pelvic floor exercises
can improve sexual satisfaction.
Back then, US gynaecologist Dr Kegel found that the women he treated with pelvic floor exercises after childbirth
also reported having better orgasms. His work on women’s pelvic floor health has led to pelvic floor exercises also becoming known as “Kegels”. Your pelvic floor
is like a muscular hammock in your pelvis, supporting your bladder, bowel and vagina. The nerves that supply feeling to your pelvic floor also provide sensation to your genitals.
You're likely to notice the difference if you work on your pelvic floor regularly. Women who do daily pelvic floor exercises, or Kegels, often report better sexual arousal, sensation and ability to orgasm after only a few months.
During an orgasm, there’s an increase in blood flow to your muscles, and then a series of flickering muscular contractions. The more efficient your pelvic floor is, the stronger these contractions are, making orgasms more satisfying.
also builds good muscle tone in your vagina, meaning it can stretch more while you're having sex
. This is more stimulating for your muscles and nerves, which all helps you to have great sex.
Your pelvic floor is your friend, so ask your partner to help you get to know it better. Your partner could insert one or more fingers into your vagina for you to squeeze against. You'll both learn more about your pelvic floor this way! Of course, using your own fingers or an adult toy has the same effect if you don’t have a partner handy.
That said, Kegels won't solve every sexual problem. There is surprisingly little research into how female sexuality works, and what there is often concludes with a shoulder shrug and “well, it’s complicated”.
How sexy you feel depends on lots of things — your relationship, your body type, your mental well-being, as well as physical factors such as hormones, nerves, blood supply, joints and muscles. A woman’s body can work perfectly, and she can still have a poor sex life because of other issues.
If you have pelvic pain, or penetration is uncomfortable, don't do your Kegels until you've seen a physiotherapist. You can ask your GP for a referral. Strengthening a muscle that has tender spots or is tight is likely to make your symptoms worse.
Having an orgasm is a great way to relax your pelvic floor, by the way. And lubrication can be very helpful for sexual problems that are related to pain on penetration or hormone changes.
If you're breastfeeding
, for example, your body produces less oestrogen, the hormone that helps to lubricate your vagina when you're in the mood for sex. Search online for a pH-neutral vaginal lubricant, which is especially helpful if you have sensitive skin.
Some people find it embarrassing to talk about sexuality and sexual problems with their GP. If the idea of speaking to your GP is too awful for words, print off this "Doctor, I have an embarrassing problem" sheet
. Tick the words that apply to you and slide it, wordlessly, across the table.
You are entitled to a satisfying sex life, and your GP
will have helped many people with similar problems. There really is no need to put up with it.
How to have better sex: Get to know your bits!
Last reviewed May 2017