What does your bladder do? How does it relate to your pelvic floor muscles? What happens with pelvic floor weakness?
Such great questions and very common ones. Let’s start with your bladder….
Your bladder if under the age of 70 should store 350ml to 500ml of urine and will send a stretch message to your brain when your bladder is full.
The bladder is a muscular pump sitting behind your pubic bone and shaped a little like a water balloon. Your kidneys feed urine into your bladder and your bladder empties out via a tube called your urethra. Your urethra has a sphincter on the end of it which is a little like a clamp. The bladder muscles itself is called the detrusor muscle.
Once your brain gets the message that your bladder is full, your pelvic floor muscles and your urethral sphincter (clamp) relax, then it’s your bladder’s job as a muscle (detrusor) to pump out the urine by contracting.
Your pelvic floor then contracts and the outlet is closed (meaning no urine escapes out), allowing your bladder to relax and refill as you go about your day.
So basically it’s your pelvic floor muscles that tell your bladder when to pump and when to relax.
So what happens with pelvic floor weakness or if your pelvic floor muscles have lost some of their strength?
Your pelvic floor might lose control over the bladder and it may start contracting whenever it wants, known as “urgency” or some leakage may start to occur. Particularly with movements that are high intensity like jumping or a high intra-abdominal pressure like coughing and sneezing etc.
Essentially you want to have a strong pelvic floor to be able to contract your muscles but also know how to relax them to allow the normal bodily functions to occur. That’s where we have our endurance based exercises as part of our PPF programs and our control section of the exercises. To allow you to build your awareness and strength in both turning on and turning off your pelvic floor muscles. Learn More
- Never strain to empty your bladder or push on your stomach, just relax your pelvic floor and your abdominals allowing your urine to flow out easily.
- Sit on the toilet, with your feet just under you, on your toes allowing your body to learn forward slightly. This position helps with both bladder and bowel movements adjusting to the position of gravity.
- Drink enough water to stay hydrated, .033 X your body weight for a rough estimate in litres/day and more if you are exercising or breastfeeding.
- Caffeine can be an irritant to your bladder – minimise the amount you have per day (that includes caffeinated tea)
- Alcohol is a diuretic, a bladder irritant and a muscle relaxant which will make frequency or urgency issues worse. Reduce or avoid if possible.
- Stop doing the “just in case visits” to the bathroom, only go when you get the sensation your bladder is full.
- Only encourage your daughters to urinate when they need to.
Womens’ Waterworks by Dr Pauline Chiarelli
Pelvic Floor Essentials by Sue Croft
Wondering if your pelvic floor is weak?
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