Pelvic Diaphragm

The levator ani (le-va'tor ah-ni') muscles form a thin sheet across the pelvic outlet. They are connected at the midline posteriorly by a ligament that extends from the tip of the coccyx to the anal canal. Anteriorly, they are separated in the male by the urethra and the anal canal, and in the female by the urethra, vagina, and anal canal. These muscles help support the pelvic viscera and provide sphincterlike action in the anal canal and vagina.

An external anal sphincter that is under voluntary control and an internal anal sphincter that is formed of involuntary muscle fibers of the intestine encircle the anal canal and keep it closed.

The coccygeus (kok-sij'e-us) is a fan-shaped muscle that extends from the ischial spine to the coccyx and sacrum. It aids the levator ani.

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