Want to improve your sex life this Valentine’s Day?

Want to improve your sex life? Getting your pelvic floor muscles stronger may just do the trick!

Valentine’s day is billed as the most romantic day of the year and many people are looking for ways to spice things up in the bedroom. Though it may seem simple, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles could be the best way to bring some extra spark into your sex life.

Where are your pelvic floor muscles and what do they do?

Both men and women have pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are located at the base of your pelvis, stretching from your pubic bone at the front to your tail bone at the back.  They have 3 main functions for women.

  1. They keep your bladder, womb and bowel in the correct position – preventing pelvic organ prolapse
  2. They tightly close your bladder and bowel openings to prevent incontinence
  3. They help with sexual function and sensation

We’re focusing on the final point ?

So what’s the issue?

In a recent study, it was found that over 60% of women suffer with some sexual dysfunction in the first year following childbirth. This may manifest itself differently for each woman. The most common issues are a loss of libido, pain during intercourse and an inability or reduced ability to achieve an orgasm. Understandably, these are sensitive issues and few women are comfortable discussing them openly. Unfortunately, this mean that most women do not realise that these problems are so common.  Specialist physiotherapy can help, but most women do not know that this help is available.

The vaginal walls are layered with pelvic floor muscles.  Studies have found that when a woman climaxes her pelvic floor muscles elicit a strong contraction (or several contractions). Strengthening these muscles by giving them a regular work out may therefore improve your orgasms! In a recent review it was found that pelvic floor muscle exercises alone improved sexual desire, arousal, orgasm and satisfaction in the post-natal period.

It takes time to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Like any other muscle in your body, you need to work the muscles correctly and regularly in order to strengthen them. Not only do you want stronger muscles, you also want physically bigger muscles of the pelvic floor – the aim is to get ‘ripped’ down there! It usually takes around 4 months (at a minimum) to see significant improvements.

How do I work my pelvic floor?

  • Sit or lie comfortably
  • Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself passing wind from your back passage. Now imagine you are trying to stop the stream of urine at the same time. You need to think of squeezing inside your vagina. You should feel your muscles lift up and squeeze tight.
  • Think “tailbone, pubic bone, together and lift
  • Try to contract your pelvic floor muscles when you exhale (or breathe out).

You need to practice long squeezes to build up muscle endurance and short squeezes to enable the muscles to react quickly. Ideally, you should be able to tighten, squeeze and hold pelvic floor muscles holding them for 10 seconds, repeating this 10 times in a row. You should then follow with 10 quick squeezes.

The aim is to complete this process 3 times each day. Be patient – it may take time for you to be able do this! As you improve you will notice that you can hold your squeeze for longer and do more repetitions.

In order to ensure that you achieve a ‘perfect’ contraction (or an isolated pelvic floor contraction), try to:

  1. Avoid pulling your stomach in excessively
  2. Avoid squeezing your legs together
  3. Avoid tightening your buttocks
  4. Avoid holding your breath

A feeling of gentle tightening in your lower abdomen is normal.

Can my pelvic floor get too strong?

Strength is important, YES, but so too is relaxing your pelvic floor. If you are experiencing pain during sex it may be an indication that your pelvic floor muscles are not relaxing properly (known as pelvic floor over-activity).  If this is the case, try to practice some relaxed breathing regularly during the day (and before intercourse) to see if this helps with your pain.

Thanks for the information. So what’s next?

So, let’s say that you are aiming to get strong down there……. But how do you know if you are contracting your pelvic floor muscles correctly? And on the flip-side, how do you know if you are able to relax them?

Unfortunately, research has found that only half of women contract their pelvic floor muscles correctly.  You can try to check your own pelvic floor contraction by inserting your finger into your vagina.  You should be able to feel the vaginal walls gently tighten around your finger when you exercise your muscles. Alternatively, ask your partner if they can feel your vagina tighten during sex when you contract your pelvic floor muscles. You should also be able to fully ‘let go’ of your pelvic floor contraction. This is important as it ensures that your pelvic floor muscles can fully relax.

If you are unsure, an assessment with a Specialist Women’s Health Physiotherapist will tell you if you are doing the right thing, and if you are not, how this can be corrected. Your physiotherapist can also give you a progressive exercise programme to help you build up (or relax) your pelvic floor muscles in the best possible way.

…for now, Happy Valentine’s Day to all you lovely ladies and happy squeezing! ?

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