Your pelvic floor muscles stretch from either side of your pelvis and from your pubic bone in front across to the bottom of your tailbone like a tight hammock. They hold your bladder, uterus and bowel in place.
These muscles are often weakened due to childbirth, injury, surgery, lack of exercise and menopause. If the muscles start to sag, you may be more likely to have a prolapse of your uterus. You may also have problems with your bladder. Doing pelvic floor exercises will improve your bladder control and vaginal response during sex.
Q. What's the technique for doing pelvic floor exercises?
A. Here are two methods. They become easy with practice.
- Sit on a firm chair, lean forward with a straight back, with your legs wide apart and your feet flat on the floor.
- Gently draw your urethra and vagina forwards and upwards to your pubic bone, as if you were drawing them up a ramp, while looking at a high point on the wall in front of you.
- You might feel a gentle tightening just above the pubic bone, or in front of the hip-bones, but you must not feel a tightening around the anus or buttocks.
- Hold for five to 10 seconds, rest, then repeat three or four times over a minute.
- The muscle tires easily, so do only a few minutes of the exercise during the day, preferably in the morning.
This is designed to strengthen the deep abdominal muscles that work with the front to back muscles.
- Stand comfortably, with your back and knees straight. Focus on your deep abdominal muscles, and gently draw them towards your lower back, and hold. Don’t move your trunk or pelvis.
- Breathe normally. You should become aware of a gentle tension around the urethra and vagina. You will also feel a tightening of soft tissue across your lower back. There should be no tightening of the anus or buttocks.
- Start by holding for five seconds, then build up over time to 10, 15, then 20 seconds.
- Try to practise a total of two to three minutes of exercises spread out over the day. Any time of day is suitable. You will notice an improvement in a couple of weeks.
- For the next three months, spend a total of five minutes a day practicing the exercises.
- If you are unable to manage the exercises and need a bit of help, see a physiotherapist who is experienced in treating pelvic floor muscles.