10% off £25 OR 15% off £35

Code:DEAL
 

10% off £25 OR 15% off £35

Code:DEAL

🏷️ 3 for 2 Mix & MatchOffersOffers Hub3 for 2 Mix & MatchOutletSave up to 1/2 PriceBuy one get one 1/2 priceGreat SavingsBuy 1 Get 1 Free1/2 PriceBetter than 1/2 priceShort DatedIntroductory Offer3 for £3 Mix & MatchBuy 6 for £15 Mix & MatchVitamins & SupplementsVitamins & Supplements HubVitamins & Supplements Shop AllCBDShop all CBDCBD OilCBD CapsulesCBD SprayCBD GummiesCollagen & SilicaHair, Skin & NailsShop all Hair, Skin & NailsHair GrowthFunctional MushroomsVitaminsShop all VitaminsMultivitaminsVitamin AVitamin BVitamin CVitamin DVitamin EVitamin KVitamin DrinksMineralsShop all MineralsMagnesiumIronZincCalciumSeleniumChromiumSupplementsShop all SupplementsFibre SupplementsAcidophilus & Friendly BacteriaPeppermint OilGrapeseed ExtractLecithinCollagen & SilicaOmega & Fish OilsPlant Sourced SupplementsSuperfood SupplementsArnicaApple CiderRaspberry KetonesAloe VeraChondroitin & MSMCo Enzyme Q10Evening Primrose OilGarlicGinkgo BilobaGlucosamineGlucomannanSeaweed, Kelps and Aquaceuticals5 HTPSaw palmettoCharcoalWomen's HealthShop all Women's HealthMenopauseMenstrual SupportUrinary Tract HealthPregnancy & ConceptionMen's HealthShop all Men's HealthProstate HealthChildren's HealthConditionShop all ConditionWater RetentionAllergy & Hay Fever CareAnxiety SupportBone & Muscle HealthMuscle Support & Joint PainBrain & Memory SupportWomen's HealthMen's HealthChildren's HealthPain ReliefCold & Immune SupportFatigueDigestive HealthHair, Skin & NailsHeart & CirculationLiver CareMood SupportSexual HealthSleep & RelaxationStress ReliefVisionHerbal & Licensed RemediesShop all Herbal & Licensed RemediesValerianSt John's WortRescue RemedyAgnus CastusAshwagandhaEchinaceaMilk ThistleDevil's ClawGinseng & GuaranaBlack CohoshHomeopathic & Flower RemediesShop all Homeopathic & Flower RemediesRescue RemedyTissue SaltsFlower RemediesHomeopathic RemediesAt-Home TestsVegan Vitamins & Supplements3 for 2 Mix & MatchOutletBuy 1 Get 1 FreeHolland & BarrettVitabioticsSolgarWeledaNew NordicBioglanBetterYouNatures AidGrass & Co.Bach Original Flower RemediesDairy FreeGluten FreeSesame Seed FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeFish FreeKiwi FreeLupin FreeNew inFood & DrinkFood & Drink HubFood & Drink Shop AllVegan FoodHoney, Jams & SpreadsShop all Honey, Jams & SpreadsManuka HoneyHoneyJams & ChutneysNut ButtersSpreadsPateTeas & Hot BeveragesShop all Teas & Hot BeveragesTeaCoffee & Coffee SubstituteMushroom DrinksDried Fruit, Nuts & SeedsShop all Dried Fruit, Nuts & SeedsNutsDried FruitSeedsMixesSuperfoodsShop all SuperfoodsSuperfood PowdersMaca PowderGoji BerriesBaobabMoringa PowderFlaxseedSpirulinaChia SeedsSnacksShop all SnacksProtein BarsLow Calorie SnacksChocolate, Cakes & BiscuitsSavoury SnacksSweet SnacksSnack BarsCrisps & ChipsFlapjacksPopcornFood CupboardShop all Food CupboardHoney, Jams & SpreadsBreakfast CerealsSuperfoodsApple Cider VinegarCondiments & SaucesTinned FoodsRice, Pasta, Pulses & GrainsBreakfast CerealsShop all Breakfast CerealsCereals, Bran & FlakesGranolaMuesliOats & PorridgeBreakfast BarsDrinksShop all DrinksKombuchaNatural Energy DrinksJuicesSoft DrinksWaterAlcohol Free DrinksCookingShop all CookingCooking IngredientsApple Cider VinegarCondiments & SaucesSoya & Meat AlternativeSoup & Ready MealsRice, Pasta, Pulses & GrainsHerbs, Spices & SeasoningGravy & StockHome BakingShop all Home BakingBaking MixesBreadFlourSweeteners & Sugar AlternativesEgg SubstitutesDairy AlternativesShop all Dairy AlternativesOat, Rice & Hemp DrinksSoya DrinksNut DrinksCoconut DrinksNutritionally Complete Food3 for 2 Mix & MatchOutletBuy one get one 1/2 priceHolland & BarrettNaturyaHeath & HeatherPukkaGrenadeMeridianTwiningsBionaNakdManuka DoctorGluten FreeDairy FreeEgg FreeWheat FreeMilk FreeSulphites FreeCelery FreeKiwi FreeMustard FreeFish FreeNew inSports NutritionSports Nutrition HubSports Nutrition Shop AllProteinShop all ProteinClear ProteinWhey ProteinMass GainersVegan ProteinDiet ProteinCaseinBars, Drinks & SnacksShop all Bars, Drinks & SnacksEnergy BarsEnergy DrinksProtein BarsProtein ShakesProtein SnacksNutritionally Complete FoodMeal Replacement ShakesPre Workout & EnergyShop all Pre Workout & EnergyPre WorkoutAmino Energy DrinksAmino Energy PowdersIntra WorkoutKetoPost WorkoutAmino AcidsShop all Amino AcidsAmino Energy PowdersAmino Energy DrinksBCAAL-LysineGlutamineCarnitineArginineCreatineShop all CreatineCreatine PowderCreatine CapsulesSports SupplementsShop all Sports SupplementsTestosteroneSports CollagenRehydrationShop all RehydrationElectrolytesEnergy GelsVegan Sports NutritionShop all Vegan Sports NutritionVegan ProteinVegan Protein BarsVegan Pre Workout & EnergyVegan Amino AcidsVegan CreatineSports AccessoriesShop all Sports AccessoriesBottles & ShakersFitness EquipmentFitness GoalShop all Fitness GoalRecoveryMuscle & StrengthLean MuscleEnergy & EnduranceDiet & Weight LossSave up to 1/2 Price3 for 2 Mix & MatchGreat SavingsOptimum NutritionPE NutritionUSNGrenadeApplied NutritionPhDSiSFoodspringHuelYfoodDairy FreeGluten FreeSugar FreeSoya FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeFish FreeKiwi FreeNew inBeautyBeauty HubNatural Beauty Shop AllAromatherapy & HomeShop all Aromatherapy & HomePure Essential OilsBlended Essential OilsBase & Carrier OilsHolisticSkincareShop all SkincarePremium SkincareFace CareBody CareSun CareTanning & BronzingEye CareLip CareFoot CareHand & Nail CareSkin AilmentsSkin OilsCBD BeautyHair Skin & NailsWashing & BathingShop all Washing & BathingShampoo & ConditionerBathing AccessoriesShower Gel & Body WashDeodorantDentalHand WashSoapBath Soak & OilBody ScrubBath Bombs & SaltsFeminine CareIncontinence SupportHair CareShop all Hair CareShampoo & ConditionerHair ColouringHair MasksHair Oil & SerumHair Spray, Gel & MousseHair AccessoriesMother & BabyShop all Mother & BabyBaby Skincare & ToiletriesElectrical WellnessSexual Wellness3 for 2 Mix & MatchOutletSave up to 1/2 PriceDr OrganicFaith in NatureWeledaNaturtintTisserandSukinMiaromaQ+AEthiqueSo EcoAlcohol FreeParfum FreeParaben FreeSLS FreePalm Oil FreeGluten FreeCelery FreeCereal FreeCrustaceans FreeEgg FreeNew inCBDWeight ManagementWeight Management HubWeight Management Shop AllFat Burners, Binders & Appetite SuppressantsShop all Fat Burners, Binders & Appetite SuppressantsFat BurnersFat BindersAppetite SuppressantsSlimming TabletsShakes & Weight Management ShotsShop all Shakes & Weight Management ShotsMeal Replacement ShakesDiet ProteinDiet Food & DrinkShop all Diet Food & DrinkDiet FoodLow Calorie SnacksSlimming TeaExercise SupportShop all Exercise SupportFitness EquipmentMeal Replacement ShakesDiet ProteinProtein Bars3 for 2 Mix & MatchSave up to 1/2 PriceGreat SavingsOptimum NutritionGrenadeHolland & BarrettUSNPhDEat WaterPulsinNatures AidNew NordicSlimExpertDairy FreeGluten FreeSugar FreeWheat FreeNew inVeganHealth & WellnessShop all Health & WellnessJoints Bones & MusclesGut HealthHair Skin & NailsStress AnxietySleep & Relaxation3 for 2 Mix & MatchOutletSave up to 1/2 PriceHolland & BarrettWeledaVitabioticsDr OrganicSolgarNaturtintOptimum NutritionNew NordicHeath & HeatherBeurerDairy FreeGluten FreeParaben FreeSLS FreeAlcohol FreeParfum FreeWheat FreeSoya FreeSugar FreeCelery FreeNew inShop for your WellnessWomen's HealthMenstrual HealthMenopauseJoints, Bones & MusclesGut HealthHair, Skin & NailsImmunitySleep & RelaxationFood & DietChildren's HealthStress ReliefHealthy HeartEnergyLow Mood & DepressionConcentration & AlertnessEye HealthSexual HealthLearn about WellnessWomen's HealthPeriods & Cycle HealthMenopauseJoints, Bones & MusclesImmunityGut HealthFood & DietSports & FitnessSleep & RelaxationHair Skin & NailsAll articlesHealthFood & nutritionGut healthImmunityJoints, bones & musclesWomen's healthWellnessHair & skinMental wellbeingSeasonalSleep & relaxationSports nutritionRecipesAll recipesGluten freeLow sugarVeganDairy freePodcast
Female hiker wearing a yellow jacket in outdoor setting. Happy expressions

How to know if your pelvic floor needs strengthening

21 Mar 2023 • 5 min read

Our pelvic floor is something we might not think about until we have a problem. However, a weak pelvic floor can cause problems from incontinence to painful sex.

Luckily, with the right exercises, you can help get your pelvic floor back into shape.

This article covers what the pelvic floor is, why we need to maintain it, signs of a problem with our pelvic floor, and some simple pelvic exercises to get this area back into shape.

Skip to: 

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor refers to a group of muscles which sits at the very base of your pelvis. The main types of pelvic floor muscles include the pubococcygeus, iliococcygeus, coccygeus and puborectalis muscles, but you probably won’t need to know the names of these off by heart.1 They’re located just below your abdominal organs, including the bladder and intestines, and the uterus in women.

The function of the pelvic floor is to support these organs like a sling, keeping them in place, as well as controlling the flow of urine and faeces as they exit the body.2

7 factors which can affect our pelvic floor

1. Getting older

Over the years, the muscles of the pelvic floor naturally weaken. This happens to both men and women and is down to a range of hormonal, muscular and neurological changes associated with ageing.

2. Pregnancy

During pregnancy, the entire abdominal area is put under increased pressure as the baby grows. The muscles of the pelvic floor must stretch to accommodate the growing uterus, while supporting the other abdominal organs. Also, pregnancy hormones cause muscles and ligaments to relax, which causes the pelvic floor to become slacker.4

3. Childbirth

Childbirth can have a big impact on the pelvic floor. During labour, pelvic muscles can stretch quite a lot – and as the baby passes through the birth canal, the muscles are displaced and often torn.5 

Following birth, women can experience incontinence, problems going to the loo comfortably and pain during sex. These problems are usually temporary - your midwife, health visitor or doctor should guide you on this.

4. Heavy lifting

Whether your job entails you lifting heavy objects, or you’re into strength training in the gym, your pelvic floor can be affected over time by heavy lifting. This is because as you strain to lift heavy, your pelvic floor muscles must bear intra-abdominal pressure as they brace to keep your abdominal organs in place.6

5. Obesity

Being significantly overweight increases the risk of pelvic floor disorders.5 Excess weight on your frame puts pressure on your abdominal area, risking incontinence and even pelvic organ prolapse.7

6. Prostate cancer treatment

Following some treatments for prostate cancer, some men experience temporary urinary problems such as leaking urine and passing wind without meaning to due to damage to the pelvic floor muscles.8

7. Smoking

Yet another reason to give up. That persistent smoker’s cough can increase intra-abdominal pressure each time you cough, leading to a gradual weakening of the pelvic floor muscles over time.9

 

Do you need to work on your pelvic floor strength?

If you experience any of the following, you may have a weakened pelvic floor:10

  • a sudden, urgent need to pass urine 
  • involuntary passing of small amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercising 
  • pain during sex 
  • passing wind accidentally

How can I strengthen my pelvic floor fast?

The good news is, it’s never too late to strengthen pelvic floor muscles and a significant improvement can be made by doing pelvic floor exercises at home.

But what are the best pelvic floor exercises? After we’ve explained exactly what they are, we’ll talk you through three of the best pelvic floor exercises that you can try at home.

What are pelvic floor exercises?

Pelvic floor exercises are designed to help strengthen the muscles around your bladder, bottom and vagina or penis. Squeezing these muscles helps to build their strength and if you do them consistently (and with the correct form) you should be able to notice results after a few months.11

3 of the best pelvic floor exercises

1. Kegel exercises

These pelvic muscle exercises are so well-known, the pelvic floor muscles are sometimes referred to as the ‘Kegel muscles’.

Kegel exercises for men and women are simple to perform. When standing, sitting or lying down, simply clench your pelvic floor muscles and hold them tightly for 5 - 10 seconds. Release for 5 seconds, then clench them again. Do this at least 10 times, 3 times per day.10

2. Pelvic floor trainer

For women, there’s a new smart Kegel trainer which can offer extra reassurance that you’re making progress with your pelvic floor strength. Whether you’re pregnant, getting back in shape after birth or concerned about those little accidents, give pelvic floor toners, such as the Intimina KegelSmart, a try.

The KegelSmart uses a simple vibration-guided programme which guides you through your daily exercises, while registering your pelvic muscle strength and monitoring improvement. With measurable results in 12 weeks, this pelvic floor exerciser lets you know when your hard work is paying off – such a great motivator!

3. Bridge

Looking for pelvic floor-friendly core exercises? One of the best is a bridge. This exercise raises your pelvis off the ground, engaging the muscles in your buttocks and thighs as well as your pelvic floor.

Lie on your back on a carpet, rug or yoga mat with your feet flat on the floor and bring your knees up to bend at a 90-degree angle. Ensure your head, hands, feet and shoulders are in contact with the floor as you raise up your pelvis until your back is straight. Hold this pose for 5 – 10 seconds before gently lowering your pelvis back down to the floor. Perform up to 30 times per day, every day.

For these pelvic floor exercises, men and women can both expect tighter, more controlled pelvic muscles in 3 – 5 months of daily practice.10

How do you know if you are doing pelvic floor exercises correctly?                     

The muscles that you engage as if you were stopping the flow of urine are your pelvic floor muscles. As long as you’re feeling the clench there, and squeezing them as tight as you can, then you’re doing them right.

Women will feel the squeeze around their vagina and anus, and men around their testicles and anus. Please note – you shouldn’t routinely try to stop the flow of urine once it’s begun as this can damage your bladder.10

The final say

Working on your pelvic floor is always a good idea, but especially if it has been weakened through pregnancy, weight changes or getting older. But as we’ve explained, there are a number of different ways to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, like doing Kegels, bridges or by using a pelvic floor trainer.

For more helpful guidance on looking after your muscles, check out our guide to muscle health which has everything you need to know.

Just remember, if you’re experiencing any pain like we’ve mentioned here, it’s super important to speak to a medical professional first as they can provide you with advice tailored exactly to you.

bhupesh-panchal

Bhupesh Panchal

Author

Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: April 2019

Masters Degree in Toxicology and BSc Hons in Medical Biochemistry

Bhupesh started his career as a Clinical Toxicologist for Public Health England, advising healthcare professionals all around the country on how to manage clinical cases of adverse exposure to supplements, pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, industrial chemicals and agricultural products.

After 7 years in this role and a further year working as a drug safety officer in the pharmaceutical industry, Bhupesh joined Holland & Barrett as a Senior Regulatory Affairs Associate in 2019.
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • PayPal
  • AmericanExpress
  • ApplePay
  • ClearPay
  • AliPay
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Copyright © Holland & Barrett Retail Limited, 2023. All rights reserved. hollandandbarrett.com is a trading name of Holland & Barrett Retail Limited,. Registered office: Samuel Ryder House, Barling Way, Nuneaton, Warwickshire CV10 7RH. Registered in England: company no. 2758955. Registered VAT no. 211727395.