When people say “the pelvic floor”, they are usually referring to the whole system of muscles, nerves, ligaments, and organs. Today we are going to go over the muscles that make up the pelvic floor!
The pelvic floor is made up of 19 muscles (you might hear 17 depending on how an individual counts them). Either way, that’s a BIG number! To better understand how there can be so many muscles in a small surface area of your body, let’s take a look at the image below…
MyPFM website is a fantastic resource to go learn more about a WIDE variety of pelvic floor topics/dysfunctions. I would highly recommend anyone checking out their website and YouTube since when they explain things in such an easy way to understand.
So looking at the picture above you can see how intricately the muscles are designed for the pelvic floor. There is a very superficial layer, a mid layer, and then the deep layer. Each layer has roles and functions that support the pelvic floor as a unit to perform it’s 5 Basic Roles (as discussed the blog before this 😉
The pelvic floor muscle layer 1 gives support to the sex organ clitoris/crus penis, and offers the compressive role to the anus and urethra (think pee & poo exiting control). Whenever you are consciously trying hold back urine or poo – those are muscles contracting to help compress the opening. Also when a penis or clitoris “erects” those are muscles assisting in keeping the organs erect. Obviously when muscles weaken or become too tight – this can create problems with either holding back urine/poo or maintaining an erection. Which you can see where those are pretty big, personal problems to have in life…
Looking at the deep layer of the pelvic floor- these are quite important. The levator ani muscle group and deep transverse perineal muscle. These muscles are really important for the function of the pelvic floor, and being at the deepest layer – can be difficult to assess. They are also really hard to “feel” activate. This is where having a specialized pelvic floor physical therapist is such an important key to rehabilitation and recovery.
Muscles function pretty similarly no matter part of the body they are on. Obviously there are exceptions, and special circumstances. However they contract, relax, can be voluntary and involuntary.
Next up we will be covering the nervous system and how that can interact with the muscles! So stay tuned for more.