If you were asked to come up with a list of muscles in the human body you might start with the ones you are most familiar with. Many of us learned about the muscles in the leg or arms when we were school and it if someone asked you what they were you might be able to give an answer. If someone questioned you by asking you would probably know that your quadriceps and hamstrings are two of the muscles in your legs. If you were asked about the location of your triceps or biceps you would know that these muscles are in the arms. These are some of the muscles we grew up learning about, but we probably didn’t learn about our pelvic floor muscles. This muscle group is often neglected and many people don’t know about them unless they have had medical issues that created a need for them to go to pelvic floor therapy.
What are Pelvic Floor Muscles?
The vast majority of people are unaware that the pelvic floor is a funnel-shaped structure that supports the pelvic organs and works to maintain parts the urinary and anal sphincters. When women give birth, the pelvic floor works to create a movement of the fetus towards the pelvic girdle by resisting the descent of the presenting part and causes the baby to rotate forward which results in most babies being born head first. Men also have a pelvic floor, but the anatomy is slightly different.
What are the Muscles that make Up the Pelvic Floor?
There are three groups of muscles in the pelvic floor. The pelvic diaphragm consists of several muscles including the: levatorani (which include the Puborectalis, Pubococcygeus) the Coccygeus. The urogenital diaphragm consists of the Deep transverse perineal, the sphincter urethrae, pisiform is and the perineal membrane. The third group is the sphincters muscles of the urogenital and intestinal tract which consist of the External anal sphincter, Bulbospongiosus, Ischiocavernosus, Superficial transverse perineal. The perineal body is another part of the pelvic floor.
What Do These Muscles Do?
Pelvic floor muscles provide support for the organs for the organs that are in it. When the muscles are contracted, the organs are lifted and the sphincters tighten the openings of the vagina, anus, and urethra. When the muscles are relaxed, they allow urine and feces to pass through. The sphincters help control to bladder and bowel which help control the release of urine, bowel movements, and flatus and allow us to delay voiding until when needed.
These muscles also work to stabilize and support the spine by working with the back and abdominal muscles.
When men and women have sex the muscles work to assist in this process. It helps with erectile function and ejaculation in men. With women, it helps with contractions of the pelvic floor that contribute to physical arousal.