Symptoms of a weak pelvic floor and what you can do about it
A weak pelvic floor is not uncommon but many people choose to live with the symptoms and not treat it. Understanding what makes up the pelvic floor muscles and what are the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor are key to help you understand what you can do about it.
What are pelvic floor muscles?
The pelvic floor muscles cover the bottom of the pelvis and support its organs, namely the bladder, bowel and uterus. These muscles are responsible for controlling the release of urine, faeces and flatus. Contracting the pelvic floor muscles tighten the openings of the vagina, anus and urethra while relaxing them releases urine and faeces. In women, the pelvic floor muscles aid in the birthing process when the baby is delivery via vaginal birth.
In addition to that, the pelvic floor muscles also play a role in sexual function for both men and women. For men it helps with erectile function and ejaculation and for women it contributes to sexual sensation and arousal.
Weakened pelvic floor muscles can create issues with the bladder and bowel and affect one’s sexual health.
Causes for weakened pelvic floor muscles
Pregnancy and childbirth are one of the most common causes for weakened pelvic floor muscles in women, especially for those who have had multiple births, assisted births, 3rd and 4th degree perineal tearing or large babies whose birth weights were over 4kg.
Menopause in women is also another cause for menopause – lower oestrogen levels can cause the pelvic floor to weaken. Age and obesity are other common causes as pelvic floor muscles, as with other muscles in our body, weaken with age and being overweight places added stress on the pelvic floor.
Symptoms of weakened pelvic floor muscles
Look out for these signs if you suspect you may have a weak pelvic floor,
- uncontrollably leaking urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze
- needing to get to the toilet urgently or not making it there in time
- finding it difficult to fully empty your bladder or bowel
- accidentally losing control of your bladder or bowel
- accidentally passing wind when lifting heavy objects or exercising
- painful sex
What you can do about weakened pelvic floor muscles
Pelvic floor exercises are commonly recommended to start working out the muscles. Strengthening them will improve control of your bladder and bowel and reduce the chances of leaking. With regular pelvic floor exercises, the muscles will become stronger. However, it is important that when doing these exercises, the right muscles are activated for them to be effective.
If locating the pelvic floor muscles is tricky, non-invasive options are available to help improve strength and tone without you having to move a muscle. Literally.
Magnetic Muscle Sculpting uses functional magnetic stimulation to contract the treated muscles which simulates a workout for the muscles. Best of all, you do not have to remove any clothing and as you lay back and let the machine do its work of tightening, strengthening and toning the pelvic floor muscles.
Another non-invasive treatment option that may be of interest is V-Vacious using the Vivieve System, using a patented cryogen-cooled radiofrequency device that rebuilds natural collagen for better support in the vagina and urethra. A doctor will place a one-time use treatment tip on the outer wall of the vagina with the treatment over and done with in 30 minutes. Painless and safe, this treatment is highly popular among women.