What is the Pelvic Floor?
In simple terms, the pelvic floor is described as a large hammock like structure made up of muscles and fascial or elastic tissue stretching from front to back and side to side across the floor of the pelvis. It is attached to your pubic bone in front, the tail bone or coccyx at the back and the ischial tuberosities or 'sit bones' to the sides. It is often misunderstood as just being the "PC" muscle. This is not true, there are many muscles and layers of elastic tissue that make up your pelvic floor
In more detailed and correct terms It is a group of muscles, fascial tissues and ligaments and is in two main layers.
The outer, superficial, layer is made up of :
- ischiocavernosus , bulbocavernosus
- transverse perineal
- external anal sphincter
The deeper layer is known collectively as Levator Ani or the Pubovisceral muscles and is made up of:
The coccygeus (left and right at the back of the pelvis, attaching to the tailbone) and the obturator internus (left and right - on the sides or walls of the pelvis) are also important muscles in the function of the pelvic floor complex.
The urethra, vagina and anus all pass through the pelvic floor via the hiatus - which is the opening or gap between the two sides of the levator ani which is like a horseshoe shape of muscles starting at the pubic bone at the front, travelling backwards to loop around the anus and come forwards again to attach on the pubic bone at the front on the other side. The bladder, uterus and bowel sit up above this hiatus and should be supported there by ligaments, sheets of elastic tissue , and of course the pelvic floor muscles.
What does the Pelvic Floor Do?
- Supports the pelvic organs within the pelvis - the bladder and bowel in men and women and additionally the uterus in women
- Supports your bladder neck and anus to help them stay closed to assist with continence
- Works in co-ordination with the deep abdominal muscle ( transversus) the diaphragm (breathing muscle) and the multifidi in the spine to form your ‘core’ which collectively supports and stabilizes your spine, pelvis and pelvic organs
- Provides sexual response and awareness both for yourself and your partner during sexual intercourse and for men- it helps maintain an erection.
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