Orgasms, Kegels and Pelvic Floors, Oh My
I couldn’t orgasm, and I was pissed. I was frustrated with my partner, his predictable pumping, and his unsatisfying sexual surrender. I was frustrated with myself, my malicious mind, my ravenous body, and maybe, just our overall routine.
As one of those ‘strong, independent woman’ types, I knew he didn’t claim all the blame. Men do need to know what they’re doing - as well as respectfully explore our bodies - but at the end of the day, I knew it was my own disconnected mind and body that were stopping any kind of supreme satisfaction.
So I did what any strong, independent, woman would do. I started googling. Not only myself - but the biggest, grandest O I knew - Online.
Google. Search. “why can’t I #$&%! orgasm?”
With 100 million results in less than 0.39 seconds, I was clearly not the only one in this mess. In fact, 75% of women can’t orgasm solely from penetration. Obviously, there is no ‘one pump fits all’ when it comes to female pleasure.
And then I got sucked in to the black hole of female pleasure that can only be compared directly to NASA’S voyage of discovery when it comes to actual black holes. Lots of questions. No answers. Minimal research. A universe of dissatisfaction.
I did unearth one major theme in the realm of female pleasure - the power of the Kegel. At least I thought. Kegels are pelvic floor exercises, and article after article promised a better chance of orgasm, just a hop, skip and floor squeeze away. It took me some time to realize that Kegels are more like the fad diet of female pleasure, an alleged quick and easy solution to placate the complex layers of a problematic pelvic reality.
BUT it did inspire my curiosity to dive deeper into the world of sexual health and wellbeing, and here I am today, exploring all things pelvic floor, which turns out to be one of our most crucial body parts - that no one is really talking about.
An undefined number of women worldwide suffer painfully because of their pelvic floors, a body part meant to support both pure pleasure AND fundamental function.
I decided to attend a Pelvic Floor workshop with Liron Murphy, a knowledgeable, experienced and ‘passionate about helping all pelvic floors’ Physiotherapist, who recently opened a clinic in Tel Aviv.
Since the first step towards positive change is awareness, I felt inspired to share some of the juice about my journey down under - because guess what? It’s time to air out our pelvic floors, once and for all.
WTF IS THE PELVIC FLOOR AND WHY DOES IT MATTER?
Puberty. Periods. Pregnancy. Birth. Menopause. At every phase, our pelvic floor sits like a hammock inside, literally holding up all of our organs, holding in our pee and poo, and creating our central core, which includes our diaphragm, stomach, back and floor. Our core parts are connected by various muscles - so when we have a problem with one of these things, it may likely affect another, especially if not taken care of properly.
THE FACE OF FASCIA
If you haven’t heard of it yet, allow me to introduce you to fascia. Fascia is like that meaty steaky part of our interior related to both flexibility and tension. Call it your connective tissue, or the glue that holds our organs in place, which makes up a major part of the pelvic floor. Today, there are practices where you can roll it, press it, massage it, cup it, all of which creates healthier connections within our body.
But if your fascia isn’t healthy, it can create a host of uncomfortable symptoms across the core.
That means that if your pee flows loose without your permission, if you experience lower back pains, unexplained pain during sex or overall vaginal discomfort – it could have everything to do with your pelvic floor.
This omnipotent pelvic floor relates to everything we do - lifting heavy things, coughing, laughing, breathing, carrying babies – our pelvic floor is what is holding us in, up and together. For the women who might piddle a little when they laugh really hard – okay, sometimes a good laugh IS glorious...but it could also be your pelvic floor’s fault.
But don’t necessarily start doing your Kegels just yet. (and see #3 below)
While my journey began in search of a simple orgasm (ha), what I uncovered was a wealth of healthy knowledge about pelvic floors, which touches not only on our sexual health but is deeply involved in our overall well being as women.
Now that you have a basic understanding of what the PF is responsible for, here are the 4 most intriguing tips I picked up along the way:
4 INTRIGUING GOODIES I LEARNED ABOUT THE PELVIC FLOOR
1. One in 3 women suffer from pelvic floor issues.
Is it your mom, your sister, or your best friend? You may not know because many women don’t go chatting freely about their pelvic floors. Problems with our pelvic areas are often kept under wraps. Some women might believe that piddling a little is normal and not understand that something is wrong. While it is a common happening among women, it is a symptom that can and should be treated asap.
Some women may share their pain with a GYN, who either ignore or minimize a symptom they can’t see. Well. There are 3 common diagnosis for women with pelvic floor issues. Listen up.
Also to note, these percentages are listed across the board in the PF field of knowledge; however, it’s believed that more women encounter issues than actually fess up to them.
INCONTINENCE – 30% of women experience this. It’s when you laugh, cough, or breathe too hard, and your pee escapes your body without letting you know. It could also mean you need to pee often and URGENTLY.
PROLAPSE – 40% of women experience this. It’s when you feel discomfort, like a heavy ball in your vagina. It means your little hammock might be damaged, and the muscles around her likely need to be treated with care.
DIASTASIS – 40% of women post pregnancy experience this. It’s when your ab muscles don’t fully close, causing a separation between the muscles and tissue. It commonly causes lower back problems, and is fully treatable.
Whether one of these sounds familiar or not – it’s crucial to be aware of these conditions, and know that women have been living in unnecessary pain for ages. Women, it’s important to seek help in the right places, so listen up to Goodie #2.
2. Pelvic Floor specialists exist, and they may help you more than a GYN.
All of the above issues can be managed with exercise and physiotherapy. Of course, there is no one size fits all version. All women, all bodies, from the windows to the wombs to the pelvic floors, are different. The good news is, there are ways to treat this issue to feel better and live better everyday.
In addition to core-based physical therapy, another way to cope is to ensure you’re exercising the right parts of your body, aka strength and conditioning training. Think weightlifting for a new generation of women who want to feel strong in their bodies and understand the importance of a healthy core.
Today, many pregnant and postnatal women are awakened to the need to take care of their cores and floors, their symptoms finally spotlighted, forced to connect and listen to their bodies in a new way. For some women, it’s too late to make serious changes. But for all, there is hope for healing, and for training your body properly to support feeling healthier.
For women who experience any down under issues or have had unsatisfactory GYN experiences, seek a pelvic floor physical therapist in your area. For women of any age who want to exercise your core muscles, seek a quality strength and conditioning training coach.
3. Kegels might do more harm than good.
Kegels seem to be all the rage; however, kegels are NOT for all women, and might in fact do more harm than good, depending on the state of your pelvic health. If your floor is overactive and you’re experiencing lower back pain, incontinence, constipation or sexual dysfunction - kegels might not be for you.
Also, to the passionate pilates lovers - here is just something to keep in mind:
Most of the time, Kegels are done incorrectly. Often it becomes about the squeeze, but in reality, we can’t forget how important it is to release. Just like a jellyfish moves her top, we must remember, what goes up must come down. Long story short, as much as you squeeze – make sure to release. Here’s why.
4. Our vaginas need time to chill out.
YES! That V spot needs some selfcare too. Because our vagina’s are living tense lives, and they are in dire need of some Rest + Relaxation. Think of it as a spa day for the space between your legs.
Do yourself a favor right now and just bring gentle attention to the tops of your legs and work your way up to that V spot right between your legs. Focus in. Are you tensing? Are you squeezing? Take a moment to mindfully relax this VIP area. Breathe out and really try to flood your V spot with some release, allowing any tension to let go. If you need to, tense it all up first, and then roll down into the relaxation. Did you notice tenseness? Do you notice a difference when you relax?
We’re so tense all the time and we likely don’t realize it. Take your jaw for example. Is it clenched, or chilling? Is there a way you can relax it so it’s not bound so tightly? Take a moment to shift, acknowledging the tension in your jaw. If your upper lips are clenched, think about how your lower lips may feel too!
Like our bodies and minds, our vaginas need space to breathe, to relax, to be. Then and only then, are we able to fully explore the authentic sensations living within our bodies, and manage them right.
Here are 4 things you can do TODAY to create healthier habits for a stronger floor and core.
Do you breathe into your belly or your chest? Learning how to breathe properly is the key to helping your pelvic floor and relieving some of the pressure we constantly put on her. Proper breathing means inhaling into your belly to allow for a healthy dose of oxygen to run through your core. Most people breathe into their chest, but it’s time - Free your belly. Be mindful. When you breathe in everything needs to open. If you are tense, your core stays tense.
Align your rib cage over your pelvic bones. All day, every day. Clearly this won’t be possible all day, every day - because life - but the more you become aware of your posture, the more you can correct it. When your body is physically aligned, it helps your muscles and everything in between stay balanced. Especially when our bodies begin that small human growing process, this is crucial. Whether you’re carrying shopping bags or babies, stay aware of how you carry yourself.
Do you feel strong and capable in your body? Are your physical energy levels high or low? All the little physical things that hint with pain, if they aren’t acknowledged or taken care of – become much bigger problems. Specifically, can you touch your toes? Can you deep squat? Making sure you can move your body in these natural ways can help make you feel healthier, stronger, better, faster, longer.
We put a lot of pressure on our bodies. We push, we strain, we tense, we contract. We tend to live in a constant push against our bodies – unless we become more aware of them. If we learn to be aware and pay attention to this tension, we can choose to relax our muscles, reduce unneeded strain and stress, and make pelvic floors happier all around.
Popping the Pelvic Floor Bubble
Taking care of our pelvic floor is much more than just going to the gym, or strength conditioning or having good body habits. As women who so often feel disconnected or shamed about our bodies, emotional and psychological factors play an enormous role in how we treat them.
And let’s not even begin to talk about how period and pregnancy hormones cause cyclical chaos within our systems. And that's only touching on our internal body issues.
The bottom line is, the more you connect to your own body, the more aware you are of her workings, cycles, flows and habits, the more you can be prepared, both mentally and physically, to live your best life, settling into your little body hammock happily, and relaxing into life.
May all women take their power and pleasure into their own hands, and create healthier habits to live happier for the sake of all bodies, brains, bedrooms and babies.
For any woman dealing with a mystery pain, there may be a diagnosis and treatment. Please share this information with any women you know who might need it, and even those you don’t.
While some of this information in this article is based on research and experience, most was shared from Liron Murphy. Join in one of her workshops or book an appointment at her Tel Aviv clinic, Momentum Physiotherapy, specializing in sports therapy, women’s health and pelvic physiotherapy.
For strength training and conditioning, get in touch with Natalie Wasser from Mpower, who specializes in pre and post natal strength conditioning, and works with women to create stronger cores. Stay tuned to hear about what I learned during my first strength conditioning sesh!
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