Pelvic Floor Dysfunction & 5 Tips To Improve It
by Dr Luke Schmezle DC
The pelvic floor is the foundation of your internal core. It is comprised of a series of muscles stretching from the tailbone to the pubic bone. This creates the base of support for your pelvic organs, allowing you to control your bowel and bladder, and is necessary and important in sexual function, as well as stabilizing your low back and hips. Pelvic floor muscles are also essential players in respiration and posture.
Role of the Pelvic Floor in Health
The pelvic floor is important in so many things that we may take for granted. It works closely with the diaphragm to manage pressure within the abdomen. This is integral when doing things like laughing, sneezing, coughing, jumping, lifting, and running. Your pelvic floor provides support during these demanding activities, maintaining sphincteric control, and stabilizing your core. It is important for a healthy, pleasurable sex life.
Issues with the pelvic floor are often associated with the aging process in both men and women. Quite often it is linked to women giving birth and the subsequent recovery process. Excess weight can also contribute. Additionally, pelvic traumas and surgeries may impact normal function.
When the pelvic floor is weak or out of balance, the following issues may arise:
- Stability and Postural Problems with a weak pelvic floor, failing to properly assist to stabilize hips, low back, and pelvis during everyday function.
- Circulation Issues may arise, as the pelvic floor aids with the movement of blood in and out of the pelvic and genital region.
- Respiration Issues, as the proper movement of the diaphragm is directly tied to the pelvic floor, deep abdominal muscles, and muscles of the spine. Vagal tone can become less than ideal.
- Poor Support to pelvic organs including bladder, prostate, rectum, vagina, and uterus.
- Weak Sphincteric Control, resulting in leakage. We need the ability to keep things in and to let them out at the appropriate time. Bowel and urine control may become problematic.
- Sexual Performance Issues, such as difficulty achieving orgasm, maintaining erection, proper lubrication, etc. Painful sex is often a related side effect that deserves attention. A balanced nervous system is necessary, as the sexual act involves innervation from both the sympathetic and the parasympathetic nervous systems.
5 Action Steps to Improve Function of the Pelvic Floor
- Get Your Spine Checked and Your Nervous System Reset. As a Network Spinal Chiropractor, this is my specialty. The focus here is to restore proper balance and regulation of the central nervous system, to reduce stress and tension from the body, and to restore proper alignment and posture. The Vagus nerve often needs a reset.
- Seek Help from a Specialist. A proficient Physical Therapist with training in pelvic floor issues can coach you through some essential exercises for improving this situation. Locally in Southern Oregon, I recommend Dr. Elle Carlson, PT, DPT of Mobility Innovated for pelvic floor training.
- Add Breath Work to Your Routine. There are many benefits from breath work, and resetting the diaphragm is important to the improvement process. Diaphragmatic or belly breathing techniques are the most used to achieve adequate respiration and a healthy pelvic floor.
- Consider Biofeedback: This is a commonly recommended treatment, done with the help of a specialist. Biofeedback is not painful and helps over 75% of people with pelvic floor dysfunction. Your physical therapist might use biofeedback in different ways to retrain your muscles.
- Speak Up. Finally, I would urge anyone experiencing issues relating to pelvic floor to get some sound medical advice. It is natural to be embarrassed, to keep it hidden, and to hope it goes away on its own. However, pelvic floor dysfunction will usually not resolve on its own. It typically worsens over time, if left untreated. Speaking frankly with a qualified medical professional is the first step to more fully enjoying your life. Be well.