Friday, July 26, 2013

Sex & Your Pelvic Floor!

Did you know that physical therapy can help your sex life??

Duffy & Bracken, PT has a unique specialty called Pelvic Floor Physical Therapy that can benefit both men and women. There are very few physical therapy clinics that specialize in this and Duffy & Bracken was one of the first to do so. Not to mention, we now have 20 years experience in this area. 

Painful sex is NOT normal!! Many people experience ongoing pain during sex, and the longer they let this go on, the more chronic and stubborn it may become. We all know that a woman’s first sexual experience is often painful because the hymen, which is very sensitive may still be intact. Anything from tampons to GYN exams (with a speculum) or physical activity before intercourse may have widened the hymen. However, some women are unable to use tampons or have sex due to extreme sensitivity, pelvic muscle spasm or nerve pain-neuralgia. Fear-avoidance also adds to this problem since fear acts like cement to pain and makes it difficult to overcome. Understandably, everyone is afraid of pain but understanding where the pain is and why it’s there, in addition to learning techniques to decrease it; can slowly stretch the vaginal opening allowing you to have pain free intercourse. This process can be quite quick if you do your homework, and usually resolved in 6 to 12 visits or sometimes even less! Even chronic cases sometimes resolve quickly especially if you work at it with your therapist.  

Pelvic Floor conditions do not only affect women. Men who have pain with ejaculation may have painful or trigger points in their pelvic floor muscle (PFM) that can be treated with retraining and massaging of the muscle. Additionally, getting education that explains 'pain' can aid in reducing the fear and hopelessness that sometimes accompanies pelvic pain.

Pelvic pain and dysfunction may also cause urinary and bowel problems or vice versa since the pelvic floor controls voiding. Poor posture and muscular skeletal problems involving the back, pelvis, sacrum, coccyx (tailbone) and hips, can also be a cause or a result of pelvic dysfunction - or as we like to say the 'culprit or the victim.' 

Likewise, women may experience pelvic pain during or after menopause as we lose estrogen and the pelvic floor muscle thins and atrophies (muscle gets smaller). Men lose testosterone around age 60 and sexual dysfunction may accompany this. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscle can help keep and sustain erection plus improve orgasm for both men and women.

There are many reasons to keep the pelvic floor muscle healthy including: pain free sex, better orgasm, and improved sexual stamina. Not to mention, a healthy pelvic floor also prevents: prolapse (the bladder and cervix can fall out of the vagina), incontinence (leaking of urine or feces), and flatulence (gas). It also improves posture and results in a flatter stomach, as the pelvic floor muscle works together with the transverse abdominis (which holds the belly flat).   

Medical terms used to describe these problems include: pelvic floor dysfunction, dyspareunia, levator ani spasm, vulvodynia, vulvar vestibulitis, vaginismus, and erectile dysfunction. These conditions may accompany: coccydynia, low back, sacroiliac or hip diagnosis, urinary or bowel frequency, constipation or irritable bowel or bladder disorder, interstitial cystitis, and post-partum scars from tearing during childbirth.

Let us help you with these very personal problems today. So get a move on receiving help or recommending anyone you know to a specialized PT. We will make you feel comfortable in more ways than one!

Ann Duffy, M.A., P.T.
Owner & Pelvic Floor Expert