Problems with physical intimacy? Pelvic floor exercises can help
It’s February, and our minds can’t help but turn to love and intimacy, thanks to Valentine’s Day. Physical intimacy is an important part of our physical, mental and marital health, but when there is trouble in the bedroom — such as pain or an inability to have an orgasm — many women are embarrassed to seek treatment.
“People tend to think it will just go away,” said Sabina Weaver, a pelvic floor physical therapist at His Therapy. “The problem is that it isn't like a cold. It won't go away, it will just escalate.”
According to Weaver, there are a lot of physical reasons women can have difficulty with intimacy. These can include organ prolapse, hyper and hypo muscle tone, trauma (childbirth anyone?) and scar tissue — particularly from an episiotomy or even just an inability to relax the pelvic floor muscles. While some issues may require surgery, other issues can be fixed with pelvic floor therapy or a combination of surgery and pelvic floor therapy. According to Weaver, signs of a weak pelvic floor can include lower back pain, hip pain and sciatica or even an inability to have an orgasm.
“When you look at muscle like the shoulder, if you go to lift something and you can’t lift it, that can be a sign that the muscle is weak. A weak pelvic floor may not cause any pain, but it can cause a woman not to enjoy sex,” she said. “We can often resolve issues within four or five visits.”
While most of us have heard that Kegel exercises are helpful for a weak pelvic floor, Weaver says it is not that simple.
“You have to learn to relax the muscles and contract the pelvic floor the right way,” she said. “Ninety percent of the people who do Kegels are doing them wrong.”
During therapy, Weaver teaches women to correct way to contract and relax the pelvic floor muscles and gives them a customized exercise program to help strengthen or relax the pelvic floor. She educates women on lifestyle changes that can help with bowel or bladder functioning and decrease the likelihood of further weakening.
Weaver also offers couples therapy to teach a husband or partner to help you relax.
“If you have pain, you will never have spontaneous sex,” she said. “I teach perineal massage so that men can learn to help their partners loosen up tissue and relax.”
Weaver urges women to seek help as soon as they see symptoms.
“We are meant to be physically and psychologically intimate our whole lives,” she said.
If you are interested in more information about pelvic floor therapy, visit www.histherapy.net.