Symptoms of a weak pelvic floor and a Self Check Test

Symptoms of a weak pelvic floor: 

The symptoms of a weakened pelvic floor include:

  • leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or running
  • failing to reach the toilet in time
  • passing wind from either the anus or vagina when bending over or lifting
  • reduced sensation in the vagina
  • tampons that dislodge or fall out
  • a distinct bulge at the vaginal opening
  • a sensation of heaviness in the vagina.

Causes of a weak pelvic floor

The pelvic floor can be weakened by:

  • supporting the weight of the uterus during pregnancy
  • vaginal childbirth, which may overstretch the muscles
  • the pressure of obesity
  • chronic constipation and straining to poo
  • constant coughing
  • some forms of surgery that require cutting the muscles (including prostate cancer treatment in males)
  • lower levels of oestrogen after menopause.

Pelvic Floor Self check Test

Before you start pelvic floor physical therapy, perform a self check test to evaluate whether your pelvic floor muscles are weak: 

  1. Engage your pelvic floor as you were wrapping around a tampon simultaneously squeezing your perineum muscles. Hold this engagement and record how many seconds you can hold it for. 
  2. Secondly, engage your pelvic floor muscles, like suggested in the previous test and hold the engagement for 5 sec, repeat 10 times.  Using a 5 second rest interval, how many “reps” can you achieve before there is a significant diminishment of strength?

Healthy Pelvic Floor Experience : 

1. Can contract (elevate), relax and bulge

2. Symmetry is present (anterior-posterior, and left-right)

3. Can sense superficial and deep layer contraction

4. Can feel sensation intact on both sides (bilaterally activation)

5. Both tonic 10 second hold, and phasic 1-2 second rapid contractions

6. Both motor control and automatic activations