Let’s be frank about it, most people have sex at some point in their lives. Depending on the people you talk to, the books you read, the movies you watch, the blogs you see or the social media you are exposed to - you rate your “normality” on that exposure.
I see people every day who have questions about sex, who are worried about whether they are “normal” or who think that because their bodies have changed (through age, trauma, disease or childbirth) that their sex life has to worse off. Short answer to this is NO, it doesn’t!
I thought that I’d answer some of the common questions I get asked as a pelvic floor physio.
Clear, small amounts that may leave little white/clear“skid” mark on your knickers. Most women have them, you will start noticing them when you hit puberty and they are quite normal - unfortunately most teenagers don’t realise they are normal and healthy! Secretions will increase when you are aroused during foreplay – this helps with the lubrication of the vagina during penal penetration - we need this to make sex comfortable. It’s common for women as they get older to have less of these secretions occur and sometimes estrogen creams are prescribed to help with this. Other ways to help is using a gel or lube or oil to help keep things moving, please don’t use peanut oil as you will smell like a peanut for quite a few days!
Regardless of what it says in Fifty Shades of Grey, Mills and Boon books or the movies (where the women is having multiple organisms just with her lover looking at her) most women need to spend a bit of time getting their desire into first gear, let alone fifth gear! If the washing isn’t done, your stress levels are high, the house a mess, the kids are driving you mad, your work day sucked, your partner pissed you off, you didn’t get a full nights sleep, then it's unlikely you'll be getting into any state of desire anytime soon.
Men however seem to have it easy. They just need the slightest little thing to get them going and they are ready to rock! I know that this is a blanket statement, but I hear and see it all the time with patients. Women worry that they aren’t “normal”. Let me assure you, you are normal; women need to build up desire and have the right environment/stimulus to feel in the mood. If you aren’t the right mood then you won’t get vaginal secretions, you won’t get increased blood flow to the pelvic floor area and you won’t have as much pleasure during sex. Hormone levels also have a significant effect on your mood or desire. Have you noticed that at certain times of the month you are more interested in sex? This is because your estrogen levels are going up and down having an effect on your desire levels. Work with them, don’t fight them. If you want to jump your partners bones in the middle of the night all of a sudden due to peaking hormone levels – go for it!
You need to remember that your body has gone through nine months of changes and usually take just as long to recover from those changes, so be nice to yourself! If you have had vaginal delivery there will be changes in the “the look” and “the feel” of your vagina. Remember the size of your babys head means you have had your pelvic floor muscles stretched over 200%. No other muscle in the body goes through that kind of stretch and it is a trauma to your pelvic floor. However, most of the time our bodies cope and we get back to full function so don’t let this put you off from vaginal deliveries!
You might feel like you have a “gaping hole” instead of a small vagina – you don’t! It will feel a little looser to start with as your tissues recover, but with the right pelvic floor muscle exercises and self care you can get it to feel like it used to. Also remember that you should feel proud of what your body has achieved, less than 50% of the population can do what you have done – be loud and proud of your body.
Sometimes the trauma to the pelvic floor area is more dramatic and a tear or epiostomy occurs to your pelvic floor that requires stitches. With stitches you get scaring, it's your bodies normal way of healing. These scars can heal well; smooth, flexible and barely visible, other times they can heal poorly; rough, raised, non-flexible, highly visible and they can be painful to touch or stretch. I’ve seen women who have had these poorly healed scars effect their lives for months and years. They have had pain, difficult sex, difficult tampon use, reduced desire, inability to return to sport and other problems. Most of the time these scars can be treated easily, you will need to see a pelvic floor physiotherapist for assessment and treatment but it is well worth it to get your pelvic floor back to full function.
Pain during sex or after sex is not normal and should be looked into by a professional. Often there are simple solutions to the issue and these might include:
Whatever your question or concern is, please don’t put up with it. Pelvic floor physios are used to talking about all sorts of personal topics and you will find them trained, professional, empathetic and knowledgeable. So flick me a question on the blog, talk about it with your friends and family or phone up your local pelvic floor physio for an appointment and get on with enjoying your sex life.
By Melissa Davidson
Melissa Davidson is Managing Director and Principal Physiotherapist at Remarkable Physios. Her special interests are in manipulation, acupuncture, cosmetic acupuncture, women's and men's health, breathing, work-site assessments, manual handling courses and NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). Melissa is currently working towards her PhD in Bioengineering at the University of Auckland investigating pelvic floor muscle stiffness during pregnancy. In her spare time she enjoys a variety of sports including running her black labrador and mountain biking.
*Thumbnail image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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