When you think about sex and your pelvic floor, the first thing that might come to mind is kegel exercises, which isn’t a bad thing. Learning how to perform kegels can — in some cases — help women and all individuals with vaginal anatomy reach orgasm and improve sexual pleasure. But there’s much more you can do to condition your pelvic floor for pleasure. There are levels to this game. Every body and every vagina is unique in terms of physiology, and every person is unique in terms of what turns them on. And what worked in the past may not get the same results now or in the future. Our bodies and minds are always shifting.
In a recent live event, we were joined by Origin PT, Dr. Ashley Rawlins and OBGYN, Author of The Vagina Book, and Maude Advisor, Dr. Jenn Conti, to gather insight on how the pelvic floor works and share practices that vagina owners can use to get more familiar with their most intimate muscles and help maximize their pleasure.
Connect with your pelvic floor
Picture the pelvic floor like a hammock of muscles running from your pubic bone to your tailbone (see the diagram below), and surrounding the vagina, urethra, and anus. Our pelvic floors are master multitaskers with functions that include providing critical support to pelvic organs, holding in pee and poop, facilitating blood flow, helping to stabilize the core, and promoting sexual health.
Take a second now to connect with your pelvic floor:
Breathe deep and draw your attention down to your lower abdomen, between your legs. Can you feel your pelvic floor moving down as you inhale and releasing back up as you exhale? It may help to place a hand over your perineum (the area between your vaginal and anal opening) and see if you can feel it moving. The pelvic floor can contract, lengthen or release, and bear down — if you’ve given birth vaginally, you definitely know that feeling.
How your pelvic floor supports arousal & orgasm
When functioning optimally, the pelvic floor will be active during arousal, causing:
- Increased blood flow to muscles, tissue, nerves, and the vagina
- Engorgement of the clitoris and surrounding vaginal anatomy — i.e., the “female erection”
- A potential increase in sexual pleasure
- The sympathetic nervous system triggers ripples of muscle contractions, including those in the pelvic floor
- Actively contracting the pelvic floor may intensify orgasm
If you’re having penetrative sex, the pelvic floor muscles surrounding the vaginal opening must also be able to relax to make room for a penis or toy. If they’re unable to relax, it can make penetration painful or even impossible.
How do I know if my pelvic floor is out of whack?
Pelvic floor dysfunction is incredibly common, impacting more than 1 in 5 women. Life events such as pregnancy, birth, and menopause, or medical conditions such as endometriosis or PCOS, leave you at risk for developing pelvic floor muscle dysfunction. And when your pelvic floor muscles aren’t working properly, sexual functioning is likely to suffer.
Signs that your pelvic floor might be experiencing “underactivity”:
- You have decreased vaginal sensation than before
- You exerperience pelvic heaviness or a feeling of falling out
- You leak when you cough or sneeze (stool, gas or urine)
Signs of overactive pelvic floor muscles:
- Vaginal penetration is painful (including sex, tampon insertion, or GYN exams)
- You have difficulties emptying your bladder, or you have to strain to poop
- Increased bladder or bowel urgency or frequency
Using kegels to enhance sexual pleasure
By voluntarily contracting your pelvic floor during sex, you may be able to boost your pleasure.
Here are a few places to start:
- Imagine trying to pick up a blueberry with your vagina. Grab that blueberry and lift it upwards. This should feel similar to trying to stop your pee mid-flow.
- Insert a vibrator, toy, or your partner's finger into your vagina or anus. Use your pelvic floor to give it a squeeze.
- During penetrative sex, try using the muscles of your pelvic floor to pull a dildo or your partner's penis up and deeper inside you.
As we mentioned earlier, conditioning your pelvic floor varies from person to person. Kegels aren’t the end-all-be-all answer. But, if you experience a lack of tone, kegel exercises can help!
You can also try:
- Kegel weights for an extra challenge
- Yoga poses that target your core like planks, warrior poses, and sun salutations
- Diaphragmatic breathing to encourage movement and coordination in your pelvic floor
If you’re facing overactive muscles, try these practices to help your pelvic floor release and relax:
- Butterfly Pose to release your inner thighs
- Child’s Pose can help release the posterior chain and pelvic floor
- Practicing squats helps lengthen and open the hips and pelvic floor
- Diaphragmatic breathing to improve movement and coordination
More Resources to Get You in the Mood
Sexual arousal and pleasure are so multi-faceted. We love these tools for getting in the mood, normalizing what turns you on, and exploring your body.
- Toys like the thoughtfully designed vibes from Maude
- Lube, lube, and more lube
- The tips and advice for finding your orgasm at OMGyes.com and Sex with Emily
- Dipsea and Rosy for audio-erotica
To dig deeper into the workings of the pelvic floor and how it impacts your sexual experience, catch the full recorded event here.