Welcome to the pelvic floor.
There are small differences between male and female pelvic floors, but there are many similarities. Over the next few posts, we will walk through the three muscular layers of the pelvic floor and some neighboring muscles. There will be diagrams for both male and female that are schematic for what I hope is an easy to understand, non-super graphic depiction for easy review and/or education for those who are being introduced to their pelvic floors.
While there is much to say about the pelvic floor in terms of dysfunction, first we need to start with its function. What I love about the pelvic floor is how complex it is, and how many areas of our lives it affects on a regular basis.
Not only is a a layered system of muscles, fascia and nerves, but it also relates directly with the urinary system, the gastrointestinal system, the reproductive system, the sexual health system, the hip complex, and the spine as a whole postural/functional thing. Furthermore it has epic cultural and memory stores. Then environment and experiences we live through often embed themselves into our somatic relationship, our embodiment of our pelvis. In yoga we might talk about mula bandha or chakra correlations. In pilates it might be incorporated into the core (we’ll get into that whole pandora’s box later).
The functions of the pelvic floor are 3 fold:
1) Sphincteric: closing off the outlets so that we maintain continence (urinary and fecal).
2) Supportive: providing a hugging action to the pelvic organs, and a dome at the open end of the pelvis that coordinates the diaphragm to hand off the pressures of the lungs and abdomen.
3) Sexual: allowing for penetration or providing the means to penetrate comfortably and successfully for pleasure and procreation.