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ZiSMed center for interdisciplinary sexology and medicine, Minervastrasse 99, 8032 Zurich, Switzerland

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Pelvic floor tension – influence on health and sexual wellbeing

The muscles of the pelvic floor (including the “PC”- or pubococcygeus muscle) serve important holding and supporting functions in our body. In various situations, they contract automatically, e.g. during abdominal expiration (especially when forcefully, such as during coughing or laughter), during sexual arousal and with certain emotions (such as fear, stress). As one might say, they lead a life of their own beyond our conscious control. It is possible, however, to learn to control them consciously. For a long time, such learning processes have been employed to strengthen the muscles in persons who involuntarily lose urine during physical stress (such as laughter, sneezing or jogging), or preventively in post partum gymnastics.

It is perhaps less known that the pelvic floor muscles may also be constantly tense in a number of people. Little research has been done on the effects of this chronic muscular tension on the neighboring organs. Possible consequences include disorders of the bowels (constipation) and bladder (chronic interstitial cystitis). In men, it can lead to soreness of the prostate gland and genitals, to erectile difficulties or premature ejaculation; in women, to recurrent vaginal or bladder infections, to problems with orgasm, and to vaginismus; in both men and women to painful intercourse and decreased sexual pleasure. Possibly, the reduction of blood flow to the lower pelvis caused by the muscular tension may also decrease fertility.

Thus, tension reduction as well as awareness training and conscious movement of the pelvic floor muscles plays an important role in the ZiSMed treatment concept of a wide array of sexual and medical complaints.

Schematic illustration of possible interactions of pelvic floor muscle tension in women:

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