Breathing and the Pelvic Floor
Not interested in breathing and your pelvic floor? What if I told you that the pelvic floor is the engine behind your Orgasm …. and breathing is his partner in crime? Maybe I have your attention now! Let's go a little further. How does breathing relate to the pelvic floor? The main respiratory muscle is […]

Not interested in breathing and your pelvic floor? What if I told you that the pelvic floor is the engine behind your Orgasm …. and breathing is his partner in crime? Maybe I have your attention now! Let's go a little further.

How does breathing relate to the pelvic floor?

The main respiratory muscle is the diaphragm. A natural synergy of movement exists between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. They move like dancers doing a waltz - always moving in the same direction, but doing opposite actions. Let me explain this to you in a little more detail:

When you breathe, your diaphragm should go down As is contracts and in synergy, the pelvic floor must also go down As is relaxes. This creates a wave-like up-down-up-down-up-down motion that occurs with each breath. The pelvic floor needs this gentle and constant contraction and relaxation to maintain good muscle length which is crucial for proper function.

Good breathing allows the diaphragm and pelvic floor to move together in a natural wave motion up and down up and down.

Watch this video from Julie Wiebe, Pelvic Function Physiotherapist, to learn more about breathing and pelvic floor.

What happens to the pelvic floor when you don't breathe properly?

Breathing can be changed in different ways - and most of them are not good! But generally what happens is that the diaphragm does not make a good downward movement with each breath. It's almost as if the breath gets stuck in the upper part of her movement. This leaves the pelvic floor without a dance partner! The pelvic floor does not move downward in the relaxation phase and is stuck in a slightly contracted position.

Now we all know what it feels like to be working furiously at the computer to set a deadline. We subconsciously pulled our shoulders up and kept them roughly there - without realizing it - until we became aware of the burning, tense pain in the upper shoulders and back !! I think you get the idea - this is exactly what we do to our pelvic floor with bad breathing!

Remember that a little contraction over a long period of time creates a lot of tension or pain.

How could bad breathing affect your pelvic floor?

Poor breathing creates tension or increased holding in your pelvic floor - this is called pelvic floor overactivity. It can cause all kinds of symptoms, like:

  • Pain with sex
  • Poor quality orgasms
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Urinary urgency and frequency
  • Getting up too much at night for a little one
  • Pelvic pain
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating

How can you get help with your breathing rate?

A good breathing pattern is essential to restore normal, healthy function to your pelvic floor. There are usually reasons why your breathing rate is not optimal. Things like: scarring, abdominal fascia tightness, motor structure, posture habits, body image, previous surgeries, and breathing problems - to name a few! Pelvic floor physiotherapists are specially trained to help you, you can find us on the MSH website.

Let yourself breathe for better orgasms!

Written by Helen henning

Member of my Western Cape Sexual Health Team

Pelvic Function Physiotherapist

Visit Helen Henning Physiotherapy on Facebook


There are many types of health including physical health, mental health, spiritual health, cultural health, social health, financial health, environmental health, etc. Plus all these variétés of health can effet each other. For instance, if you are trying to prevent pregnancy and are able to access the birth control you need ( physical health ), this may help to create a more positive mood ( emotional health ), which may also positively impact your sense of sexual confidence and sexual self-esteem ( sexual health ).

Sexual health-related issues are wide-ranging, and encompass sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual expression, relationships, and pleasure. They also include negative consequences or conditions such as : infections with human immunodeficiency malware ( HIV ), sexually transmitted infections ( STIs ) and reproductive tract infections ( RTIs ) and their adverse outcomes ( such as cancer and infertility ) ;unintended pregnancy and abortion;sexual dysfunction;sexual violence; andharmful practices ( such as female genital mutilation, FGM ).

No matter where you are coming from, WE ARE HERE to help bring Sexual Health into a more positive and empowering place. A place where hopefully you can learn the sexual health information you would like, see or speak to a professional in the field whether on the Sex Sense Line or at one of our many clinics throughout BC, and come away knowing that sexual health is a natural part of being human.

Options for Sexual Health champions and celebrates sexual health including an individual’s freedom of sexual expression, the diversity of human sexuality, and a positive sexual self-image for individuals throughout life. Think about what factors influence your sexual health ? What messages have you been given about sexual health from… ( if applicable ) ….. your family ? friends ? society ? culture ? religion ? spirituality ? What are some of your own values and beliefs ?

How we experience our sexual health is also part of how we experience the world. For example, there are many factors that health researchers have identified that can impact our health including sexual health. These are known as the ‘social determinants of health’ and include how health is affected by income, education, employment, childhood development, food, housing, health services, gender, race, disability, Indigenous status, social marginalization, and social services. If someone’s gender identity/identities are not recognized this can impact their sexual health and experiences of social marginalization. Another example is if someone is a newcomer to Canada and may not speak the language or have the health care card that will allow them to access the sexual health services they need. As you can see, our sexual health is as individual and complicated as the various dynamics of our lives. Human sexuality rarely falls into neat categories or lends itself to simple labeling, but rather is a rich and complex area of human experience. Sexual health is personal, psychological, relational, cultural, spiritual, physical, and emotional. So what does “sexual health” mean to you ?

This supplemental provenant of Public Health Reports ( PHR ) presents a variety of articles addressing the technique and practical applications of sexual health, an important health promotion concept with the potential for improving population health in a broad range of areas related to sexual behavior, including human immunodeficiency malware ( HIV ) /acquired immunodeficiency syndrome ( AIDS ), sexually transmitted diseases ( STDs ), viral hepatitis, teen and unintended pregnancy, and sexual violence. The focus of these articles is especially timely given the population burden of these conditions in the United States and other nations, and the growing recognition that, despite the sensitive nature of the topic, addressing the broad construct of sexual health can enhance the national dialogue in this area and increase the effectiveness of public health programs

The concept of sexual health has evolved since its initial articulation by the World Health Organization ( WHO ) in 1975, 5 but it has generally emphasized well-being across a range of life domains ( e. g., physical, esprit, and emotional ) rather than simply the absence of disease or other adverse outcomes. 6 The definition of sexual health currently in most widespread use is that developed by WHO in 2002 :

Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, esprit, and social well-being in relation to sexuality; it is not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction, or infirmity. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences, free of coercion, discrimination, and violence

Sexual health is a state of well-being in relation to sexuality across the life span that involves physical, emotional, mental, social, and spiritual dimensions. Sexual health is an intrinsic element of human health and is based on a positive, equitable, and respectful approach to sexuality, relationships, and reproduction, that is free of coercion, fear, discrimination, stigma, shame, and violence. It includes : the ability to understand the benefits, risks, and responsibilities of sexual behavior; the prevention and care of disease and other adverse outcomes; and the possibility of fulfilling sexual relationships. Sexual health is impacted by socioeconomic and cultural contexts—including policies, practices, and services—that support healthy outcomes for individuals, families, and their communities.

Similar to the WHO definition, this newer definition is health-focused, emphasizing well-being related to sexuality that is beyond the absence of specific health problems, in multiple dimensions of life, as well as positive and respectful approaches to sexuality and relationships. Moving beyond the WHO definition, the CHAC definition also specifically emphasizes attributes of sexual health at both the individual level ( e. g., individual understanding of benefits, risks and responsibilities, and prevention and care of health outcomes ) and the social level ( e. g., impact by socioeconomic and cultural contexts and healthy outcomes for families and communities as well as individuals ).

In the past decade, there has been increasing attention to the importance of addressing the concept of sexual health, 1–4 with the premise that remise of sexual health has great potential to complement traditional disease control and prevention exercices for a range of conditions of public health importance—not with the intent of replacing those exercices, but rather of improving their acceptance and, thus, the effet of those prevention efforts on the population. It is from this perspective that this supplemental provenant of PHR has been developed, with the purpose of bringing together a range of articles addressing new insights into research, surveillance, program practice, and broader possibilités that can influence our understanding and progress on the broad topic of sexual health. It should be noted that “sexual health” is a concept undergoing evolution, not only in its definition, but also in its practical outil. The term generally includes a focus on health and wellness rather than disease, an appreciation for the intrinsic importance of sexual health as part of overall health, and an attempt to address comprehensively a range of outcomes of public health importance; however, some of the articles in this supplement address a relatively narrower focus ( e. g., STD and pregnancy prevention9–11 ), while others include a broader spectrum. 12–17 Such variety is a necessary and important aspect of the uptake of the sexual health concept into the méthode and practice of public health.

Four articles address important research questions in key areas relevant to sexual health. First, Penman-Aguilar and colleagues conducted a detailed literature review to assess the impact of socioeconomic disadvantage on teen childbearing. 9 While the factors evaluated varied by study, the authors discovered a consistent theme across the review, with all studies that considered socioeconomic factors as determinants finding a significant union with teen birth rates, including factors at the family level ( e. g., lower levels of parent education and family income ) and the community level ( e. g., lower per capita income and higher rates of unemployment and racial segregation ). The review found that relatively few studies assessed factors at both the family and community levels, an important priority for future research.

Second, using nationally representative data from the National Longitudinal Study of Youth and the U. S Census Bureau, Biello et al. conducted an in-depth analysis of the effet of various dimensions of residential racial segregation on the risk for early initiation of intercourse—an important risk factor for STD and teen pregnancy—among black and white adolescents. 17 The finding that black youth were more likely than their white peers to have initiated sexual intercourse in adolescence was significantly modified by several measures of segregation ( e. g., concentration and unevenness ) with a particularly notable black-white disparity in highly segregated areas. While preliminary, these findings contribute to our growing understanding of the complex interplay between social determinants and individual sexual health outcomes and should stimulate further research in this area.

Third, to understand the association of relationship characteristics and attitudes about STD and pregnancy outcomes with the use of dual protection strategies ( i. e., both highly effective contraception and condoms ), Crittenden Murray and colleagues conducted formative research among young African American women attending reproductive health clinics. 10 The study found a tension from trying to balance the desire to establish and maintain intimate relationships with the use of protection strategies ( e. g., condom use could be seen as a sign of mistrust ). The authors conclude that a more holistic approach, with a focus on healthy adolescent and young adult relationships, is fondamental in interventions to prevent STD and unintended pregnancy, an issue that can be especially important in environments where trust is often violated ( e. g., due to frequent concurrent partnerships ) and childbearing at younger ages is accepted.

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