Pelvic Floor Health is Not Just For Women

Racing for the toilet, ‘leaking’ when you laugh or sneeze? You might need to think more about your pelvic floor.

Strong pelvic floor muscles are necessary for bladder and bowel control and good sexual function. Studies have found that around 300 million people worldwide experience incontinence, with around a third of women and 16 per cent of men experiencing pelvic floor problems.

Colorectal Surgeon Dr Sanjay Kariappa talks about pelvic floor issues and why we ALL need to care.

“Around 70 per cent of people experiencing incontinence will not seek help. Often, they are embarrassed, or they think it is a normal part of getting older. It is not. People feel self-conscious and may change the way they live. They might reduce their fluid intake, alter the way they eat, only go to familiar places where they know where the bathrooms are, or worst-case scenario do not go out at all.”

Pelvic floor muscles are like a hammock that stretches from your tailbone to your pubic bone. They support your abdomen, your bladder and bowel and, in women, the uterus. These muscles can get stretched or damaged by factors including surgery, chronic cough, heavy weightlifting, or long-term constipation.

How to strengthen your pelvic floor

Pelvic floor exercises are not just for women. Men can also benefit from learning to contract and relax their pelvic floor muscles.

  • Imagine you are trying to avoid passing wind or stop the flow of urine. Tighten those muscles at the same time for one second then release.
  • Repeat that 10 times, aiming for three sets altogether. If you are finding it difficult to locate your pelvic floor muscles, a pelvic floor physiotherapist is a great next step.

“My advice is that if you notice a change in your continence that is impacting your quality of life, please seek help sooner rather than later,” says Dr Kariappa.