Frequently asked questions about pelvic floor muscles

Where are the pelvic floor muscles located?  

The pelvic floor muscles consist of three layers of muscles that cover the bottom of the pelvis. They sling from your pubic bone in the front to your tailbone in the back. They also sling from right to left attaching to your sit bones on either side (the boney part of your bottom). Think of these muscles as a trampoline at the bottom of your pelvis. 

What are the functions of the pelvic floor muscles?  

  • The pelvic floor muscles have several important roles:  
  • Provide support to the pelvic organs including the bladder and rectum  
  • Aid in helping us maintain continence so that we do not leak urine or stool  
  • Play a role in sexual function and arousal  
  • Assist in core stability and postural control  

What is the role of the pelvic floor muscles with breathing?  

The diaphragm (our main breathing muscle), lives below the lobes of our lungs in an umbrella shaped position. As we breathe in to allow oxygen into our lungs, the diaphragm flattens out (or drops down). Our abdominal and pelvic organs accept this pressure downward, which then causes our pelvic floor muscles to relax and lengthen a little bit. As we breathe out, the diaphragm returns to its resting position (umbrella shape), and the pelvic floor muscles returns to its resting position. Essentially the pelvic floor muscles and diaphragm have a piston-type relationship with our breathing.

What if I or someone I care for needs pelvic floor physical therapy and has an intellectual, developmental, or physical disability?

All patients are welcome at Nebraska Medicine. Patients with developmental, intellectual, and physical disabilities may choose to benefit from evaluation and treatment with our collaborator Anne Woodruff Jameson, PT, DPT, at UNMC’s Munroe-Meyer Institute. Anne is a trained pediatric and pelvic floor physical therapist with a history of evaluating and treating youth, adolescents, and adults with disabilities. She has a treatment space that is fully accessible to patients using all types of mobility aids. Please refer to this flyer or call 402.559.6415 for more information.

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