Your pelvic floor has a lot of functions, like keeping you dry when you cough or sneeze, supporting a growing fetus, and helping you poop. But did you know that your pelvic floor also plays a huge role in your sexual experience? YES! That’s right! The pelvic floor, including all the muscles and nerves in the area, are largely responsible for sexual pleasure (or lack thereof).
Many of us neglect foreplay because we’d rather get to the big act (or get it over with), but in doing so, we fail to warm up the pelvic floor and sexual organs, depriving ourselves of our best possible experience. It’s like going into the gym and hopping right into your heaviest lift without any warm up or preparation. When you do this in the gym, you’re at greater risk of injury and it likely won’t feel as good on your body both during and after. The same goes for your pelvic floor and your level of pleasure during a sexual experience. So, let’s talk about foreplay, why it plays an important role in the bedroom, and what you can do to optimize your pelvic floor and ultimately have better sex.
What are the pelvic floor muscles? And how do they play a role in the sexual experience?
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that go from your pubic bone to your tailbone and support everything in the pelvic region. For females, this includes the bladder, uterus, and bowels. For males, this includes the bladder, prostate, and bowels. These muscles are responsible for holding urine and stool in, letting urine and stool out, and are necessary for erection and orgasm.
Within the muscles are several nerves that provide sensation to the pelvic region. These nerves can sense changes in temperature, pressure, touch, and send signals to the brain which then interprets those signals as pain or pleasure. Ideally, in an intimate situation those signals are interpreted as pleasurable, but sometimes the brain needs a little bit of training. When touch occurs to the genital region and the brain interprets the touch as pleasurable, the pelvic floor muscles start to stretch and blood fills the area. In females, the vaginal canal starts to lengthen and the clitoris and labia become engorged. In males, the penis starts to lengthen and fill with blood, reaching a state of erection. We need this state to happen FIRST in order to reach full climax and orgasm later in the sexual experience. Without this essential first step, you’re missing out on reaching the climax.
What kind of foreplay do you need for better pelvic health?
The best kind of foreplay is the kind that brings you pleasure and relaxation. This can look different for every body, but there are a few staples and steps that can make a big difference in preparing the area for intercourse and orgasm.
1. Stretch your pelvic floor before you start.
If you’re prone to pain or discomfort with intercourse, it is especially beneficial to warm-up before you get it on. This includes stretching the hips, glutes, abdominals, and pelvic floor and focusing on diaphragmatic breathing as you do it. The best stretches to do include:
- Piriformis stretch (figure-4)
- Pigeon pose
Do each stretch for about 30 seconds to a minute and feel your muscles relax as you do them.
2. Start with gentle and wanted touch.
Unless you like it hot and heavy from the get-go, it’s important that your partner(s) start with a soft and gentle touch. Your partner(s) can gently rub or massage the area and work their way towards the pelvic region. Touch can be along the inner thighs, lower abdomen, chest, back, glutes and wherever else you prefer! People have various erogenous zones, so knowing what you like touched (and what you don’t like) should be communicated for an optimal experience.
3. Work your way towards touching the pelvic floor (and genitals).
After you’ve warmed up with stretches and have started with gentle touch, have your partner(s) make their way towards the pelvic floor and genital region. External touching as close to the area as possible and then directly on the area (clitoris, labia, penis, testicles) can help to bring additional blood flow and relaxation, which improves pleasurable sensations. Again, this should be pleasurable, not painful or uncomfortable, to improve the sexual experience.
4. Stretch, stimulate, and stretch again.
Now that things are nice and relaxed, we can start to stimulate the genitals. Whether you have female or male anatomy, we want to stretch the tissue to further improve blood flow, stimulate the area in a way that feels good, and continue like that until as long as you please. This can include stimulation with your hands, mouth, or toys. Your sexual playbook may look different than someone else’s, so knowing what you like and communicating that with your partner(s), is key to getting things all the way pre-heated and ready for the next step!
5. Take your time.
The average vagina takes about 45 minutes to fully preheat, which means the more foreplay, the better the sexual experience! Things need to be fully pre-heated in order to reach that state of climax, so take your time and enjoy the experience. The goal of intercourse is NOT to orgasm, but to experience pleasure and that comes in all different forms. If penetration is part of your sexual menu, this is the time to incorporate that, in whatever ways feel best for you.
When it comes to foreplay and intercourse, the more you know about yourself and the more you can communicate your likes and desires, the better your experience is going to be! If you’re not sure where to start or have a past experience of pain with intercourse, we highly recommend the docu-series on Netflix, The Principles of Pleasure, based on the book, Come As You Are, by Emily Nagoski. Remember, foreplay is essential to improving your pelvic health and sexual experience. Foreplay brings good blood flow to the area and orgasms release oxytocin, the happy hormone, leaving you feeling less stressed and more relaxed (something we could all benefit from).
If you experience pain with intercourse, arousal, erection, orgasm or have difficulty achieving orgasm/have weak orgasms, pelvic health physical therapy can help! Pleasure is important, and at OrthoPelvic PT, we work everyday to help patients live their most sexually fulfilled lives! Schedule your FREE 10-minute consult call today ✨
Be empowered in education,
OrthoPelvic Physical Therapy