Why You Should Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

Your pelvic floor is an extremely important muscle, yet it isn't one we work on when at the gym. According to the Cleveland Clinic, your pelvic floor works to keep your core intact while also assisting in excreting bodily fluids and having sex. Your pelvic floor muscles also hold your bladder in the correct place and ensure that you can cough or lift your child without your internal organs moving around. Sounds pretty important, right?

We often don't pay attention to our pelvic floors until we start to have issues with them. According to Better Health, there are many reasons your pelvic floor may become weak and unable to do its job. Those reasons include pregnancy and birth, chronic constipation, obesity, and treatment for certain cancers. But, even simpler reasons, like a chronic cough and aging, can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, per Cleveland Clinic. 

But, beyond any medical reasons, everyone should work on strengthening their pelvic floor. Here's why.

A weak pelvic floor can lead to many daily issues

You may be under the impression that the only people who need to worry about their pelvic floors are pregnant women and new mothers. And, while, per Lifespan, issues with the pelvic floor are one of the most common effects of pregnancy and birth, a weak pelvic floor can affect just about anyone.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, a weak pelvic floor can lead to urge incontinence, which is when you feel the urge to pee often and are unable to hold it. It can also lead to other forms of incontinence, like being unable to hold in gas and control your bowel movements. Stress incontinence is also an outcome of a weak pelvic floor and usually occurs after an injury or childbirth but can lead to peeing when you laugh, sneeze, or cough. 

According to Better Health, a weak pelvic floor can also lead to painful intercourse, lower sensitivity in the vagina, and even being unable to orgasm. 

If these sound like things you want to avoid, strengthening your pelvic floor is actually quite simple.

How to strengthen your pelvic floor

To avoid any of the negative effects of a weak pelvic floor, there are simple exercises you can do, called Kegels. According to Pelvic Floor First, women can flex their pelvic muscles by stopping their urine flow midway through. This is not something you should do often but to identify exactly where your pelvic floor muscles are. 

Once you do that, you can work on squeezing your muscles for seconds at a time, working up to holding them longer as you progress. Breathe your way through it, and hold for 10 seconds before releasing and holding again. Men can strengthen their pelvic floor the same way, although men who have undergone surgery for prostate cancer should avoid these exercises and speak to a doctor.

To ensure you're working on your pelvic floor muscles, UCSF Health recommends doing Kegels during your everyday activities like cooking dinner or washing the dishes. Doing these exercises regularly will have an impact, but it may take up to seven weeks to see a difference. If you're still experiencing pain, incontinence, or other issues related to your pelvic floor, seek out a professional for help.