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These muscles must be able to contract to maintain continence, and to relax allowing for urination and bowel movements, and for sexual intercourse as well as for giving birth. They also support and protect the organs of the abdomen and hold the bladder in its proper place.
The pelvic muscles can become stretched or weakened due to ageing and more specifically due to pregnancy. This often happens after a difficult childbirth which overstretches or tears the pelvic muscles and can also be the result of giving birth to several babies within a very short time span. Their under use can also cause pelvic floor weakness. Like for any other muscle, pelvic muscles need exercise to work well. In the same vein, the change in hormones related to menopause could weaken these muscles, as well as damage caused through long term straining, chronic constipation or cough or overweight.
Vaginal tightening can be achieved in different ways, all effective in their own way and can be complementary.
The pelvic floor muscles, region of the body called the perineum, is a group of muscles and ligaments. Its main muscle is the Pubococcygeus muscle or PC muscle. It is a hammock-like muscle, found in both sexes, that stretches from the pubic bone to the coccyx (tail bone) forming the floor of the pelvic cavity and supporting the pelvic organs.
This set of muscles, also known as the muscles of the perineum, forms the floor of the pelvic cavity and supports the pelvic organs such as the bladder, uterus and colon and intestine.
These muscles act like a rubber band, they need to be tense but neither too tight to avoid pelvic floor muscle disorder nor too loose, because in both cases they will lose the right degree of elasticity and therefore their main function and could potentially create a pelvic floor dysfunction.
Pelvic floor dysfunctions may include any of a group of clinical conditions that includes urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, sensory and emptying abnormalities of the lower urinary tract, defecatory dysfunction, sexual dysfunction and several chronic pain syndromes, including vulvodynia. The three most common and definable conditions encountered clinically are urinary incontinence, anal incontinence and pelvic female genital prolapse.
For example, when the pelvic muscles have too much tension (hypertonic) they will often cause pelvic pain, or urgency and frequency of the bladder and bowels. When they are low-tone (hypotonic) they will contribute to stress incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. You can also have a combination of muscles that are too tense and too relaxed.
Symptoms of hypertonic pelvic muscles:
- Urinary frequency, urgency, hesitancy, stopping and starting of the urine stream, painful urination, or incomplete emptying
- Constipation, straining, pain during or after bowel movements
- Unexplained pain in your low back, pelvic region, hips, genital area, or rectum
- Pain during or after intercourse, orgasm, or sexual stimulation
- Uncoordinated muscle contractions causing the pelvic floor muscles to spasm
Symptoms of hypotonic pelvic muscles:
- Pelvic floor physiotherapy: Continence and women's health or pelvic floor physiotherapists hold post graduate qualifications specialising in pelvic floor muscle training. They can assess a patient's pelvic floor function and tailor an exercise program to meet its specific needs. They can also prescribe other treatment options such lifestyle modification and biofeedback.
- Vaginoplasty: Vaginoplasty is a reconstructive plastic surgery and cosmetic procedure for the vaginal canal and its mucous membrane, and of vulvovaginal structures that might be absent or damaged because of congenital disease (e.g. vaginal hypoplasia) or because of an acquired cause (e.g. childbirth physical trauma, cancer).
- Vaginal rejuvenation: A "vaginal rejuvenation" is a non-reconstructive vaginoplasty that restores the muscle tone and desired aesthetic of the vagina, by removing external tissues and tightening the supportive structures of the vulvovaginal complex, in an effort either to reduce or to reverse the effects of aging and parturition (childbearing). The advantages may be increased comfort and an improved self-image (mental health); the potential disadvantages are decreased clitoral and genital sensation, and complications, such as infection, tissue adhesions, and scarring.
- Kegel exercise: Pelvic floor exercise, or Kegel exercise, consists of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form part of the pelvic floor, now sometimes colloquially referred to as the "Kegel muscles".
- Yoga, Pilates: Other forms of exercise also help to tighten the pelvic muscles, like yoga and pilates, as these all incorporate working on the pelvic floor muscle and strengthening the core muscles which together will help keep the participants' pelvic floor muscles tighter.
- Orgasm: An orgasm is the sudden discharge of accumulated sexual tension during the sexual response cycle, resulting in rhythmic muscular contractions in the pelvic region that will tone the pelvic muscles. As pelvic floor muscles become stronger, so will the orgasms.
- A Healthy diet: To keep the pelvic muscles strong, it is also needed to feed the muscles properly daily to ensure its correct growth and repair.
- Pelvic toning devices: A pelvic toning device, also referred to as a Kegel exerciser, pelvic floor toner, pelvic floor muscle toner or pelvic toner, pelvic floor stimulator, pelvic exercisers, pelvic device, pelvic floor exerciser, is a medical or pseudo-medical device designed to help women exercise their pelvic floor muscles and improve the muscle tone of the pubococcygeus or vaginal muscle.
Pelvic toning devices fall into a number of different types:
- Electrical muscle stimulation: Electrostimulation or electrical muscle stimulation triggers muscle contractions using electric impulses, through an internal vaginal probe, to train the perineal muscles with no pain and no special efforts, while doing it by yourself at home and adapting the intensity of the electric impulses at will.
- Biofeedback devices are designed to help women exercise their pelvic floor muscles and improve their vaginal muscle tone. This method involves placing a sensor, also known as an electrode or probe into the vagina. The vaginal probe, connected to a visual and/or sound system, lets the user see and/or hear the contraction. According to the colour of the light or the intensity of the sound, they will know whether the muscular contraction is done properly or not. The biofeedback allows the user to correct the contraction while doing the exercises, as well as allowing them to gradually increase the effort and duration, this is why they are called pelvic floor trainers, pelvic muscle trainers, pelvic trainers.
- Barbells, vaginal weights or cones designed to be held in the vagina. The action of passively/actively retaining the device internally improves muscle tone.
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