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Female Sexual Dysfunction - psychological, physiological or physical?

Are the major causes psychological, physiological or physical? Are so many women really 'dysfunctional'?

New evidence that physical issues could be a major cause of ‘Female Sexual Dysfunction’ emerges with the results of a survey to establish how effective pelvic floor exercises can help women with unsatisfactory sex lives.

Several commentators have made the observation that many women, far from being ‘dysfunctional’, merely lose interest in sex amongst all the other pressures of raising a family. Others blame physiological problems that can be ‘cured’ by the long-term administration of highly profitable sidenafil-type drugs.

In truth, a major consideration appears to be the presence, or lack, of physical enjoyment that can even extend to a complete lack of real physical contact during sexual intercourse.

This hypothesis was further developed by Professor Emmanuelle Jannini in February 2008 when he claimed that “the majority of women do not have a ‘visible’ G-spot, and only those women with a ‘visible’ G-spot gain achieve a vaginal orgasm!”

However, it is nearly 60 years since Arnold Kegel highlighted a direct link between the pelvic floor muscle tone and the ability to achieve orgasm, and showed ‘sexually dysfunctional’ women how to achieve orgasm through a simple resistive exercise programme.

Unfortunately few women are aware of the role that slack vaginal muscles play in a lacklustre sex life. If they were, there would be a far greater incentive to exercise effectively!

The Orgasm Survey

The 2011 Orgasm Survey has analysed the responses of over 3500 sexually active women.

  • Nearly half of all women are not getting their share of orgasms!
  • The G-spot is not a myth, and 75% of women claim they have one. But those women who don’t think they have a G-spot rarely have orgasms
  • Women who claim to have a good pelvic floor have twice as many orgasms as those who don’t
  • Two thirds of women who rate their pelvic floor ‘poor’ have never had an orgasm
  • Women who undertake regular pelvic floor exercise against resistance reported a much improved sex life within 4 weeks
  • 42% of women using the PelvicToner™ said they became more aware of their pelvic floor immediately, rising to 85% within 2 weeks
  • 62% of women using the PelvicToner™ reported an improved sex life within 2 weeks rising to 82% after 4 weeks
  • 62% said that their partner noticed the improvement in muscle tone/tightness

Background and References

The Orgasm Survey is a light-hearted way to bring home the importance and sex benefits of pelvic floor exercises. It is ongoing at www.orgasmsurvey.co.uk and there is a downloadable press pack.

The general problems of weak pelvic floor muscles are widespread because women generally do not regularly and effectively exercise their pelvic floor muscles either through ignorance or poor training. Up to a third of all mothers are likely to experience physical problems, such as incontinence, following childbirth because of the stretching of the pelvic floor muscles. Clinical research has shown that most women are unaware of the link between childbirth and incontinence and a quarter of new mothers say that post-childbirth incontinence impacts on their sex lives.

Most women of menopausal age also experience a general loss of muscle tone as a direct result of hormonal changes. For most women incontinence is a taboo subject not to be addressed and many women will just suffer in silence and not seek professional advice.

The benefits of tightening up the vaginal walls by using pelvic floor exercises, which is at the core of the PelvicToner programme, were first noted by Arnold Kegel, of the eponymous exercises, in research published in 1952.

“Observations in [more than 3,000 women,] both parous and nulliparous..., ranging in age from 16 to 74 years, have led to the conclusion that sexual feeling within the vagina is closely related to muscle tone, and can be improved through muscle education and resistive exercise."

“78 of 123 women complaining explicitly of sexual deficits achieved orgasm following the training”.

Arnold H. Kegel "Sexual Functions of the Pubococcygeus Muscle" Western Journal of Surgery, Obstetrics & Gynecology, 60, pp. 521-524, 1952

A major clinical trial is now underway at one of the UK’s leading Urological Institutes to compare the PelvicToning programme with traditional conservative treatments.

Barry Fowler, MD of SPM, the UK manufacturers of the PelvicToner™, said: “It is very sad that women ignore their pelvic floor exercises and criminal that the consequences of doing so have never been fully explained to them.

“Apart from the embarrassment of involuntary urine leaks, the lack of correct guidance and training by health professionals, and the lack of proper exercise by the vast majority of women, is the direct cause of so much unhappiness and frustration in millions of relationships.”

“In addition to stress incontinence, the sexual satisfaction of both partners is reduced when the pelvic floor muscles slacken as a result of childbirth, menopause or a lack of effective exercise.”

“Every effective form of exercise involves working against a resistive force such as the body’s weight or a barbell. The pelvic floor muscle is no different, so why are women encouraged to squeeze against thin air? It’s futile and ineffective, and because of the lack of immediate noticeable improvements women soon lose the incentive to exercise and give up.”

“The link between the strength of the pelvic floor muscles and the ability of a woman to achieve orgasm has been known for nearly 60 years. It was in 1952 that Arnold Kegel, of the eponymous treatment for stress incontinence, demonstrated that women who thought they were sexually dysfunctional could achieve an orgasm for the first time when trained in resistive exercise.”

July 2011

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