BY ALYSSA JUNG
What is the pelvic floor?
Men and women both have a pelvic floor—a hammock-shaped cluster of muscles, ligaments, connective tissues, and nerves that support the bladder and rectum—but in women, it also helps the uterus and vagina function properly. That’s why pelvic floor disorders are particularly common in women. In fact, a recent analysis of data from five years’ worth of National Health and Nutritional Examination Surveys (2005 to 2010), which included nearly 8,000 non-pregnant women, found that 17 percent suffered from moderate-to-severe urinary incontinence and 9.4 percent with fecal incontinence, both common types of pelvic floor disorders.
You can’t control your bladder
If you suffer from urinary incontinence—a lack of bladder control that results in leaking—you technically have a pelvic floor disorder. “Some people have stress incontinence, which is leakage caused by coughing, laughing, or sneezing,” says Kimberly Ferrante, MD, uro-gynecologist at NYU Langone Medical Center in New York City. Women who do heavy weight-lifting or CrossFit-type workouts also commonly experience incontinence because of all the pressure lifting and strenuous exercises put on the bladder.