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Advice on Living with Incontinence

Common Myths & Misconceptions About The Pelvic Floor

There are many misconceptions about the pelvic floor muscle and exercising it. Read on to discover fact from fiction.
Published by Jane Granger
Common Myths & Misconceptions About The Pelvic Floor

Only women have pelvic floors

Not true! Perhaps because of the well-known correlation between pregnancy, childbirth and the effects that can have on the pelvic floor that some people think only women have one.

The pelvic floor muscle – in men and women – is a sling of muscle that is attached to the coccyx (or tailbone) at the back and the pubic bone at the front. In both genders, this muscle supports the urethra, bladder bowel and rectum and in women, also supports the vagina and cervix.

As well as supporting the pelvic organs, it contracts and lifts up to aid the control of the bladder and the bowel.


It’s not possible for men to exercise their pelvic floor as women do.

The pelvic floor muscle in men and women performs the same tasks, so it makes sense that both can be exercised in the same way.

Find out more about pelvic floor exercises for men here, including how to locate the muscle, getting started and how many repetitions you should be aiming for each day.


My pelvic floor is ruined from having kids; there’s no point.

While it’s true that pregnancy and childbirth, especially vaginal births, can take a significant toll on the pelvic floor, the muscle does repair and can be exercised to become stronger, improving control and reducing leaks.

A strong pelvic floor has the added benefit of improving sexual pleasure for both partners during intercourse. You can read more about the role of the pelvic floor in your sex life in Point 4 of this Jean Hailes article


I’ve only had caesarean sections, so I don’t need to worry

While a vaginal delivery can damage the tissue of the pelvic floor muscle, that’s not the only reason your pelvic floor muscle loses its condition. Even the extra weight that’s associated with pregnancy can be enough for some women to start leaking, regardless of how their baby was born.

Other reasons can include:

  • Being overweight or obese
  • Repeated jarring from exercises like running, netball and high-impact aerobics classes
  • Continually lifting heavy weights, perhaps at work, the gym or from having toddlers at home
  • On-going straining from constipation
  • A hacking cough, usually associated with smoking

Even without these, like all muscles that aren’t regularly used, over time, they will weaken.


I can’t exercise

There are many reasons why people can’t partake in regular exercise activities. These include:

  • Being very elderly
  • Not having exercised for many years, even decades – and being very unfit
  • Having back, hip, knee or other joint problems
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Suffering from a chronic health condition, including arthritis or asthma
  • Mobility issues that prevent you from getting on and off the floor

But the good news is that pelvic floor exercises are gentle and can be done standing up, sitting in a chair or even lying in bed!

These exercises don’t require any special equipment, clothing or even sports shoes, and can easily to incorporate into your everyday routine – when you’re driving, waiting for the kettle to boil, watching TV or chatting on the phone.

You can find out more in this article,Ingraining A Pelvic Floor Muscle Workout into Your Daily Routine


I’ve tried pelvic floor exercises – and they don’t do anything.

Perhaps coupled with this myth is the one that pelvic floor exercises are easy to master because chances are, you’re not doing them correctly.

The other issue is remembering to perform them several times a day to be effective.

Poor technique or remembering to do them only once or twice a week is unlikely to reap the full benefits.

You can read about the correct technique here and even watch the instructional videos here. But if you’ve not noticed any improved after about six weeks of consistent exercise, then make an appointment with your doctor.

It could be that a weak pelvic floor is not the underlying cause of your incontinence, in which case the doctor will conduct further investigations to determine what is.

Alternatively, they may refer you to a continence physiotherapist who’ll be able to check your technique, instruct you on the best way to perform the exercises, as well as develop a tailored program to meet your capability and specific objectives.


You don’t need to exercise your pelvic floor muscle – it gets a work out when you ‘hold on’.

If you’re having bladder or bowel leakage, or wish to avoid them, then it’s better to keep the pelvic floor muscle toned with specific exercises rather than hoping any incidental activity will do the job. It’s the same as hoping that a short walk to the local shop will keep you fit, so there’s no need to do any other exercise.

Another myth is that starting and stopping your urine flow is a good way to exercise the pelvic floor. While this is a recommended technique for identifying where the muscle is, continually stopping and starting urine flow is never advised for good bladder health.

Further, unless you’re holding on for too long (which also isn’t good for bladder health), then it’s unlikely the muscle will be getting the exercise it needs to improve or maintain condition.


A word of warning

While it’s true that a strong pelvic floor won’t correct all types of incontinence, it will improve bladder and bowel control, which should help most cases.

However, if you’re having bladder or bowel issues, it’s wise to discuss them with your doctor as there are many possible underlying causes and not all will be corrected with pelvic floor exercises. It may be that your current medication is the problem or an enlarged prostate. And while a strong pelvic floor is useful in assisting with control, it won’t address such causes – so make sure you see your doctor.


Manage incontinence in the meantime

While you’re getting your pelvic floor back into shape, you might find the security of a disposable absorbent product practical.

For women, TENA Liners are great for light incontinence to help you stay fresh. For medium incontinence we offer TENA Pads are great that are comfortable to wear.

For men, there are anatomically designed TENA Shields and TENA Guards that fit snugly into the front of briefs and offer ideal protection for dribbles.

If you require protection for heavier losses, our highly absorbent TENA Pants could be the best choice which are suitable for both men and women.

All TENA products all contain Super Absorbent Polymers (SAP) which rapidly draw in and lock away fluid to keep you dry, comfortable and confident. They’re also made of soft, breathable fabric that’s kind to skin and have Odour Lock TechnologyTM that prevents the development of any odours.

To find the right product to suit your needs, use the TENA Product Finder Tool,where you can also order free samples to try.




Asaleo Care makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional, medical or other health professional advice.