Let’s get our anatomy knowledge up to speed!
The pelvic floor is a really logical name. It is the floor of the pelvis! The pelvis is made up of three sections of bones – the sacrum (the base of the spine) and the two pelvic bones on either side. These are a fusion of three bones called the ilium, ischium and pubis. They attach to the sacrum at the back and join together at the front, at the pubic symphysis. These bones are what you often refer to as your hips, and when you put your hands on your hips, you are resting them on the tops of the iliums, on the iliac crest.
At the top of the pelvic area is the diaphragm. This is the muscle that separates the chest area from the abdomen and assists in breathing. It can be considered as the roof of the pelvic area.
At the bottom of the pelvic area is the pelvic floor. This is the group of muscles that support the internal organs, such as the bladder and bowels (and the womb, in women). These muscles work both automatically and under conscious control. They help to keep your bladder and bowels working well, and stop you leaking urine or faeces when you don’t want to. They also relax when you need them to, to allow for bladder and bowel emptying.
The pelvic floor is very similar in men and women. The main difference is that women have a third opening in the pelvic floor muscles, where the vagina is.
The best way for men to identify their pelvic floor muscles is to try the following:
- First, tighten (squeeze) the muscles around the back passage, as if you’re trying to stop yourself from passing wind. While you hold this squeeze, try to tighten your muscles in such a way as you would if you were trying to stop yourself from passing urine. You should feel a “squeeze and lift” inside.
- If you are standing in front of a mirror, without your clothes on, you should see the base of your penis dip down (pull back) and your scrotum lift up.
- Good ways to remember the move are to think of “nuts to guts” or “testicles to spectacles”. After each “squeeze and lift”, make sure that you fully relax your muscles by letting them rest back to their starting level.