levator ani muscle (anatomy)

Last reviewed 01/2018

Levator ani is the main muscle of the pelvic floor. It forms a funnel-shaped diaphragm in the pelvis between the lateral hip walls, the pubis anteriorly and the coccyx posteriorly. It is traversed by different structures in each sex:

  • males:
    • urethra
    • anal canal
  • females:
    • urethra
    • vagina
    • anal canal

Often, levator ani is considered as several separate muscle parts:

  • pubovaginalis
  • coccygeus
  • iliococcygeus
  • pubococcygeus
  • puborectalis

However they have common features:

  • origin: from a tendinous arch between the pubis and ischial spine on the internal surface of the pelvis
  • insertion:
    • perineal body
    • external wall of anal canal
    • anococcygeal ligament
    • coccyx

Levator ani has a crucial role in the maintenance of continence.