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Three Functions Of The Pelvic Floor

By Dr. Rachelle Sweeney, PT, DPT

The pelvic floor is important for many of our daily tasks and must work well to allow the rest of the body to optimally function.

It is made of three distinct layers that, together, fulfill three roles. These include sexual function, sphincteric control, and support/stability. Let's explore each of those roles further!


Support/Stability: The pelvic floor muscles provide support for the pelvic organs (bladder, rectum, uterus) with changes in pressure. The pelvic floor and diaphragm function as a piston with breathing and with managing force from above (laughing, coughing, jumping, sneezing, lifting) by contracting to support you when needed. The pelvic floor also plays an important role in the "core" (which includes the muscles of the abdomen, back, pelvic floor, and diaphragm), by providing support to the low back and bony pelvis. This support is important through all stages of life but has an increased demand during pregnancy.

Sphincteric Control: The pelvic floor muscles wrap around the urethra and anus. They contract to "close off" the exits of the bladder and rectum to prevent leakage and, equally as important, they relax/coordinate to allow for urination and the passage of stool.

Sexual Function: The muscles of the pelvic floor must have enough strength and mobility to allow for pain free and pleasurable sex. Contraction of the pelvic floor is required to achieve orgasm, however adequate mobility and relaxation are also required for pain free penetration.


Dysfunction in how the muscles of the pelvic floor work together to fulfill each of these roles can lead to pelvic organ prolapse, urinary incontinence, pelvic pain, low back pain, diastasis rectus abdominis (abdominal separation), pregnancy related pain, and much more. For that reason, it is important to properly care for the muscles of your pelvic floor and seek physical therapy if you experience issues with any of the above!

If you are experiencing any problems with your pelvic floor contact us today for your FREE 15 minute phone consultation to begin addressing your concerns and help you reach your goals!


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