Pelvic Pain Physical Therapy

Unraveling the Connection Between Sexual Pain and Posture

As a pelvic health physical therapist, I work with individuals who often come seeking relief from various pelvic issues, including sexual pain. Throughout my years of practice, I’ve come to deeply understand the link between posture and sexual discomfort. While common in my patients, this connection is an under-explored topic in mainstream discussions. Because I believe HOLE health is WHOLE health, this topic is important to me – so, let’s explore it together!

Image of a woman with poor posture holding her back, in pain.

Understanding Pelvic Pain

Before diving into the connection between sexual pain and posture, it’s important we understand the complexity of pelvic pain itself. Pelvic pain encompasses a broad spectrum of discomfort, ranging from dyspareunia (pain during sexual intercourse) to conditions like vulvodynia, interstitial cystitis, and pelvic floor dysfunction. Contrary to common belief, pelvic pain isn’t solely a result of physical trauma or infection. Rather, it often involves many factors, including musculoskeletal issues, psychological factors, cultural or religious influences, and even posture.

You can learn more about pelvic pain in these posts:

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Navigating Vaginal Pain: A Guide for Busy Women

If you’re a woman on the go who’s tired of letting vaginal pain hold you back, read on for insights and tips tailored to your busy lifestyle!

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Painful Sex Is A Symptom, Not A Diagnosis: Causes and Treatments

Painful sex is not a diagnosis; it’s a symptom of a deeper issue. In this blog post, we’ll explore the greater context for painful sex.

Why You Can’t Just “Relax”: Treating Vaginismus

Treating vaginismus goes beyond simply “relaxing” with a glass of wine. It requires comprehensive treatment. Let’s dive in and learn more!

The Role of Posture

Posture is more than just the way we hold ourselves or how we sit in a chair. It’s a dynamic interplay between muscles, bones, and connective tissues that influences various bodily functions. When it comes to pelvic health, posture plays a pivotal role in maintaining optimal alignment and function of the pelvic floor muscles.

Consider this: the pelvic floor muscles form a supportive hammock-like structure at the base of the pelvis. A sort of muscular underwear! These muscles not only provide stability for the pelvic organs but also play a crucial role in sexual function, including arousal, sensation, and orgasm. However, our posture can easily get thrown off due to sitting for too long, poor support (ergonomics), or musculoskeletal imbalances. This can lead to dysfunctions within the pelvic floor musculature, resulting in pelvic pain, sexual pain, and overall discomfort.

Image of a woman with poor posture holding her back, in pain.

The Pain + Posture Connection Explored

So, how exactly does posture influence sexual pain? The bottom line (no pun intended!): The body is a whole, functioning system. One part impacts the whole! (Or, the WHOLE is impacted by the HOLE/s, if you will).

To better understand how they impact each other, let’s look into some key mechanisms:

Pelvic Alignment

Optimal pelvic alignment is essential for proper function of the pelvic floor muscles. When posture is compromised, such as in individuals with excessive lumbar lordosis (swayback) or pelvic tilt, it can create tension and imbalance within the pelvic floor. This can lead to symptoms like pelvic pain and discomfort during intercourse.

Muscle Imbalances

Prolonged sitting and sedentary lifestyles are common culprits behind muscle imbalances, particularly in the pelvic region. Tightness in certain muscles, such as the hip flexors and lower back muscles, can contribute to pelvic floor dysfunction and sexual pain. On the flip side, weakness in the gluteal (🍑) muscles and deep core stabilizers can further worsen these issues, creating a vicious cycle of discomfort.

Nerve Compression

Poor posture can also result in nerve compression or irritation, particularly in the lumbar and sacral regions (think lower back). This can lead to symptoms such as sciatica, which may radiate into the pelvic area and contribute to sexual pain and dysfunction.

Clinical Experiences

In my practice, I’ve encountered numerous cases where addressing posture has led to significant improvements in sexual pain and function. I often walk my clients through a comprehensive assessment, including posture analysis, movement evaluation, and pelvic floor examination. In this, I aim to identify underlying musculoskeletal imbalances and tailor interventions to address them effectively. Remember: HOLE health is WHOLE health. That’s what drives my practice!

Image of two people doing yoga together to correct their posture.

Treatment Approaches

So, what strategies can individuals adopt to improve posture and alleviate sexual pain? Here are some evidence-based approaches:

Postural Awareness

Becoming educated about proper sitting, standing, and lifting techniques is crucial for promoting optimal posture. Taking frequent breaks from prolonged sitting and incorporating gentle stretching exercises can help alleviate muscle tension and improve pelvic alignment.

Strengthening Exercises

Targeted exercises to strengthen the core, gluteal muscles, and pelvic floor can help address muscle imbalances and enhance pelvic stability. Incorporating exercises such as bridges, squats, and pelvic floor contractions into a regular exercise routine can promote better posture and alleviate sexual pain. (If you need tips on what exercises would be most beneficial, consult a physical therapist! Especially one that focuses on pelvic health 😉).

Manual Therapy

Hands-on techniques such as myofascial release, trigger point therapy, and joint mobilizations are also helpful. In simple terms: think, massaging problem areas. This can help release tension and restore mobility in tight or restricted muscles and joints. Collaborating with other healthcare professionals, such as chiropractors or massage therapists, can further enhance treatment outcomes.

Mind-Body Techniques

Incorporating relaxation techniques such as diaphragmatic breathing, mindfulness, and yoga can help reduce stress and tension in the body, promoting overall well-being and improving pelvic health.

Image of a mother and child doing yoga together to correct their posture.

TL;DR

As a pelvic health physical therapist, I am continually reminded of the power in addressing posture to alleviate pelvic and sexual pain. There is an intricate connection between posture and sexual discomfort. Understanding this can empower individuals to take proactive steps towards improving their posture and enhancing their overall quality of life. Through a holistic approach that addresses both physical and emotional aspects of pelvic health, we can pave the way for a future where sexual well-being is accessible to all.

If you need support in addressing your pain and accessing sexual/pelvic health, reach out!

Namaste,

Dr. Darshana

If you’re in the Seattle area, I can help! I know you might be nervous, and unsure whether pelvic floor physical therapy is right for you. That’s why I offer two FREE ways to speak to me, and my expert team in our Seattle clinic. You can either speak to us over the telephone or come into our clinic. You can get answers to your questions, get personalized advice, and learn about the safe, proven, and natural ways we can treat your problem fast and naturally!

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