Pelvic Floor...what the heck is it?
The pelvic floor refers to a complex structure that closes the pelvic outlet. This consists of pelvic bones, ligaments, connective tissue, pelvic organs and pelvic floor muscles. So the pelvic floor itself is not just a group of muscles. It is a collective group of structures that create support to the pelvic outlet. The term pelvic floor is used day to day to described a group of muscles named levator ani.
The levator ani or "pelvic floor" is a group of muscles in your pelvis that span from your pubic bone to your tailbone (coccyx). They are the deepest layer of pelvic floor muscles and they are largely responsible for supporting our pelvic organs (urinary bladder, uterus, vaginal canal, fallopian tubes, ovaries, rectum and a portion of the small intestines). They also assist in stopping and starting urine and the passage of gas or stool. The levator ani group is made up of pubococcygeus, iliococcygeus, puborectalis. Some believe coccygeus is also apart of the levator ani.
Possible Pelvic Floor Dysfunctions
Under-active pelvic floor- Pelvic floor muscle that are under-active are considered weak due to disuse or over stretching . This can result in impaired support of the pelvic organs (bladder, uterus, ovaries and small intestine) and loss of control over urinary and fecal continence.
Over-active pelvic floor- Pelvic floor muscles that are over-active are considered overworked or shortened for a multitude of reasons. This can result in increased pelvic pain, constipation, difficulty in initiating urination and in some cases stress urinary incontinence.
Pelvic organ prolapse- The pelvic floor musculature can become weak for multiple reasons. When this occurs the muscles lose their ability to supply adequate force to support the pelvic organs. This lack of support to the pelvic organs allows them to drop from their normal resting place. This can cause the pelvic organs to press on the walls of the vaginal canal. The term pelvic organ prolapse refers to this process.
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