|Left Levator ani from within.|
|Coronal section through the anal canal. B. Cavity of urinary bladder V.D. Ductus deferens. S.V. Seminal vesicle. R. Second part of rectum. A.C. Anal canal. L.A. Levator ani. I.S. Sphincter ani internus. E.S. Sphinear ani externus.|
|Gray's||subject #119 420|
|Nerve||Sacral nerves 3-4 |
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Some sources do not consider the "pelvic floor" and "pelvic diaphragm" to be identical, with the "diaphragm" consisting of only the levator ani and coccygeus, while the "floor" also includes the perineal membrane and deep perineal pouch. However, other sources include the fascia as part of the diaphragm.  In practice, the two terms are often used interchangeably.
Inferiorly, the pelvic floor extends into the anal triangle.
In women, the levator muscles or their supplying nerves can be damaged in pregnancy or childbirth. This occurs more commonly after a normal vaginal delivery, but can also occur following a c-section. There is some evidence that these muscles may also be damaged during a hysterectomy. Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, may improve the tone and function of the pelvic floor muscles, which is of particular benefit for women (and less commonly men) who suffer from urinary incontinence. In addition to preventing or diminishing leakage it may improve vaginal laxity, and consequent diminished sexual sensation.
Damage to the pelvic floor not only contributes to urinary incontinence but can lead to pelvic organ prolapse. Pelvic organ prolapse occurs women when pelvic organs (e.g. the vagina, bladder, rectum, or uterus) protrude into or outside of the vagina. The causes of pelvic organ prolapse are not unlike those that also contribute to urinary incontinence. These include inappropriate (asymmetrical, excessive, insufficient) muscle tone and asymmetries caused by trauma to the pelvis. Age, childbirth, family history, and hormonal status all contribute to the development of pelvic organ prolapse. The vagina is suspended by attachments to the perineum, pelvic side wall and sacrum via attachments that include collagen, elastin, and smooth muscle. Repair of lost vaginal support may involve surgery.
- Human anatomy at Dartmouth part_6/chapter_37.html#chpt_37_innervation_diaphragm
- Gray's Anatomy For Students. 2005. p. 391.
|last1=in Authors list (help)
- Pelvic+diaphragm at eMedicine Dictionary
- Overview at nih.gov
- Selection of recent medical literature continuously updated on Pelvic Floor Functional Anatomy
This article was originally based on an entry from a public domain edition of Gray's Anatomy. As such, some of the information contained herein may be outdated. Please edit the article if this is the case, and feel free to remove this notice when it is no longer relevant.