The pelvic floor is a large hammock or sling of muscles stretching from side to side across the floor of the pelvis in both women and men. It is attached to the pubic bone in front, and to the tail end of the spine behind. The openings from the bladder, the bowels and, for women, the vagina, all pass through this hammock.
The correct anatomical name for these muscles are the pubococcygeus muscles, but nowadays they are more commonly called the pc muscles, or even more commonly, the pelvic floor muscles.
Sometimes they are referred to as a single muscle, but it is more actually more accurate to talk of them in the plural, as there are a number of muscle groups that together make up this muscle sling.
Many women are aware that they should exercise these muscles but very few do it regularly and successfully. Most women who have had children will have been advised on the importance of pelvic floor exercise to restore muscle tone after childbirth, and muscle strengthening was identified as an appropriate treatment for stress urinary incontinence back in the 1950s.
It was during the development of an exercise program for urinary incontinence that an interesting side effect was observed by Dr Arnold Kegel, the originator of these exercises. He claimed that women doing his exercises were finding it easier to reach more frequent and more intense orgasms.
To understand why, consider what happens in your body when you experience an orgasm:
Your heart pumps faster and your breathing gets heavier to fuel those tensing muscles.
Hormones are pumped round your brain and body, telling you this is enjoyable.
Blood is pumped to your genitals to create the tension that will ultimately trigger a pudendal reflex (muscular spasm of the genitals).
That reflex will result in your pelvic floor muscles contracting between five and 15 times at 0.8-second intervals, which is what we know as orgasm.
So when you consider that the essential experience of orgasm is focused on the pelvic floor muscles, it isn’t surprising that exercising and strengthening those muscles might make for more and better orgasms.
The association between strong pelvic muscles and improved sexual response and pleasure, led sex therapists to recommend pelvic floor exercises (or kegel exercises as they are known in the US) to clients, and earned them yet another name: “the love muscle”.
So how do these exercises help to increase sexual pleasure?
The pelvic floor muscles are directly responsible for the amount of sensation you feel during intercourse, and for the amount of grip felt by your partner. So although an exercise regime for these muscles has the same physiological benefits as exercising any other muscle, the spin-offs are much better.
Exercise improves muscle tone which means that the muscle is tighter, so is stretched more by an erect penis.
Strong, firm muscles have more nerve endings, and more nerve endings mean more sensations for you during sex.
Exercise improves circulation, and this is particular important for the smaller muscles of the pelvic floor, which are responsible for engorging the clitoris when you are aroused.
Rhythmic contractions of these muscles contribute to arousal and to many women’s ability to achieve orgasm. Many women report they are able to reach orgasm more easily, and that their orgasms are more powerful, after a pelvic exercise program.
So why wait to start exercising? It takes approximately 12 weeks of regular exercise to make a real difference, so start now, and within three months, a better sex life could be yours!