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Use It or Lose It

by Ann Crowther(more info)

listed in exercise and fitness, originally published in issue 123 - May 2006

Pelvic Floor Muscles

The muscles that make up the pelvic floor are an amazing gift – both males and females have them there ready and waiting to get into training and yet many of us don't even bother to undo the gift wrapping!

I have found, through my research and the clients I have trained, that not only will Pilates give you a great body, it will also lead to substantially heightened sexual pleasure through a combination of exercises and a better acquaintance with your pelvic floor. A few minutes set aside daily (either alone or with a partner of your choice) for effective and enjoyable strengthening exercises for your pelvic floor and you could unleash a tighter, euphoric you.

The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and tissue that form the base of the pelvis. They are designed to work as a complete unit and so it is impossible to separate the different muscles and contract them individually.

One of the deepest layers of the pelvic floor muscles, and the most important, is the pubococcygeus' – this muscle is responsible for the degree of sexual sensation felt by both men and women during sex.

Sexual Dysfunctions

Female sexual dysfunction – finding love-making unfulfilling, painful or inability to orgasm – is a problem faced by many women, most of whom are too embarrassed to discuss it and don't know what to do to improve their sexual satisfaction and maintain normal sexual function.

The cause of this problem can simply be weak pelvic floor musculature, quite simply… 'use it or lose it'!

The good news is, it's never too late or too soon to start exercising your pelvic floor. Pilates will help you achieve the perfect muscle balance between pelvic floor and abdominal muscles and will give you pelvic stability. Pelvic floor strengthening exercises need to be practised every day in order to keep them in perfect shape.

This is not as daunting as it sounds as, you will see, pelvic floor exercises can be practised anywhere – in the car, at your desk, on the bus – anytime, any place! The secret is to practice 50 a day, in ten sets of five… choose times when you are doing something habitually, e.g. Brushing your teeth, sitting in your car at traffic lights, putting on your make-up… when they become a habit you will do them without thinking.

Erectile dysfunction, or inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for satisfactory sexual performance, is a problem suffered worldwide by more than 152 million men, affecting one in ten men at some time in their lives. Most men find it difficult to talk about this problem and ultimately it can be extremely distressing, not just for them but also for their partners. A British study by researchers at the University of the West of England found men with erectile dysfunction who did pelvic floor exercises had the same overall improvement as men in a large trial of Viagra. (Dr Grace Dorey MSc MCPP Specialist Physiotherapist).

Research suggests that 75% of men over the age of 50 have an enlarged prostate and that virtually all men will suffer from prostate enlargement if they live long enough.

There are many reasons for erectile dysfunction – lifestyle factors, poor circulation, stress, depression, nerve damage, side-effects from drugs and hormone deficiencies. Research has shown that weak pelvic floor musculature, from lack of use, may also be a major cause. Strengthening these muscles may also help to alleviate premature ejaculation.

Start with sensible, healthy lifestyle changes such as getting fitter, staying within a healthy weight, giving up smoking and keeping alcohol levels within the recommended guidelines…add to these daily pelvic floor exercises…and the benefits will all be yours!

The Exercises

For Females:
(This exercise can be performed lying, sitting or standing) Pelvic Pull Ups

  • Knees and feet slightly apart, slowly tighten and pull up your front and back passages as if trying to prevent yourself from using the toilet;
  • Hold this muscle contraction as strongly as you can for a count of five to ten seconds;
  • Avoid tensing your buttocks or holding your breath;
  • Release the muscles slowly;
  • NB…When practising the exercise standing up, turn your feet in ever so slightly, this will prevent you tensing the buttocks.

For Males:
Begin by practising your exercises in front of a mirror – you should be able to see the base of your penis move nearer to your abdomen and your testicles will lift. Pelvic Floor Contractions

  • Knees and feet slightly apart, slowly tighten your pelvic floor as if you were trying to prevent urination and draw your testicles up into your stomach;
  • Hold this muscle contraction as strongly as you can for five to ten seconds;
  • Avoid holding your breath, pulling in your abdomen or tensing your buttocks;
  • Release the contraction slowly.

Finally, lift your pelvic floor by about 50% when walking, swimming or taking part in sports activities – you will soon become well-acquainted with this wonderful muscle structure and in no time will be reaping the rewards of a strong, healthy and toned pelvic floor.


  1. Nency said..

    Thanks for the exercise!

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About Ann Crowther

Ann Crowther trained in Pilates in California, and later in Exercise and Health Studies at the University of East London, followed by specialist training in Kinesiology, Nutrition and Stress Management, Ann draws on over 20 years of experience as a fitness trainer and has won extensive praise for the development of her own highly successful Pilates system. She is the author of Pilates for You, Duncan Baird Publishers, and several fitness DVD/book sets. She may be contacted via ;


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