Pelvic Anatomy and Physiology – A Starting Point for Children

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Eliza Etter PT, DPT, CLT

Sometimes, we all have a little bit of trouble talking about what is going on “down there”. But it is paramount that even from a young age, we learn the proper words for our parts in order to make them more familiar and less embarrassing to talk about. Even though it may be weird to talk about at first, we do this so we can tell the caretakers in our lives when something doesn’t feel right in those particular parts. We are first going to take a dive into our pelvis ( a part of our body) to learn where everything is located and then we will learn about what each part does.

  • Your pelvis is made of two bones that come together and form a bowl shape. If you put your hands on your hips you are touching the top of your pelvis! Now place your hands under your bottom to feel your sit bones, you are touching the bottom of your pelvis! If you were to look at a skeleton, you might notice that the pelvis looks kind of like a bowl. The top of the bowl is open and your organs sit inside of it. The bottom of the bowl has muscles that run across it like a hammock to hold up your organs. These muscles are called pelvic floor muscles.
  • Your pelvic floor muscles work just like any other muscle in your body, they tighten and relax. They are special muscles though because they give extra help to your organs which we will get back to later.
  • Your bladder is like a thick balloon. It stretches as it fills with pee, also called urine, and shrinks when you go to the bathroom. Your bladder sits at the front of your pelvis.
  • Your urethra is like a little tube that comes out of your bladder so the urine can exit your body. From the outside, it looks like a very small hole and it is where the pee comes out! If you have male anatomy your urethra runs through your penis. If you have female anatomy, you can see the urethra right between the clitoris and the vagina.
  • Your clitoris is the little bump that lives at the very top of your private parts ( we call that the vulva at Beyond Basics). The clitoris is only present on people with female anatomy.
  • Your uterus is behind your bladder if you have female anatomy. We can’t see either our bladder, or uterus, because they live inside our pelvis. The uterus is a hollow muscular organ. If you’ve ever seen a pregnant person, the baby itself is living inside the uterus! If you have male anatomy you do not have a vagina or uterus. It is also important to note that people with female anatomy may not have a uterus and that’s okay too!
  • Your vagina is behind, or in the back of,your urethra if you have female anatomy. If you have male anatomy you do not have a vagina. From the outside it looks like just a hole. But it is a tube that connects into your uterus and when a baby is born, most of the time the baby will exit out of the uterus, through the vagina and into the world! Hello, baby!
  • Your ovaries (you have two if you have female anatomy and none if you have male anatomy) sit next to your uterus on either side of it. These are where your egg cells are which we will talk about more below.
  • Your fallopian tubes (you have two if you have female anatomy and none if you have male anatomy) are attached on either side of the uterus and pick up the egg cell from your ovaries and eventually bring it into the uterus.
  • Your penis people with male anatomy have a penis. Inside of it is the urethra (remember that tube that brings the pee out).
  • Foreskin: some people with male anatomy will have foreskin and others won’t. Depending on your culture or religion you may not have foreskin in which case, we describe that person as having been circumcised. If someone still has foreskin, we say that they are uncircumcised. Someone who has foreskin will notice the head of the penis is covered by it. It is important to remember to clean carefully around it. As you might guess it’s pretty personal, but whether or not you are uncircumcised you are normal.
  • Your testicles live inside your scrotum, the testicles are two round balls and your scrotum is the sack that contains them. When you get older, the testicles will begin to make sperm, which along with an egg from someone with female anatomy, is required to make a baby. Testicles and the scrotum are only found on individuals with male anatomy.
  • Your colon is located behind your bladder (and behind your uterus if you have female anatomy). Your colon is like a thick long and skinny balloon, that holds your poop, also called stool.
  • Peeing
    • Your kidneys are located higher up in your body outside your pelvis. Your kidneys filter your blood, and whatever your body does not need becomes urine which flows through tubes from the kidneys into your bladder.
    • Your bladder holds the urine until you are ready to go to the bathroom. The bladder is like a balloon that stretches as more urine enters it. When it stretches to a certain point it talks to your brain and your brain then lets you know that it’s time to go to the bathroom soon. If we ignore what our brain is telling us, the feeling that we need to pee is going to get stronger and stronger.
    • When you are ready to go to the bathroom and let the pee come out of a tube-like structure called the urethra, which is in the penis for individuals with male anatomy. The water balloon that is your bladder squeezes at the top and opens at the bottom, and the hammock which is the pelvic floor muscles relax. If your bladder squeezes and the pelvic floor muscles squeeze at the same time it might be hard to pee, or your pee may start and stop. This can confuse your bladder. If your bladder is confused it may tell you that you have to pee when you don’t actually need to, or forgot to tell you that you need to go when it is full. If this happens to you, physical therapy can help
  • Pooping
    • Your food moves from your stomach into your intestines and eventually into the end of your colon which lives in the back of the pelvis. The food has now been digested, with the good parts used by your body, and the things it doesn’t need are ready to come out as poop.
    • Like your bladder, your colon stretches as poop accumulates and when it is full, your colon talks to your brain and your brain tells you that it’s time to go to the bathroom. However, unlike the bladder, if we ignore what our brain tells us then eventually it will be quiet. This is ok sometimes, but if we ignore our brain all the time, it may not want to tell us it’s time to poop at all anymore. If this happens, the poop sits inside the colon and the balloon gets bigger, the size of the poop gets bigger and harder and it can be really hard to get the poop out. But if this does happen to you, never fear! There is a lot that we can do to get the colon and the brain communicating better in physical therapy.
  • Beyond Basics remains open and is also offering telehealth, both in our Midtown and Downtown location and provides top notch pelvic rehab to both adults and children alike. If you are interested in learning more, please call 212-354-2626

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