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The Pelvic Floor

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is a sling-shaped muscle between your legs that starts at your pubic bone and runs to the base of your spine. These muscles support our pelvic organs and the pelvic girdle, but also play a big part in keeping us continent (preventing leakage from the bladder and bowels).

Most people tend to think of pelvic floor issues as affecting women, but regardless of gender, we all have a pelvic floor.

Do I have to do exercise for it?

The pelvic floor can become weakened following pregnancy and childbirth, chronic coughing, constipation or being overweight. This can result in incontinence, increased risk of prolapse of pelvic organs, reduced sensitivity in intercourse and decreased pelvic support.

Like any muscle, they are designed to be worked and if they are struggling to do their job, they need to be worked better.


So, what do I have to do? 

For the pelvic floor to be strengthened, just like any muscle, it needs to be exercised.


How do I exercise my pelvic floor?

You can find these muscles through imagining you are trying to stop yourself from passing wind at the back and urine at the front. You should feel a gentle drawing up of the muscles in the area under and between your legs. Try not to hold your breath or tighten your bigger bottom and thigh muscles.

It is important that you practise this exercise in two different ways. We would advise you to do:


1. 10 fast contractions, tightening and relaxing the pelvic floor

2. 10 slow contractions - hold the contraction for 10 seconds at a time


Try to repeat this 3 times a day. Start in a comfortable lying position initially, then progress to a seated position, then standing and eventually try contracting your pelvic floor through a movement such as a squat.

Should I squeeze as hard as I possibly can?

Working your pelvic floor is more of a skill that needs to be learnt. Unfortunately, it isn’t a case of working as hard as you can will result in it feeling better more quickly.

Imagine an elevator. When you squeeze your pelvic floor, you are going up in the elevator. The harder you squeeze the higher you go. There are 10 floors in the building but you are aiming for floor 4, not floor 10! So a small contraction where you feel a gentle drawing up is perfect.

I am a man, is this still relevant to me? 

Absolutely. Men can suffer from a weak pelvic floor too and can benefit from following the same guidance as above.


What else do I need to know?

If you have any concerns that either you are not progressing with your pelvic floor exercises or that your issues might need further input, it is important you speak to your GP or pelvic health physiotherapist (GP referral required).


Follow these links from the James Paget University Hospital for more support:

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