FUNCTIONS OF THE PELVIC FLOOR: Support, Sphincter, Sexual

When things go wrong in the most intimate parts of your body, women often suffer in silence. These dysfunctions often involve the pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is a forgotten, but important, system in your body. We want to empower you to connect with this part of your body. In this post, we are going to dive deeper so you have a better understanding what is going on “down there”, but not to worry, we will hold your hand every step of the way. To help us remember the main functions of this incredible structure we have simplified it to 3 S’s; Support, Sphincter, Sexual


The deepest layer of your pelvic floor is a hammock like structure that supports your intimate parts and other abdominal organs against gravity, this includes your bladder, bowel and womb. There are ligaments in-between that increase the stability of your pelvic floor. The pelvic floor forms part of your deep core that protects and stabilisers your trunk during functional movements. It provides support to maintain an upright posture.


The middle layer includes the sphincters. You have two important sphincters in your pelvic floor, one at the end of your pee pipe and one at the end of your poo pipe. They ensure you are continent or keep control of your bowel and bladder. When there is tightness of our pelvic floor muscles, we may have trouble emptying our bowels and bladder. When there is weakness of the pelvic floor muscles, we may have bowel or bladder incontinence. This is why we need to have a good balance of control and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles.


The most superficial layer is involved in our sexual functions, for sexual arousal and increasing blood flow to the area through rhythmic contractions and relaxation of the muscle group. The optimal function of the pelvic floor would be to tighten and relax, to enhance pleasure during intercourse. If the pelvic floor is too tight and unable to relax, this can cause pain and discomfort especially during initial penetration.

All the layers must work in sync for your pelvic floor to function optimally. In future posts we will explore different pelvic floor dysfunctions and how our specialised trained physiotherapists can assist you with any intimate concerns.

Tara Ruiters, BSc Physiotherapy UCT

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