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Amidst the red cheeks and furtive glances, sex is actually something that interests or affects most of us.
A recent survey at the NHS hospital I practice from showed that over 60% of the women referred to me with pelvic floor problems reported some difficulty with their sex life. They told me that this bothered them as much as, if not more than, the problem they had been sent with.
Sex has many health benefits that contribute to quality of life. It can stimulate mental activity, help to keep your vagina elastic and moist (particularly after the menopause), release oxytocin (a natural pain killer) and it can even burn up to 200 calories! Despite being British, many of us are keen to maintain a good level of intimacy within our relationships and feel a real sense of loss if our pelvic floor problem interferes with that.
Many women who have a pelvic floor problem find that this has a huge impact on their ability to have a normal intimate relationship with their partner. This may be down to pain or discomfort or simply a sense of embarrassment about their problems. Some women may leak urine during sexual intercourse or just find that they have gone off sex.
Successfully treating a woman’s pelvic floor problem can not only stop her leaking or her sensation of prolapse, it can put the spring back into her relationship. The pelvic floor muscles have an important part to play in female arousal. The pelvic floor muscles surround the clitoris and also help with changes inside the vagina that make penetration more comfortable and enjoyable. Research shows us that having strong pelvic floor muscles helps a woman to reach orgasm more easily and that women who perform pelvic floor exercises have a more enjoyable response to sex.
So, next time you reach for the book or turn over when your partner suggests more than a cuddle, try a few pelvic floor exercises and you might be surprised at the result…
By Alison Bourne MA (Cantab) BSc MCSP ACPWH