The pelvic region is from the top of that bony area where ‘hands go on the hips’ all the way to the openings and closings we’d use on the toilet. There is a lot contained in this defining space – bones, muscles, a bladder, maybe a uterus, genitals, a rectum and more.
The culmination is the pelvic floor, the very bottom. Every day, every minute, there is something going on down there. Since all of us are born with a pelvis and we need it for daily life, let’s talk about what a healthy pelvic floor is capable of. Here are 5 reasons why pelvic health is important:
1) Movements and Positions
The pelvic floor stabilizes our body for activities like walking, running, jumping, stepping, reaching, and lifting. There are numerous muscles, tendons and ligaments present to create and control such actions.
The pelvis maintains sitting or standing postures too. If seated in a chair for example, the ‘hip bones’ must be shifted forward before the back or shoulders can straighten. This is how the body works to defeat a slouched posture.
When the pelvis is not working in synchronous ways from lack of stability there can be a presence of groin pain and tenderness. This could be among men or women, athletes or recent moms. The pain may occur with a shift onto one leg or when getting out of a car. The pain can be quite unsettling and gives increased appreciation for every time our pelvic area does its duty.
2) Waste Elimination
Now we’re talking about peeing and pooping. Typical urination occurs 6 to 8 times a day and up to once a night. Humans will typically defecate as much as three times a day and as little as once every three days.
By expelling urine and feces the body is ridding itself of wastes. Eating healthy is a start but healthy elimination is the rewarding finish to healthy elimination. Low volumes or infrequent eliminations can indicate constipation or dehydration. Too frequent eliminations upset daily routines and be accompanied by other stomach issues.
Urinary incontinence or leakage affects about 50% of women and 14% of men. Fecal incontinence affects between 7 to 15% of men and women. That means at least one in every seven individuals experiences leakage of pee or poop, or both. Healthy muscles help to maintain closure around the bladder and rectum until it is time to relax to allow healthy elimination. Additionally, appropriate responses to urges permit routine pooping and peeing.
3) Support of Organs
As mentioned above there are several organs in the pelvic cavity. The pelvic floor muscles and tissues support them in the pelvic bowl. As weakness or poor pressure management occurs some of these organs get pushed to or through the pelvic floor openings resulting in prolapse.
Rectal prolapse occurs in both men and women. While uterine prolapse is unique to the female population. Bladder prolapse can occur as well. Healthy pelvic floor muscles along with tissues and ligaments maintain proper placement. Pelvic floor muscle training initially prevents or later improves symptoms.
4) Fluid Flow
Blood and lymph fluids are constantly being moved in the body for oxygen and nutrient delivery. The general rule is that stagnation is not good for the body. Reduction in lymph flow could lead to certain cell death or extreme swelling.
Mild reduction in flow may mean slow maintenance with possible later injury occurring to the surrounding tissues. The pelvic region is a major intersection of both blood and lymph vessels. The vessels are responsible for returning all that has traveled to the legs to the chest, and back and forth.
Vessels carrying fluid are best helped by surrounding muscle activation. This activation and then relaxation moves fluids by pump action. Healthy pelvic floor muscles participate in such a way, actively pumping fluid through the body.
5) Sexual Experience
Couples reporting healthy sex lives have sex 1 to 3 times a week. Ideally orgasm is reached with sex. This is a marker of a satisfying personal interaction but also of a complete physical response. Healthy pelvic floors – muscular with high blood flow – more readily or consistently achieve orgasm due to enhanced arousal, engorgement, and lubrication.
In fact, one of the signs of orgasm itself is 10-15 seconds of reflexive pelvic muscle contractions. These muscles can be targeted with specific exercises which can also lead to better sex. A deep sense of relaxation follows. Sexual dissatisfaction or sex avoidance is reported due to erectile dysfunction for men or insufficient lubrication for women.
These can be caused by poor blood flow and tissue degeneration. Additionally, injury to the pelvic floor muscles or chronic clenching of these muscles may lead to pain with sex.
Have you walked, peed, pooped, or had sex today? Appreciate those healthy pelvic functions! True health is a unity of structure and purpose.