An Unfiltered Look at the Pelvic Floor

Welcome to P.volve Unfiltered—your space for real talk, not girl talk. Throughout the month and beyond, we’ll talk all things female body: orgasms, periods, boobs, the pelvic floor and so much more. Best part is we’re doing it in the most honest, raw way so that you can get the answers to your burning questions (we can talk burning, too!) to better understand your body and your health with a team of experts on our side.

It's time we get to the bottom of something most women probably don't think about as often as they should: the pelvic floor. Yep, that's the bottom we're talking about.

You might have heard your doctor or a P.volve trainer mention the group of muscles that lives somewhere down there. But in order to really feel it in action, we first have to understand its purpose and its function. Below, Sex and Relationship Therapist Carli Blau goes deep on the pelvic floor:

What’s the #1 thing women in their 20s, 30s and beyond should know about their pelvic floor?

The #1 thing women of all ages need to know about the pelvic floor is that each woman’s pelvic floor is unique. Unless there is pain, women are often not educated about their pelvic floor, what it is or what it does.

There are two types of pelvic floors: hypertonic and hypotonic. If the pelvic floor is hypertonic, it means the pelvic floor muscles are too tight, which can lead to physical discomfort including sexual dysfunction. If it is hypotonic the pelvic floor muscles are too loose, which often occur post childbirth, specifically vaginal birth. This does not mean that every woman who has delivered vaginally will experience a “loose pelvic floor” but it does mean that if a woman does have a hypotonic pelvic floor, there are exercises and physical therapy that can help restore proper pelvic floor functioning. Women deserve to know the implications for these different types of pelvic floors and how they can impact them.

What is the biggest misconception about the pelvic floor?

The biggest misconception about the pelvic floor is that everyone’s pelvic floor needs to be tighter and that if you have a really strong pelvic floor, your orgasm is going to be amazing. This isn’t necessarily the case, because for some women who have a really, really tight pelvic floor (or hypertonic pelvic floor dysfunction), the tightness of the pelvic floor can cause a difficulty with orgasming as well as painful sex. 

How do I know what kind of pelvic floor I have?

A pelvic floor therapist can do a pelvic floor evaluation. Knowing what kind of pelvic floor you have can help you choose what kind of exercises will be best for you. For a lot of women who focus on strengthening their core in workouts, it’s very important to know about their pelvic floor because then you know if you’re strengthening your body, or if you’re providing too much strength that can work against you. 

If you’re feeling any type of discomfort—pelvic pain, groin pain, if sex is painful for you, incontinence or a hard time peeing—I strongly suggest you have a pelvic floor examination done to rule out pelvic floor dysfunction. If you’re someone who works out often and working out is a major part of your routine, it could just be great for you to know what kind of pelvic floor you’re working with.

Why should women think about engaging their pelvic floor just as much as they engage their glute muscles during workouts? 

The pelvic floor and your core are the foundation of your body— it’s your rock, it’s what supports your body and it’s your body’s center of stability. So, you may want toned glutes (and I don’t blame you! ) but if you don’t value the foundation of your body, eventually the stronger parts of your body will wear on the rest because the base is not strong enough to withhold its entirety. 

I’d also add that the pelvic floor and core give you strength to work on these other parts of your body better—your glute muscles, your legs, your arms. Without a strong core and pelvic floor, it’s really hard to optimize the rest of these muscles without a strong core and foundation. 

How can women safely make pelvic floor health a priority in their workout routine?

Too much of a good thing is still too much. You can engage in spinning or running, but incorporating your pelvic floor in other workouts like P.volve can be a great way to supplement for the workouts that don’t use your pelvic floor as much.

MEET CARLI 

LMSW, M.Ed., M.A., Ph.D. Candidate in Clinical Sex Therapy 

Carli Blau is a Licensed Sex and Relationship Therapist who specializes in women’s health including infertility, endometriosis, and PCOS. She is certified in Maternal Mental Health, received her Master’s of Social Work from Columbia University, a Master of Education in Human Sexuality from Widener University, and is currently working on her Ph.D. in Clinical Sex Therapy studying infertility and sexual esteem in women trying to conceive. 

Get started with our Pelvic Floor Strengthening Program, now available on demand. For more from P.volve Unfiltered, check out the women's wellness section on our blog or get started with our workouts with a 14-day free trial.