A simple guide to boosting pelvic floor strength and confidence as you age

Remember, it's never too late to start caring for your pelvic floor. Source: Getty Images.

If you’ve noticed changes in your pelvic floor with age, rest assured, you’re not alone.

In fact, nearly 10 per cent of Australian men and up to 38 per cent of Australian women experience urinary incontinence, contributing to feelings of social anxiety due to awkwardness, embarrassment, and stress.

It’s time to break the silence surrounding this common issue! Lack of open discussions and understanding about pelvic floor health has unfortunately kept many from addressing related concerns.

But here’s the good news: targeted exercises for your pelvic floor can provide effective relief for various issues, from prolapse to bladder or bowel leakage, and even constipation.

Embark on your journey to pelvic floor improvement with our comprehensive guide, addressing everything you need to know, while dispelling common myths. It’s time to uplift and support your pelvic well-being!

What is your pelvic floor?

Pelvic floor muscles give us control over our bladder and bowel. They are the layer of muscles that support the pelvic organs and span the bottom of the pelvis.

Weakened pelvic floor muscles mean the internal organs are not fully supported and you may have difficulty controlling the release of urine, faeces, or even wind.

A weakened pelvic floor can be caused by childbirth, obesity, and straining from chronic constipation.

The pelvic floor muscles stretch like a band from the tailbone (coccyx) to the pubic bone (front to back) and from one sitting bone to the other sitting bone (side to side). These muscles are normally firm and thick but can wear over time, which may be why you are experiencing the aforementioned issues.

How to find your pelvic floor

Whilst reading all of this, you might be wondering how to find and engage your pelvic floor.

To find it and get the most out of these exercises, simply sit upright on a firm chair or on an exercise ball. Then, lean forward and support your upper body by placing your hand close to your knees.

Next, squeeze in like you are holding in a wee, then release. These are pelvic floor exercises and involve repeatedly contracting and then relaxing the pelvic floor muscles around the anus, vagina and urethra (urine tube).

These exercises should not feel uncomfortable, though if you do feel discomfort, you should see your doctor.

Getting the technique right is the most important part of the pelvic floor muscle exercises.

5 tips to start strengthening your pelvic floor muscles

  1. Imagine letting go like you would to pass urine or to pass wind. Let your stomach muscles relax and see if you can squeeze in and hold the muscles inside the pelvis while you breathe.
  2. Try tightening your muscles really gently to feel just the pelvic floor muscles lifting and squeezing in.
  3. Try holding the inward squeeze for longer (up to 10 seconds) before relaxing.
  4. Try to strengthen against everyday forces that can weaken your pelvic floor like coughing, sneezing or laughing.
  5. Perform 1-3 sets of pelvic floor exercises every day – the best part is you can do it anywhere!

Common myths about pelvic floor

Pelvic floor muscle exercises don’t work

Research shows that pelvic floor muscle exercises are effective for some types of incontinence such as stress incontinence and/or an overactive bladder causing urge incontinence. They can also help faecal incontinence when the cause of the problem is a weak pelvic floor, says the Continence Foundation.

Pelvic floor muscle exercises are effective when the exercises are done correctly and when taught and supervised by a physiotherapist who specialises in continence and women’s health.

I’m too old for pelvic floor muscle exercises

This is false! Age is no barrier to the benefits of pelvic floor muscle exercises. You can definitely see a vast improvement in your pelvic floor strength at any age if done correctly.

I had babies years ago, the damage is done

Even if you had your last child 30 years ago, you can still benefit from pelvic floor exercises to reduce incontinence issues.

I can’t sit on the floor so I can’t do the exercises

These exercises can be done in any position and can even be done standing up!

Taking the time to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles is a powerful investment in your overall well-being and quality of life. By incorporating targeted exercises into your daily routine, you can experience a range of benefits, particularly improved bladder control.

Remember, it’s never too late to start caring for your pelvic floor and empower yourself to lead a life of strength, confidence, and vitality.

This article was originally published on February 15, 2018, information was updated on January 4, 2024.


IMPORTANT LEGAL INFO This article is of a general nature and FYI only, because it doesn’t take into account your personal health requirements or existing medical conditions. That means it’s not personalised health advice and shouldn’t be relied upon as if it is. Before making a health-related decision, you should work out if the info is appropriate for your situation and get professional medical advice.

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