Here’s the truth: women still don’t feel 100% comfortable talking about their health and it’s leaving a lot of women totally in the dark. But the more that women can feel comfortable to openly talk about health issues related to sex, their reproductive systems, and hormones, the more people will realize just how common those “embarrassing” conditions actually are. More importantly, they’ll find the answers they were too ashamed to look for. One such issue is pelvic floor disorders, which is estimated 25% of women go through in their lifetime, affecting both bladder control and their sex lives. So, ladies… let’s talk!
The One Exercise You Should Be Doing To Improve Your Sex Life
What Are Pelvic Floor Muscles?
First of all, both men and women have pelvic floor muscles. They are a layer of muscles directly beneath pelvic organs such as the bladder, bowels, and for women: uterus. (You squeeze these muscles when you need to go to the bathroom, but you’re trying to hold it until the next freeway exit). The pelvic floor muscles are also important in supporting your spine, and they’re important during pregnancy and labor.
Learning to strengthen your pelvic floor can help prevent dysfunction before it happens so you can avoid awkward or even painful situations.
What Is Pelvic Floor Dysfunction?
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction (PFD) is not a single condition, but refers to a wide range of conditions caused by weak (hypotonic) or tight (hypertonic) pelvic floor muscles. Despite being quite common, pelvic floor dysfunction shouldn’t be considered a normal part of aging; it can greatly impact your quality of life if left untreated.
Women who suffer from women who suffer from hypotonicity (weakened pelvic floor muscles) can experience incontinence, loose stool, lowered libido, fewer orgasms, pelvic organ prolapse, and/or painful sex.
On the other hand, hypertonicity (tight pelvic floor muscles) can experience painful intercourse, vaginismus, constipation, feel the need to urinate frequently, often feel like they can’t fully empty their bladder, and/or a low-grade chronic pain in the pelvic, hip, and lower back regions.
Pelvic Floor Dysfunction Is Commonly Caused By:
How to Treat Pelvic Floor Disorders
Women who suffer from too tight pelvic muscles should work with their OB/GYN or family doctor to help identify the potential causes and appropriate treatments for their discomfort. Pelvic floor disorders can have a wide number of causes, many of which are not yet fully understood, so it’s important to be patient with the journey of treatment, whether it includes physical therapy, personal counselling, or a mix of both.
If you’re experiencing incontinence (i.e. when that laugh or sneeze turns into an emergency trip to the washroom), it’s important to first rule out other potential causes with your doctor. However, once the cause has been identified as hypotonic pelvic floor muscles, in most cases, symptoms can be improved by strengthening the pelvic floor with pelvic exercises (i.e. Kegels) you can do at home. For best results, you can visit a women’s health physiotherapist or pelvic health expert to create an individualized routine for you and to help track results. These experts can also help you properly isolate your pelvic floor muscles if you’re having trouble.
Try An At-Home Pelvic Floor Routine
The best way to start practicing pelvic strengthening exercises is to learn to accurately isolate those muscles. Women’s health physiotherapist, Shira Kramer, explains how to find and train your pelvic floor muscles:
To summarize Shira Kramer’s guidelines:
- Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your back passage and your vagina at the same time. Lift them UP inside. You should have a sense of “lift” each time you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Try to hold them strong and tight as you count to 8. Now, let them go and relax. You should have a distinct feeling of “letting go”.
- Repeat “squeeze and lift” and let go. It is best to rest for about 8 seconds in between each lift up of the muscles. If you can’t hold for 8, just hold for as long as you can.
- Repeat this “squeeze and lift” as many times as you can, up to a limit of 8 to 12 squeezes.
- Try to do three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes each, with a rest in between.
Do this whole training plan (three sets of 8 to 12 squeezes) each day while lying down, sitting or standing.While doing pelvic floor muscle training:
- keep breathing;
- only squeeze and lift;
- do NOT tighten your buttocks; and
- keep your thighs relaxed.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not recommended to practice pelvic exercises while urinating, as stopping and starting the flow of urine in this way can actually lead to UTI’s, thanks to an incomplete emptying of the bladder.