All about the Pelvic Floor

To "find" your Pelvic Floor muscles

Two ways to try:

  1. When urinating try to stop/reduce the flow midstream. Become aware of what this feels like – it is your pelvic floor muscles which do this. Once you know how to do this do not repeat during urination; repeated stops can increase the risk of urinary infections.
  2. In a sitting position lean forward and rest your elbows on your knees. Tighten your anus (back passage) and release.

Now sit a little more upright and tighten again. Feel the contraction come further forward under the pelvis.

Continue in this way until sitting upright and visualise the contraction as a zip starting at your tail bone and coming right up to your rib cage.

Practice this contraction regularly through the day (eg when washing hands) feeling as though you are trying to pull up and inwards. We will practice variations in class. If you currently experience urine leakage general advice is that it may take around 6 weeks of pelvic floor exercises to make a noticeable difference. If this does not occur it is likely that your leakage may not be remedied with pelvic floor exercises alone and you should discuss the issue with your doctor.

Urge/Latch Key Incontinence or General Leakage?

Urge or Latch Key incontinence is when there is a sudden and immediate need to urinate. Often there will be a small leakage and the urge will pass, despite there being urine still in the bladder.
This is often caused by irritant foods and it may be worth excluding likely culprits from the list below for two weeks and seeing if control improves.

Foods that may irritate your bladder

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Fruit juices
  • Carbonated drinks
  • Tomatoes
  • Citrus - especially grapefruit and lemon
  • Spicy food
  • Artificial sweeteners – aspartame, saccharin
  • chocolate

Pelvic floor exercises should still be done to ensure as much control as possible is maintained.

If general leakage is caused by weak pelvic floor muscles it may be helped or completely remedied by performing pelvic floor exercises (PFE) to strengthen and improve the responsiveness of the muscles which control bladder evacuation.

If no noticeable improvement has occurred after 6 weeks of PFE your GP should be consulted about other possible causes of incontinence.