Reasons why the pelvic floor may become weak can be:
- Pregnancy. The pregnancy hormone progesterone relaxes and weakens the pelvic floor to increase its suppleness for birth. However, this also means that having a caesarean does not prevent pelvic floor weakness.
- Childbirth. If you experience a vaginal birth, the muscle will be stretched to enable you to give birth, but will inevitably be weakened.
- Menopause. The hormonal changes influence the strength of your pelvic floor.
- Persistent heavy lifting. This puts pressure on your internal organs and therefore your pelvic floor.
- Continual straining to empty your bowels, possibly due to constipation.
- Continual coughing either because of a medical condition or smoking. This puts a strain on your pelvic floor every time you cough.
- Being overweight, meaning the pelvic floor has more to support.
- Being generally unfit. Having yet another muscle in need of exercise!
Updated November 2007
Stables D. and Rankin J. Physiology in Childbearing with Anatomy and Related Biosciences. 2004, Bailliere Tindall, Edinburgh.
Last revised: Saturday, 10 November 2012
This article contains general information only and is not intended to replace advice from a qualified health professional.