggling with a weak bladder, chat to your GP. If you are going through the menopause, you may benefit from vaginal oestrogen, which can be applied as a pessary or cream to provide relief. Your GP may also refer you to a pelvic floor clinic, especially if you have little or no strength in your pelvic floor. Don’t suffer in silence.”

Visit KingEdwardVII.co.uk


DISCLAIMER: Features published by SheerLuxe are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.

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