This page aims to provide resources that improve women’s knowledge about the importance of maintaining a healthy pelvic floor throughout their lives, and increase awareness of pelvic floor dysfunction.
Follow the links below to access information about the prevention of and different treatment options for pelvic floor dysfunction. These resources aim to:
- improve education on the importance of maintaining a healthy pelvic floor throughout women's reproductive life cycle, and
- support women to have informed conversations about their pelvic floor health with healthcare professionals.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is a structure made up of layers of muscles which supports the organs within the pelvis: the bladder, bowel and uterus. This structure helps maintain the normal function of the bladder and bowel, preventing unexpected leakage and passing of wind. Strengthening and maintaining a healthy pelvic floor can also maintain sexual function.
Looking after pelvic floor health helps to prevent pelvic floor dysfunction developing. We want to equip women with the knowledge to strengthen their pelvic floor. Taking preventative action like doing regular pelvic exercises can reduce the chance of developing symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.
What is pelvic floor dysfunction?
The organs within a woman’s pelvis are normally held in place by ligaments and muscles called the pelvic floor. If these muscles come under strain and/or weaken, this can lead difficulties controlling the bladder or bowel, such as urinary incontinence, bowel incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.
All women and girls should be informed about the benefits of maintaining a healthy pelvic floor from an early age, with a focus on using pelvic floor exercises to prevent the onset of pelvic floor dysfunction. The RCOG is working with the NHS and policy makers to increase understanding of pelvic floor health.
Read our patient information leaflets on pelvic floor health
Pelvic floor dysfunction
Pelvic floor health during pregnancy
Pelvic floor health around the menopause
Symptoms can happen at any age, but especially around pregnancy and childbirth, and later in life (around the menopause). Possible symptoms include:
- Problems controlling the bladder, such as unexpected leakage of urine, feeling the need to pass urine more frequently or urgently, or difficulty passing urine
- Leaking urine when coughing, laughing, sneezing, or lifting heavy objects
- Difficulty controlling the bowel, such as passing wind unexpectedly or unexpected leakage of faeces
- Pelvic organ prolapse, where one or more of the organs in the pelvis bulge from their normal position into the vagina
- Frequent bladder infections
- Discomfort during sex
Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles around the bladder, bowel and uterus. This can help to prevent and improve common symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines recommend pelvic floor exercises as the first line of treatment for pelvic floor dysfunction, and also encourage all women and girls aged 12 and over to regularly do pelvic floor exercises.
International Urogynaecological Association
British Society of Urogynaecology (BSUG)
Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapy (POGP)
Bladder and Bowel UK
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