Thought Leader Series: Beyond Kegels: Improving your Sex Life with Pelvic Floor Exercises

After a woman gives birth in France, she doesn’t just go for a six-week examination to check for any serious problems or infection like we do in the United States. Instead, she begins her “la rééducation périnéale,” the re-education of the perineum, which in layperson terms means regaining the strength of her pelvic floor. A woman goes for several weeks to a practitioner trained to teach Kegel and other pelvic floor exercises using both manual and biofeedback techniques to measure the strengthening progress of the patient.

The reason the French government supports this program is because it is understood that in order for a woman to recover from giving birth, whether it was a c-section or vaginal birth, it is important for a woman to recover the strength of her pelvic floor. This will ensure the ability to have more, less-complicated births, and it prevents organ prolapse and incontinence problems which can occur right after birth or later in life.

Of course, there is the unspoken benefit of a woman having a strengthened perineum. She will be able to have orgasms more easily. If a woman’s body is more toned and healthy, she will be more inclined toward having sex, and the French have always believed in a person’s right to have a good sex life!

Because we do not have “la rééducation périnéale” in the United States, a woman needs to create her own pre-natal, post-natal, perimenopausal, postmenopausal exercise program. It is just as important to work on strengthening the perineum during and after menopause as it is before and after pregnancy. Due to the reduction of hormones during perimenopause, along with the natural loss of muscles mass that occurs as one ages, a woman’s pelvic floor becomes weaker as she gets older. If you are not orgasmic, you may also benefit from these exercises because in order to have a female orgasm many of these muscles must contract. The stronger the pelvic floor muscles are the easier it is to achieve the kind of contractions needed to stimulate an orgasm.

Woman are Reminded After Giving Birth to do Kegel Exercises

Basically, a Kegel is a contraction of the muscles that we use to stop the flow of urine. But doing just Kegel exercises does not strengthen enough of the muscle groups that are involved in supporting our organs. A woman needs to strengthen her abdominal muscles, her inner and outer thigh muscles, her glutes, along with her perineum to create a strong enough support muscle base to keep her organs from prolapsing.

Besides the important need to prevent incontinence, the other good news about doing the following pelvic floor and core support muscle exercises is you will slim down your stomach, butt, and inner thighs. These areas will look more attractive because they will be toner. Strengthening all of these muscles should also increase your ability to contract your muscles in order to have an orgasm more quickly and more often.

Improving your sex life
Posture is important.

Standing Posture

It all begins with posture. If you project your neck forward too much, slump your shoulders forward, let your stomach hang, tilt your pelvis too much forward or backward, and lock your knees when you stand, you will suffer from a variety of aches and pains. Plus you will not be supporting your internal organs properly.

To get a sense of proper posture, stand up straight and rock your hips back and forth. Stop rocking in between the farthest distance they can move back or forward. This is your neutral hip position, and you want to adjust yourself into it each time you stand.

Next, unlock your knees, as you’re putting too much strain on them by keeping them in a locked position. You are also not allowing the muscles around the knee, along with your thigh muscles to engage and strengthen. You want the support in your legs to come from your muscles, not from your knee joints.

Mentally move up to your mid-back. Relax your shoulders downward and back while you extend your neck upward. Do not thrust your neck forward, but instead, lift it up and back. Engage your abdominal muscles and your perineum. Lift them both in and upward.

You are now standing with good posture. Practice this anytime you are standing, such as when you are waiting in line or talking on the phone. By regularly correcting your posture you will begin to fix it subconsciously, and holding your body in a pain-free and supportive way will become natural.

Improving your sex life
There’s a right way to sit.

Sitting Posture

Good posture is not just important when you are standing. Since we sit most of the time, seated good posture may be even more critical to maintaining our muscle strength and support.

When you are in a chair make sure that the back of the chair encourages you to thrust your mid-back forward. Whenever you can remember, lift up your stomach muscles. This will encourage good support in your lower back along with keeping your abdominal muscles strong. Make sure your feet are firmly planted on the ground to ensure that you are getting body support from your thighs, which should be engaged when you are sitting. While you are in a chair, regularly pull back your chin to your throat to give the back of your neck a gentle stretch, and to remind yourself not to jut your chin forward, which overstresses your neck and shoulders muscles.

Developing postural body awareness is the most passive way to strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles. It will benefit you many other ways too, such as reducing muscle strain and making you look more confident and physically attractive.

Improving your sex life
Work the pelvis.

Pelvic Tilts

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, hip-width apart. Raise your pelvic region straight up in the air as high as you can lift your back without pain or strain. Contract your stomach muscles and squeeze your butt muscles while you lift. Try to add a Kegel contraction to your lifting motion. Hold for 5 seconds, and then slowly lower your pelvis to the floor. Repeat this exercise for 10 repetitions. Work your way up to doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions, and try to increase the time you hold your lift from 5 to 10 seconds.

Benefit: This exercise strengthens the lower back, abdominal, thigh, and pelvic floor (if you do Kegel contractions on the lift). All of these muscles together support the pelvic floor.

Improving your sex life
Work the pelvis.

Squats

Squats are important for strengthening your glutes and thigh muscles. It is very important not to thrust down too quickly when doing squats to improve pelvic floor strength so as to not strain the perineum. With your legs hip-width apart, contract your perineum as your lower your butt straight downward, do not thrust your butt backward. Use the heels of your feet for support. Lift from your heels and squat downward while putting your body weight on your heels. Do 10 repetitions and slowly increase to 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Benefit: Strengthens glutes, thighs, abdomen, and perineum. It also trains you to lift your pelvic floor upward whenever you squat which protects the perineum from unnecessary stress. Engaging the pelvic floor as often as you can during the day is key to maintaining its’ strength.

We have been focusing on the major muscle groups that are involved in supporting: the pelvic floor, glutes, abdomen, front thigh muscles and lower back. It is also important to strengthen some specific smaller muscles that are part of the organ support system.

Improving your sex life

Lateral Leg Lifts

Lie sideways on the floor with your legs on top of each other and your body weight being supported by the elbow of the ground leg and the hand of the top leg. Extend your top leg away from your body using your heel as the lead. Lift the leg up a few inches and lower it back down, almost touching the bottom leg. Repeat this lift 10 times. Your goal is to work up to doing 3 sets of 10 lifts. Try to do a Kegel contraction each time you raise your leg up.

Benefit: This exercise strengthens the muscles around the hip joint which are important for balance and pelvic support. This also strengthens the inner thigh which is an important muscle to be able to contract in order to have an orgasm. Lastly, if you are able to do a Kegel contraction too, you will work out your pelvic floor muscles, at the same time that you are strengthening their support muscles.

Improving your sex life

Forward Leg Lift

Lie on your back. Bend one knee and lift the opposite leg straight into the air while turning your foot outward. Lift this leg up and down slowly, keeping your foot turned out, without completely touching the ground for 10 repetitions. Contract your perineum when you lift your leg. Work up to doing 3 sets of 10 repetitions.

Benefit: This exercise not only engages the inner thigh muscles, it strengths the abdominal and lower back muscles at the same time. With the addition of a Kegel contraction this exercise strengths all of the key muscles involved in pelvic floor support.

It can be a slow and tedious process to regain your pelvic strength, but the benefits are multifold. Most critically you will prevent prolapse of your internal organs that can lead to incontinence. Your sex life will improve greatly because not only will you have a better body image because you butt, legs and stomach will be toner, but your ability to achieve orgasm will increase because the muscles necessary to contract for orgasm will be stronger. Link to related content on our blog for lubricants and medication that can also help to improve your sex life.

Diane Balch worked for years in the health industry. She was a nutrition health, and fitness book buyer for Katonah Organics Inc, NY.

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