Physiotherapists who specialise in pelvic health problems are reminding women and men that pelvic floor muscles exercises can improve sexual pleasure.
Amanda Savage, spokesperson for the CSP professional network of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapists explains that pleasurable vaginal sensations occur due to ‘pressure’ and ‘deep touch’.
‘Sexual pleasure comes from the movement and build-up from friction against the vaginal wall, which are layered with the pelvic floor muscles.
‘Pelvic floor muscle exercises tone and strengthen these muscles, improving blood supply and nerve activity, all leading to greater pleasure.’
Most people associate pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegels) with reducing incontinence but research has shown that strengthening and toning the muscular floor of the pelvis also has an impact on sexual performance and enjoyment too.
‘Many women report they are able to reach orgasm more easily, and that their orgasms are more powerful, after focusing on pelvic floor muscle exercises,’ said Ms Savage.
In addition UK-led research shows clear evidence that strengthening pelvic floor muscles improves problems of erectile dysfunction. The pelvic floor muscles help to trap blood in the penis to maintain an erection. As a result pelvic floor exercises can help men obtain stronger, longer-lasting erections.
Top tips for ‘puckering up’ your pelvic floor
Pelvic health physiotherapists specialise in teaching pelvic floor exercises. They recommend the following top tips for strengthening your pelvic floor:
- Use the whole pelvic floor – most people focus on contracting the muscles around the opening of the bladder tube (the urethra). But you should also practise tightening around the anal sphincter, as if stopping wind escaping. Contracting the back part and front part of the pelvic floor together creates more uplift and closure of the vaginal walls in women, and can help sustain an erection in men.
- Vary the types of contractions – like all muscles in the body the pelvic floor muscles can perform in different ways. Practise short, powerful squeezes (10-15 in a row) but also less intense but longer contractions too – for example trying to sustain a pelvic floor muscle hold for 5-10 seconds, ideally while still breathing.
- Remember to RELAX – relax the pelvic floor properly between each contraction. It is possible to overwork the muscles causing tension and tightness in the pelvic floor. Some people also experience pain and discomfort during sex because they find it difficult to relax their muscles. Make sure you both contract and then properly release the contraction before the next one.
- Little and often works really well – think of doing exercises at the same time as other routine tasks like when you clean your teeth or after you have a wee (it is no longer recommended to stop mid-flow). Exercise is good for all aspects of your health. Remember to let your pelvic floor muscles have a chance to get strong too. If you do regular classes and gym activities – build in a pelvic floor muscle moment each time to help build the perfect pucker for Valentine’s Day – and the day after...and the day after.. and for life.
Free pelvic floor information booklets, for both men and women, are available on the POGP website
If you feel you would benefit from a proper assessment and individual help from a specialist physiotherapist talk to your GP about a referral to your local NHS team. Many services also accept self-referral.
Local specialist physiotherapists can also be found by contacting POGP through their website and providing your postcode. They will then respond with details about the nearest specialist physiotherapists to you.
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