Whether you find this article before or after Valentine’s Day you already know that many people are reflecting on their romantic relationships at this time of the year. You look at what’s working, and what isn’t, and for an unfortunately large proportion of the population sex falls on the latter end of the scale. Before you chalk it up to incompatibility or blame you or your partner’s “technical skill” (for a complete lack of better words) we encourage you to read below because we’re pulling back the sheets to expose what the problems may be and how physio can help get your sex life back on track.
3 Ways Regular Physiotherapy Can Treat Sexual Dysfunction and Improve Your Sex Life (a lot!)
Addressing Pelvic Floor Dysfunction
Recent research finds that two-thirds of women experience pain or discomfort during intercourse, with pelvic floor discomfort being a primary culprit. Pelvic floor dysfunction is the inability to correctly contract and relax the muscles in the pelvic floor. For women, contracting and relaxing these muscles allows better control and comfort during sexual intercourse. Studies find that approximately one-quarter of the adult female population are affected by pelvic floor disorders, with the number increasing significantly with age. 40 percent of women aged 40 and 50 years exhibit pelvic floor dysfunction, followed by more than 50 percent for those aged 60 and above. Yeah, it’s a problem.
Under misguided advice, many women are told that surgery is the only option, with prospects of such an invasive method scaring them away, opting to live life with lackluster (and painful) sex instead. Others are prescribed opioids to address the pain, which not only comes with the risk of addiction, but also opioid-induced constipation (OIC) – a common condition and side effect of painkillers. Trading pain and discomfort for addiction and constipation? Sounds like an even worse buzzkill in the bedroom.
So what’s a woman to do? You guessed it – physical therapy. As a part of our women’s health physiotherapy services we apply manual therapy techniques to relax/release muscles and associated structures, strengthening pelvic floor muscles through exercise and biofeedback. Therapies may include myofascial release, trigger point release, visceral manipulation, connective tissue manipulation, craniosacral therapy, electrical stimulation, and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation. In addition, we may find that acupuncture and dry needling may assist in returning your pelvic floor to form.
While pelvic floor dysfunction is responsible for pain and discomfort during intercourse for many women, it also affects men of all adult age groups and can be connected to erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and other sexual performance issues. And yes, physical therapy can treat pelvic floor dysfunction in men.
Delivering Defenses Against Other Causes of Dyspareunia
Dyspareunia (persistent and reoccurring pain before, during, and/or after sexual intercourse) may be caused by more than pelvic floor dysfunction. Dyspareunia in women may result from child birth, post surgical conditions, pelvic inflammatory disease, endometriosis, and scar adhesions, while for both genders precursors may include stress, depression, anxiety, and sexual or physical abuse. While the same therapies applied to treat typical pelvic floor dysfunction can be employed for the former, physiotherapy can even ease pelvic area pain caused by emotional stress and anxiety, be it born from current or past events, or both.
Providing Optimal Physical Function for Sexual Performance
We spent a lot of time discussing pelvic health above, as we should, but there’s no doubt that your entire body is employed in the act of sex. Therefore, if there is an injury or chronic pain anywhere from head to toe both performance and enjoyment for you and your partner may be impacted.
For example, if you are living with chronic lower back pain no Marvin Gaye (or Taylor Swift, we don’t judge) soundtrack can help you get it on. The same goes for upper back pain, neck pain, hip pain, groin strain (obviously), constant muscle cramping, and more. Next to their unfortunate ability to put a halt to your sex life, the other thing these ailments fortunately have in common is that they can very effectively be treated by regular physiotherapy. We’ll provide a comprehensive assessment of your (and your partner’s) body function and prescribe the necessary treatments and therapies in addition to range-of-motion (ROM) stretches and exercises to take home with you. And sorry to some – but the old “I have a headache” excuse will lose its juice after a visit with our chiropractor who also specializes in migraine treatment and the like.
We know that many of you will be uncomfortable in approaching a physiotherapist for any sexual dysfunction that you may be experiencing. But trust us – it is far more common than you could ever imagine. As one of Greater Vancouver’s top women’s health service providers we see and treat numerous patients (women, men, and couples) for physical issues connected to sexual function and performance. Look at it this way, we are body movement specialists, and as physical therapists we are trained to discuss pelvic/sexual health as much we are for any other lifestyle limitation.
Whether it’s dyspareunia or lower back pain keeping you from enjoying intimacy with your partner we will get you back into the bedroom (or sofa, kitchen floor, etc.) for more than sleep, soon. Act now, and contact Absolute PhysioCare today.