Do You Have a Strong Pelvic Floor? Here's How to Test It

Symptoms of a Weak Pelvic Floor

When your pelvic floor muscles aren't up to snuff, they won't be able to perform the essential functions above. As a result, you'll likely feel as if something's amiss.

Here are some common symptoms of a weak pelvic floor, per Wright:

  • Accidentally leaking urine when you exercise, cough, sneeze or laugh
  • Having a strong urgency to urinate and not making it to the bathroom in time
  • Needing to urinate frequently (8+ times/day and/or more than once overnight)
  • A feeling of heaviness, drooping, bulging or discomfort in the vagina or rectum
  • Pain in the pelvic area and/or discomfort during sexual intercourse

How to Test if Your Pelvic Floor Muscles Are Strong

"Pelvic floor muscle strength is most accurately assessed with an internal vaginal examination conducted by a licensed physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health," Wright says.

However, there are two tests you can do at home to glean a general idea of your pelvic floor's muscle power.

How to Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

If you think your pelvic floor may be weak, Wright recommends trying one of the following pelvic floor-strengthening exercises:

When Should You See a Pelvic Health Physical Therapist?

While home exercises can be helpful, they're also notoriously easy to mess up. Many people mistakenly squeeze the wrong muscles — like their abs or glutes — instead of their pelvic floor.

That's why if you suspect your pelvic floor is weak, it's best to see a pelvic health specialist who can make sure you're performing the exercises correctly.

"Pelvic health physical therapists have advanced training in treating conditions such as incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, pregnancy/postpartum exercise, pregnancy-related pain, diastasis rectus abdominis, painful intercourse and pelvic pain conditions," Wright says. As specialists, they can properly assess your issue and develop an individualized treatment plan.

"Additionally, if you've had only partial success with physical therapy for other conditions, such as chronic low back pain, hip pain, hip adductor/ hamstring strain or coccydynia," it's quite possible that a weak pelvic floor may be — in part — to blame, Wright says. In this case, once again, consulting with a pelvic health physical therapist might be a good idea.

Tip

Need help locating a pelvic floor specialist? Resources like PelvicRehab.com and the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy can help you find a qualified pelvic health therapist in your area.

Read more on: livestrong