What Is the Pelvic Floor?
The pelvic floor is made up of a number of layers of muscle tissue and associated ligaments that are anchored within the ‘bowl’ of the pelvis. These are connected to the pubic bone in the front, the tailbone in the back, between the sitting bones as well as to the hip muscles deep inside the pelvis. The muscular tissue and ligaments support all of the organs located in your pelvic region, including the bladder, small intestine, rectum, and, in women, the uterus and vagina.
The pelvic floor controls the passage of waste through the urethra and anus. Muscular bands called sphincters encircle the urethra and anus. When the pelvic floor muscles contract, the internal organs are lifted and the sphincters tighten around the openings. The sphincter contraction also prevents leaking of urine and stool. When the pelvic floor muscles relax, the sphincters open which enables urine and feces to be eliminated.
In addition to providing essential bladder and bowel control, pelvic floor muscles also contribute to sexual function. Strong pelvic floor muscles correlate with increased sexual sensation and arousal. Pelvic floor muscle spasm however, can result in pain during intercourse and orgasm, as well as causing constipation and bladder problems. The ability of the pelvic floor muscles to both contract as well as relax is critical to normal bowel, bladder and sexual function. Pelvic floor dysfunction, be it weakness, laxity or spasm, can have a significant impact on your overall health.