The pelvic floor (also known as pelvic diaphragm) is a compound structure that encloses the bony pelvic outlet, composed of muscle, fascia, and neural tissue. The pelvic floor muscles attach to the pubic bone at the front and the tail bone at the back. They form the base of your pelvis.
THE PELVIC FLOOR - FUNCTION
The pelvic floor has three main functions:
- Tense: A strong pelvic floor supports the position of the abdominal and pelvic organs, e.g. bladder, bowel, uterus, ovary and vagina in women and prostate in men. It also supports the sphincters of the urethra and anus. Tensing is important to ensure male and female continence (the ability to arbitrarily keep urine and stool).
- Relax: The pelvic floor must be able to open during bowel movements, urination and in women during sexual intercourse and childbirth. The pelvic floor must also be able to let go and relax.
- Counteract reflectively: When coughing, laughing, sneezing or jumping, as well as during physical exertion, the pelvic floor must be able to withstand the high pressure created in the abdominal area. Otherwise, a urine leakage may occur. A strong pelvic floor thus prevents many complaints. Such as back pain or incontinence, and ensures an upright posture. Strengthened pelvic floor muscles can also have a positive influence on sex life. Would you like to strengthen your pelvic floor with the help of vaginal cones or pelvic floor trainers? Then take a look at our Kegel Trainer category.
THE PELVIC FLOOR - STRUCTURE
The pelvic floor is divided into three muscle layers:
- Pelvic diaphragm
- Urogenital diaphragm
- Sphincter and cavernous musculature
The three muscle layers are approximately four centimetres thick. They lie fan-like on top of each other and are connected by muscle fibres and fasciae.
The diaphragm pelvis is the inner muscle layer. It is shaped like a U-shaped funnel and represents the strongest and largest muscle layer. It consists of two muscles: levator ani and coccygeus muscle. In its anterior part, the diaphragm pelvis has an anterior gap – the urogenital hiatus. The urogenital hiatus allows passage of the rectum, urethra and, in women, of the vagina.
The anterior part of the pelvic floor is called the urogenital diaphragm. The urogenital diaphragm is an approximately one centimetre thick, trapezoidal plate of muscles and connective tissue. It extends from the pubic symphysis and the two pubic branches to the ischial tuberosity. It is formed by the transverse perineal muscles and the superficial transverse perineal muscle. Besides to the urethra, the female vagina also penetrates the urogenital diaphragm.
The third, lowermost layer is a final muscle layer consisting of erectile tissue and sphincters. It runs from the pubic bone to the coccyx and encloses the urethra and anus in the form of an eight. This pelvic floor layer consists of three muscles: ischiocavernosus muscle, bulbospongiosus muscle and external anal sphincter.
Do you want to train your pelvic floor muscles? We summarised five effective PC muscle exercises for women.