Exercises for a Stronger Body : How Do I Do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
How fit is your pelvic floor?
It turns out a strong pelvic floor can make everything better – from back pain to your sex life…
Words by Christina Quaine
Have you ever been told to engage your pelvic floor in a Pilates class and had no idea what that actually means? You’re not alone. According to reports, 30 per cent of women are doing Kegel exercises (pelvic exercises devised by American gynaecologist Arnold Kegel in the 40s) incorrectly. ‘Your pelvic floor is a group of muscles extending from the pubic bone at the front of your body, through to the coccyx [your tailbone] at the back,’ explains Alison Wright, consultant gynaecologist and spokesperson for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists. The muscles work almost like a hammock, supporting your organs as well as your bladder, uterus and bowel. If you can stop your wee mid-flow, that’s your PF working and, likewise, when you hold in wind at an inopportune moment (come on, we’ve all been there), that’s your pelvic floor, too.
CAN IT MEAN BETTER SEX?
A recent study published in the International Urogynaecology Journal found that women with strong pelvic floor muscles reported better orgasms and greater arousal than those with a weaker pelvic floor (where sensation and satisfaction may be decreased). If you’ve had children or are expecting, a separate study from Marmara University in Istanbul found that sexual arousal, lubrication and orgasm were higher in women who did PF exercises after childbirth than those who didn’t.
Experts believe that stronger muscles mean increased sensitivity when you’re having sex. Tania Boler, founder of Elvie, a new fitness app which works your pelvic floor, says, ‘Ultimately, a strong pelvic floor means increased blood flow to this region, your muscles become toned and the end result is a heightened sense of pleasure.’
HOW CAN IT WEAKEN?
One of the main issues associated with a weak pelvic floor is urinary incontinence, particularly when laughing or coughing. It affects a third of women and, while it becomes more of a problem the older you get, taking preventative measures in your twenties and thirties is key. ‘Weight gain, prolonged coughing and straining due to constipation can all put pressure on your pelvic floor, causing it to weaken,’ explains Wright.
Video: Pelvic Floor Training
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