Last Thursday, I stepped into my presenter boots and discussed the finer points of women’s health to a bright and attentive, female audience at Moody’s, London. Mid way through the presentation I realised I was actually discussing the female orgasm, with full Karen style hand actions, half way up 1 Canada Square! The last time I’d been presenting in a similar environment I’d been discussing user interfaces and SQL programming – oh how life has changed! So it’s time to share some of the more intimate and fun facts about your lady organs.
Orgasms. You’ve probably heard it said somewhere that sporty folk have great sex, or perhaps conversely that older women just can’t be bothered – it’s not worth the effort anymore. Did you know that problems during intercourse could be an indicator of a bigger issue, such as pelvic organ prolapse? Or (and here’s the juicy bit) that you can actually improve the quality and intensity of your orgasms by strengthening your pelvic floor?
Painful sex (dyspareunia)
For some women, penetrative sex is painful. In many cases this can be because of a psychological barrier but there’s a specific pelvic floor condition known as hyper-tonic pelvic floor where the pelvic floor muscles are so tight that any type of penetration is painful. This specific condition needs diagnosis and treatment by a gynaecologist and/or women’s health physiotherapist.
Posture can make a hyper-tonic pelvic floor worse, particularly for those with shortened hamstrings who tend to sit on the sacrum rather than the sitting bones, so a slouchy posture. For women with hyper-tonic pelvic floor, focusing on relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor is key. This exercise, usually reserved for women in their last months of pregnancy is a good place to start: https://alittlefitter.com/2012/06/12/ready-for-birth-connecting-with-your-rose/
Pelvic organ prolapse
For some women the most obvious signs of a pelvic organ prolapse will be during intercourse. If, for example, the prolapse is coming through the vaginal wall, this will be felt during penetrative sex. Vaginal flatus (fanny farts) during sex are another sign of pelvic floor dysfunction. You need to get these issues checked out. First by your doctor for a referral or you could make a private appointment with a women’s health physiotherapist. Pelvic floor exercises are generally the first course of treatment for any prolapse and classes like Pilates which focus on the pelvic floor and core are a great way of maintaining good pelvic floor health for anyone recovering from prolapse. Here are some great tips on pelvic floor training from women’s health physiotherapist Melissa Millman: https://alittlefitter.com/2012/10/19/how-to-train-your-pelvic-floor-like-an-olympian/
Eve Ensler (of Vagina Monologues fame) reminded the world of the fact that the clitoris has around 8,000 nerve fibres, twice as many as those found on the head of a penis. This little pleasure button is where it all starts. It also happens to be surrounded by the muscles of the pelvic floor AND that the pudendal nerve, the nerve that triggers orgasm, is deeply rooted in the muscles of the pelvic floor. Take your attention further upstairs and it’s the muscle of the pelvic floor and the uterus contracting which gives you (and your partner) that Bingo! moment.
Weakened pelvic floor muscles will generally result in weaker contractions and it’s thought that these primary contractions during the female orgasm, stimulate secondary contractions, as in the big ‘O’. Put simply, the reason sporty girls have great sex isn’t just about their physical stamina, it’s about their great pelvic floor tone.
As women age, have babies or go through the menopause, the muscles of the pelvic floor are prone to becoming weaker and less elastic BUT staying active and keeping up with classes like Pilates can really help improve things in the bedroom department by maintaining or improving pelvic floor strength and tone. I have plenty of anecdotal research (husbands paying for Pilates renewals) to back up this point! It’s not just for older ladies though. If you’ve found sex is leaving you more ‘oh’ than ‘AUUURRGGGHH’ then it’s time to rev up the volume on your core training.
For loads of ideas on training your pelvic floor take a look at the following posts: