74 Brochures Health Education
Tabled Paper 2134
Tabled Papers for 6th Assembly 1990 - 1994; Tabled Papers; ParliamentNT
Tabled by Mike Reed
Made available by the Legislative Assembly of the Northern Territory under Standing Order 240. Where copyright subsists with a third party it remains with the original owner and permission may be required to reuse the material.
A , % What Is The Pelvic Floor? The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscle stretching like a hammock from the pubic bone ( in the front) to the end of the backbone. (se e diagram 1) These muscles hold the bladder, uterus and bowel in place. The muscle sheet has three openings for: Diagram 2 M uscle fibres circle around these openings forming sphincters, which act like valves, e.g. the urinary sphincter stops and starts the flow of urine. Diagram 3 The m uscles form a figure 8 around these three openings How Does the Pelvic Floor Work? Ideally the muscle floor is a firm supportive hammock forming a straight line from the pubic bone to the end of the backbone, (see diagram 4) T he contraction of the pelvic floor is a combination of several movements of different muscles. The muscles at the side of the pelvic floor move up and in, causing a squeezing and lifting effect. The muscles are always slightly tense and the sphincters are normally closed. When you pass urine or faeces (bowel movement), the muscle floor relaxes and the sphincter opens. Afterwards, the muscles contract again and the sphincters close. T h e se muscles can be tensed or relaxed at will e.g. gripping a partner's fingers or penis during sexual excitement relaxing muscles for a vaginal examination. Diagram 4 Good pelv ic floor support with a firm base, organs in place Why Do Pelvic Floor Exercises? A healthy active pelvic floor has a normal firmness which responds to stretch and movement, (see diagram 4) W eakness or injury, due to lack of exercise, childbirth or the ageing process causes the pelvic floor to sag. (see diagram 5) Diagram 5 Inadequate support and the hammock sags, contents descend. This may result in one or more of the following conditions loose vaginal walls, prolapse of the uterus, constipation, incomplete emptying of the bladder, leaking of urine under pressure (e.g. coughing, sneezing, laughing) and other problems.