When we experience pelvic/perineal pain that can include but is not limited to pain with sitting, pain with penetrative or non-penetrative intercourse, pain with urination or defecation, or any generalized pain in the space between pubic bone and tailbone, the most likely cause is tension. This tension can cause difficulty with bowel, bladder, and sexual function.
So, what do you do if there’s too much tension in your pelvic floor muscles?
Our diaphragm, the dome-like muscle that sits under our rib cage, is directly connected to our pelvic floor. When we inhale deeply and send our breath to our abdomen (not the chest), the diaphragm descends downward. As our diaphragm descends downward, our pelvic floor does the same thing. This action is helping to relax our pelvic floor musculature by releasing tension of the muscles being held in an upward, active state.
To promote even more relaxation, we generally tell our patients to lie on their backs with legs supported on pillows. Your legs should be apart from one another and if it’s comfortable, place them in a butterfly position while still resting on pillows. While in this position, focus on your belly breathing – big inhale and abdomen expands upward toward the ceiling; as you exhale, let your belly fall naturally, without actively drawing your belly button down.
Morning and night are great times to do this as you are typically in bed already.
Stress is a big trigger for our pelvic floor muscles to tighten up. As you become more aware of that area of the body, you may even notice or feel those muscles remaining tight and elevated. You can always go back to the belly breathing throughout the day and visualize your pelvic floor muscles relaxing down and away, releasing tension. Obviously getting into a lying down position isn’t always possible, so try reclining in your chair and focusing on belly breathing for 3-5 minutes without any other distractions.