Women’s Pelvic Floor 101

You may have heard the term pelvic floor from a health practitioner, in an exercise class or in health articles and may not really be sure what the pelvic floor is and why it matters so much. Here’s a brief 101 on the pelvic floor, why it’s an important, yet forgotten part of women’s bodies and what you can do to support pelvic floor health.

What is the “pelvic floor”?

The pelvic floor consists of the muscles, ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues that support the bladder and rectum, as well as the uterus and vagina. The pelvic floor muscles are like a hammock, connecting to the pubic bone in front, to the tailbone in the back and from side-to-side between the sit bones.

Pelvic floor muscles help:

  • control your bladder and bowel,
  • provide stability and support to your spine and pelvis,
  • keep the pelvic organs in place and
  • play a role in sexual health

Why should I be concerned about my pelvic floor?

Pelvic floor issues are common among women and include:

  • Urinary leakage or incontinence
  • Chronic bladder or vaginal infections
  • Pelvic organ prolapse (bladder, uterus)
  • Pelvic pain (associated with pregnancy, labour, trauma)
  • Painful sexual activity, intercourse or sexual dysfunction
  • Postpartum concerns and recovery
  • Pelvic muscle weakness or tension

While these concerns may be common, many women are unaware or reluctant to seek help for them, often thinking that their concerns may be expected or “normal” as a result of childbirth or age.

It is also a common myth that Kegel exercises are the cure for every pelvic floor dysfunction. Kegels may not be right for everyone since not all pelvic floor dysfunction is due to muscle weakness, and in fact can be due to muscles that are too tight. When muscles are tight, trying to do exercises aimed at strengthening those already tight muscles isn’t going to help.

What if I have symptoms or a known pelvic floor dysfunction? What if I want to prevent pelvic floor issues?

Know that you’re not alone in experiencing pelvic floor dysfunction and know that there is professional support to help with your concerns or with pelvic wellness. Consider seeing Dr. Haarsma for Holistic Pelvic CareTM (information below), or a pelvic floor physiotherapist, to assess and address your pelvic floor health.

Holistic Pelvic Care

What is Holistic Pelvic CareTM?

Holistic Pelvic CareTM is a gentle form of internal pelvic bodywork developed by Tami Kent, a women’s health physical therapist. Holistic Pelvic CareTM was designed to assess and restore balance to a woman’s pelvic space. Just as other muscles of the body can become tightened, stressed and imbalanced from overwork, the muscles of the pelvic floor also become imbalanced from stress, illness or trauma.

Holistic Pelvic CareTM combines traditional physical medicine practices of addressing pelvic floor imbalance through gentle, respectful intravaginal massage along with education, body awareness exercises, lifestyle changes, visualization and breath work. These integrative techniques help create a deeper understanding of health and restore balance in a woman’s pelvis.

Who can benefit from Holistic Pelvic CareTM?

 Women benefit from Holistic Pelvic CareTM whether it is part of any transition including preconception wellness, postpartum healing, the journey into menopause, general women’s wellness or for healing a specific concern.

Specific concerns addressed by Holistic Pelvic CareTM include (but are not limited to):

  • Urinary leakage or incontinence
  • Chronic bladder or vaginal infections
  • Uterine prolapse
  • Pelvic pain
  • Painful sexual activity, intercourse or sexual dysfunction
  • Fertility support and pregnancy preparation
  • Healing after miscarriage, pregnancy loss or abortion
  • Postpartum concerns and recovery
  • Menstrual pain
  • Pelvic congestion, heaviness or instability
  • Pelvic muscle weakness
  • Menopausal concerns
  • History of pelvic trauma or abuse

What can I expect from a Holistic Pelvic CareTM appointment?

The first appointment involves a review of your medical history and discussion of your goals for treatment. Female pelvic anatomy and muscles will be introduced and reviewed.  We will start with basic external work and, if you are comfortable, we may move on to internal work. Internal work begins with an assessment of a woman’s pelvic muscles for tone and strength as well as any areas of tension or trigger points. Based on the assessment, treatment may include intravaginal massage and trigger point therapy as well as breath work and visualization. Follow-up appointments are typically shorter once the initial goals have been determined and include a reassessment and treatment.


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