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effects of pelvic floor muscle strength on orgasm
Pelvic Floor Muscle Strength and its Affect on Orgasm | Image courtesy of Simon Berger via Unsplash

Let's Look at the Effects of Pelvic Floor Muscle Strength on Orgasm

Hint: strong pelvic floor muscles = strong orgasm 

The world is learning more and more about the pelvic floor and the many ways that it can be treated. At Femina Physical Therapy, we have spoken about pelvic rehab for urinary, bowel, birth, pregnancy, bladder, erectile issues, and many more. But we all know the question that everyone wants answered: Does pelvic floor strength affect orgasm?

Well reader, you came to the right place.  

There is growing research on the influence of the pelvic floor on orgasm duration and intensity. That’s how long the orgasm lasts, as well as how strong it is. Contrary to the usual content on social media feeds, we have some good news to share about how your pelvic floor affects your orgasm, as well as how to improve your orgasm!

Some people have their leg day at the gym. Should you treat the pelvic floor muscles the same way?

The pelvic floor and the pelvic floor muscle is an important part of your anatomy. It contributes to pelvic and spinal stability, bowel, bladder and sexual function. The pelvic floor muscles are skeletal muscles, meaning they are just like your biceps, quads, hamstrings, obliques -- you have voluntary control to contract and relax them. And to condition muscles in general, the American College of Sports Medicine recommends a variety of exercises that includes coordination, strength training, and flexibility. Pelvic floor muscle contractions (otherwise known as Kegels) are the most basic form of strengthening. Everyone should know how and when to do them! However, pelvic floor muscle strength works in a dynamic system with your hips, low back, abdominal wall, your breath, and much more. Finding the right amount of both strength and flexibility is key, so we encourage you to avoid doing 3,000 kegels every day after reading this. Training kegels to eventually work as they naturally do with the rest of the body is optimal, and both relaxing and contracting your pelvic floor muscles is needed. Working with a pelvic floor physical therapist will help address what your specific anatomy needs are, as not all kegels are created equal. 

Before you start the overzealous 3,000 kegels a day…

The trick is getting the coordination of your pelvic floor muscles down.

One study (6) found that most people (women, in this study) are not actually contracting pelvic floor muscles when told to kegel. Sometimes women are actually doing the opposite - pushing downward with abdominal muscles, inner thigh, or squeezing their glutes instead of their pelvic floor muscles. Additionally, performing pelvic floor contractions is not always the best choice for some. This is especially true for those who have a painful, restricted pelvic floor and may need to find a better balance with mobility work.

What happens to our anatomy during orgasm?

Reflexively, the pelvic floor muscles contract when you have an orgasm. The pelvic floor enhances pleasure for both partners in the relationship through these muscles that assist in the closure around the vaginal opening and the anus -- enhancing pleasure for those who have vaginal and anal sex. Stronger pelvic floor muscles lead to a more forceful explosion of vaginal fluid during orgasm, as well as a more forceful penile ejaculation.  

The relationship between the clitoral hood and pelvic floor muscle strength

Another reason why the pelvic floor can help enhance sexual function is because of its close relationship with the clitoral hood. Stronger pelvic floor muscles can create more stimulation and displacement to this sensitive area. Through the millions of years of human evolution, the only organ whose only role is to provide pleasure is the clitoris. Although the clitoris is usually the star player in orgasm function, every human body is different and there are many pathways to achieve orgasm. Figuring out how, with yourself and a partner, is the fun part.

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How does pelvic floor physical therapy help?

Targeted pelvic floor muscle strengthening through pelvic rehabilitation was found to improve achievement of orgasm, performance, and even the subjective level of sexual desire in study (1). Secondly, pelvic floor muscle contractions were found to enhance subjective and physiological measures of arousal. When combined with self-generated fantasy, tensing also augmented arousal (2). When a group of women were treated for stress urinary incontinence with pelvic floor strengthening, they found that these women reported better sexual function as well (3). Win, win! 

Some more good news: The vice-versa - An orgasm helps pelvic floor muscle strength!

Interestingly, one study (4)  found that in postpartum women who had uncomplicated vaginal deliveries, sexually induced orgasm contributed to better pelvic floor strength and sexual function! Researchers stated that sexual function and pelvic floor muscle strength can be significantly improved with the addition of orgasm as a therapeutic tool. This is great news for every woman who has a hard time coordinating pelvic floor exercises. This is a naturally occurring orgasm that can be part of pelvic floor rehabilitation, can be practiced at home, in addition to gentle kegels. 

 We hope that you have enjoyed this article about the science behind sexual pleasure, and how to hack it to enhance it for yourself and your partner. If you are unsure if pelvic floor strengthening is right for you, or are unsure how to perform them, see a pelvic floor physical therapist near you! 

https://feminapt.com/about-us/schedule-an-appointment

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References: 

1. Beji NK, Yalcin O, Erkan HA. The effect of pelvic floor training on sexual function of treated patients. Int Urogynecol J Pelvic Floor Dysfunct. 2003 Oct;14(4):234-8; discussion 238. doi: 10.1007/s00192-003-1071-2. Epub 2003 Aug 27. PMID: 14530833.

2. Messé MR, Geer JH. Voluntary vaginal musculature contractions as an enhancer of sexual arousal. Arch Sex Behav. 1985 Feb;14(1):13-28. doi: 10.1007/BF01541349. PMID: 3977582.

3. Serati M, Braga A, Di Dedda MC, Sorice P, Peano E, Biroli A, Torella M, Cromi A, Uccella S, Salvatore S, Ghezzi F. Benefit of pelvic floor muscle therapy in improving sexual function in women with stress urinary incontinence: a pretest-posttest intervention study. J Sex Marital Ther. 2015;41(3):254-61. doi: 10.1080/0092623X.2014.889052. Epub 2014 Mar 20. PMID: 24512197.

4. Bhat GS, Shastry A. Sexually Induced Orgasm to Improve Postpartum Pelvic Floor Muscle Strength and Sexual Function in Primiparous Women After Vaginal Delivery: A Prospective Randomized Two-Arm Study. J Sex Med. 2022 Nov;19(11):1634-1643. doi: 10.1016/j.jsxm.2022.08.189. Epub 2022 Sep 25. PMID: 36167664.

5.https://health.gov/our-work/nutrition-physical-activity/physical-activity-guidelines/current-guidelines

6. Bump RC, Hurt WG, Fantl JA, Wyman JF. Assessment of Kegel pelvic muscle exercise performance after brief verbal instruction. Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1991 Aug;165(2):322-7; discussion 327-9. doi: 10.1016/0002-9378(91)90085-6. PMID: 1872333.

What Our Patients Have to Say

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Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

I can’t speak highly enough of the theapists at Femina Physical Therapy and how much they have helped me grow, discover, and love my body. I had had painful sex for my entire life, and didn’t know that there was anything that could be done about it. It was at the point where my husband and I were not having sex for MONTHs, because it was just too frustrating, and I hated feeling like I was the ONLY woman out there who had this problem, especially at my age. I finally brought it up to my doctor because I was turning 40 and my husband and I were barely having enough sex to conceive. And she brought up pelvic floor, PT. I didn’t even know this was a “thing”.

Read more: Testimonial by R.M., Age 40

Testimonial by Fritzette H.

I went to Heather after the birth of my third child. It was lucky, really, that I was referred to her, because my doctor had referred me to a surgeon for a possible hysterectomy or pelvic wall rebuild. Thankfully, I went to Heather before undergoing either surgery, she was able to fix the problem. She has studied extensively in women's health--even written a book about it--and was able to diagnose my problem, suggest a course of treatment (6 weeks), and then follow through with said treatment. By the end, as she said, I was as good as gold. Boy, was it worth it! Though uncomfortable to talk about, much less write about, it is worth getting the word out there. If you have painful intercourse, especially after birth or other trauma, the treatment may be as simple as Physical Therapy (with Heather, of course). I highly recommend her.

-- Fritzette H., 3/24/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by Jackie W.

I was in multiple car accidents a decade ago, and I have been to many physical therapists through the years without success. They found the root of my lower back pain problems and after nearly a decade of barely being able to walk I finally can again without pain. They are also the best pelvic floor pts and the only ones who found the connection between my pelvic floor and lower back problems. If you need help with physical pain, they are your answer.

-- Jackie W., 1/19/17 via Yelp!

Testimonial by R.H.

No one could tell me why I was having pain during sex--sharp pain, not just uncomfortable, pain. I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat after researching several different options. I had seen a specialist who told me physical therapy would not help and my only option was surgery. I really didn't want to go that route, so when we got a referral, I decided to try it--it can't hurt, I thought. I am so glad I did. She diagnosed the problem right away, which was a relief in itself.

To know why I was having pain eased my mind immensely. And to hear that she could fix it without surgery was another relief. She said she could fix the problem in 6 weeks. I think it was actually 4 for me. She was very methodical, and treated me as an intelligent human being capable of participating in my own recovery. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. She did not try to prolong my session numbers, she worked hard to accommodate my schedule (and the fact that I had to bring a baby to sessions), and she was completely honest the entire time. It is so hard to find someone with these characteristics, much less a professional who is so good at what she does. She has my highest respect.

-- R.H.

Testimonial by R.H.

No one could tell me why I was having pain during sex--sharp pain, not just uncomfortable, pain. I was referred to Heather Jeffcoat after researching several different options. I had seen a specialist who told me physical therapy would not help and my only option was surgery. I really didn't want to go that route, so when we got a referral, I decided to try it--it can't hurt, I thought. I am so glad I did. She diagnosed the problem right away, which was a relief in itself.

To know why I was having pain eased my mind immensely. And to hear that she could fix it without surgery was another relief. She said she could fix the problem in 6 weeks. I think it was actually 4 for me. She was very methodical, and treated me as an intelligent human being capable of participating in my own recovery. I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. She did not try to prolong my session numbers, she worked hard to accommodate my schedule (and the fact that I had to bring a baby to sessions), and she was completely honest the entire time. It is so hard to find someone with these characteristics, much less a professional who is so good at what she does. She has my highest respect.

-- R.H.

Testimonial by Jamie M.

I have been going to see Heather for a while now, and I can't tell you enough how much she has improved my quality of life. Heather specializes in issues like pelvic floor, but I see her for other orthopedic issues.

I have a lot of chronic joint pain and dysfunction issues (back, hips, neck) that require that have ongoing physical therapy maintenance. The effects of my problem joints/areas overlap and interconnect with each other in complex ways, so helping me requires really having a complete understanding of the entire skeletal and muscular system. Pain does not always appear where the problem actually is, the human body is a twisty, many-layered puzzle. I have an exercise program I do at home and I am very functional, but there are just something things I need a PT to help me out with.

Read more: Testimonial by Jamie M.

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