May 31, 2023

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Pain during intercourse and other effects of stress on the pelvic floor in women

Experts agree that stress affects all areas of life, including sex (getty).

To the fast-paced life, work commitments and tight daily routines, the COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly added anxiety, fear, uncertainty and a global traumatic atmosphere. Raised stress in societyIn some cases, its maximum point.

It is well known that when stress ceases to act on a timely basis and becomes a chronic condition, it has many consequences. Physical and mental health.

According to the American Psychological Association, chronic stress, if left untreated, can lead to anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain and a weakened immune system, and can contribute to the development of certain diseases such as heart disease, depression and obesity. .

Although most people don’t know this, Stress can also affect the pelvic floor, that is, a group of muscles and other tissues form a kind of sling or hammock across the pelvis. In women, this “floor” holds the uterus, bladder, intestines and other pelvic organs in place so they can function properly.

Although most people don't know it, stress can also affect the pelvic floor (getty).
Although most people don’t know it, stress can also affect the pelvic floor (getty).

Now, various studies show that the pelvic floor muscles actively contract in response to physical or mental stress, producing effects on people’s daily lives and even their sexuality.

Rachel Gellman Physiotherapist specializing in the pelvic floor, “It is common for people to tighten the gluteal muscles when they feel tense or nervous, and although this is a normal reaction, when caused by chronic stress, it can occur in all kinds of pelvic floor disorders. In this way, according to the expert, “during intercourse A range of effects can occur, ranging from pain, pelvic organ prolapse or pelvic pain to bladder dysfunction and constipation.”

And stress may not be linked to those outcomes, according to Carolyn CorreaDirector of Physiofit Mujer, a Spanish physiotherapy clinic dedicated to women’s health, “Stress changes posture and respiratory systemThis leads to changes in the muscles of the diaphragm.

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In particular, it is usually very tense, which favors an increase in intra-abdominal pressure and a downward thrust of the abdominal viscera. In this way, the pelvic floor muscles are forced to contract to resist the increased pressure and ensure urination. All of these processes of pelvic floor compression over time lead to the formation of trigger points, which are basically pain points.

A group of muscles that hold the uterus, bladder, bowels, and other pelvic organs in place contract (tighten) like any other.
A group of muscles that hold the uterus, bladder, bowels, and other pelvic organs in place contract (tighten) like any other.

“Most of the time they’re caused by pain during sex, back problems, leg pain, or menstrual discomfort,” Kelman points out. In addition to these problems, the constant contraction of the pelvic muscles can lead to muscle fatigue, which favors the appearance of the dreaded urinary incontinence.

Consulted by InfobayGynecologists Marissa Labowski (MN 84376) “The pelvic floor is composed of muscles and Muscles contract like anything else in the bodySo, when one is stressed, everything shrinks.

“On the other hand, when you’re stressed you’re less likely to have sex, and sometimes you have sex, so when the muscles contract, the area isn’t lubricated as well, which causes discomfort and burning and a vicious cycle. When a person knows they’re going to have sex, They think it hurts, so they contract, and when they contract it obviously hurts and so on, the obstetrician elaborated.

In the same way, according to a study by the University of Örebro in Sweden, only about 20% of women under the age of 30 report recurrent sexual pain. This pain, in addition, causes a fear of sexual relations and, therefore, avoiding them. In this way, according to this work, “women with pain reported higher levels of fear avoidance and pain catastrophizing, as well as depression and anxiety.” A situation that does nothing but cause stress and pain.

Chronic stress, if left untreated, can lead to anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, and a weakened immune system (Getty).
Chronic stress, if left untreated, can lead to anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, and a weakened immune system (Getty).

His method, gynecologist Gabriela Kosoi (MN 70409), said before this medium’s consultation that “obviously stress affects all areas of life, including sex.” “It changes the microbiota, so it can cause constipation,” explained the expert. The pelvic floor has a very accurate findingSo anything that changes the nervous system changes its structure.

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Regarding the various symptoms involved, Labowski argued, “The pelvic floor is full of muscles, and if they contract, it makes intercourse difficult, going from body to body, etc., because the entire pelvic floor includes the anal, vaginal, and urethral openings. .”

“Doing relaxation exercises, yoga, breathing and pelvic floor exercises will definitely help" (hard)
“Relaxation exercises, yoga, breathing and pelvic floor exercises can definitely help” (Getty)

The first step, experts say, is to recognize that the symptoms may be caused by a situation mental stress Not for any other problem.

“The key is to accurately rule out other possible causes,” said Correra, who added, “One such case is chronic constipation. There are many women who suffer from constipation despite a proper diet, adequate water intake and regular exercise. The answer is stress levels.”

In the case of the pelvic floor, “we have to Rule out that the pain is due to a physical cause. For example, after giving birth or suffering from some type of injury or infection, Gelman said. If we don’t find another obvious cause, then if we know we are in a prolonged phase of stress, we should try to fix it first.

In that regard, the physical therapist suggested that “the obvious things like spending time outside, gentle exercises like yoga and dance, writing, spending time with friends, masturbation or, of course, going to therapy can be very helpful.”

Functional improvements in breathing patterns and pelvic stability may indirectly influence changes in the pelvic floor (Getty).
Functional improvements in breathing patterns and pelvic stability may indirectly influence changes in the pelvic floor (Getty).

Do relaxation exercises, yoga, breathing And pelvic floor exercises definitely help, as well as being able to see what’s causing the stress and address it,” added Labovsky, while Kosoy added: “There’s no such thing as breathing exercises, mindfulness, yoga. Improving stress can improve symptoms.”

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On the other hand, there are also specific exercises to reduce stress at a higher physical level. Correa recommends holding your breath for at least a minute. “One very simple thing is to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which lowers stress levels,” he said.

It should be remembered that There is a correlation between breathing and postural function with the pelvic floor. According to some studies, functional improvements in dyspnea and pelvic stability may indirectly affect changes in the pelvic floor, even in the case of symptoms such as urinary incontinence. Additionally, certain stretches favor the engagement of the diaphragm muscles. “Hip opener, psoas stretch, and quadratus lumborum-like stretch,” adds Correra.

"Breathing exercises, mindfulness, and yoga can all improve symptoms by improving stress" (hard)
“Anything like breathing exercises, mindfulness, yoga, it will definitely improve the symptom by improving stress” (Getty).

At this point, in conversation with InfobayNational Teacher of Physical Education Mariela Catania Contributed by a Exercise to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.

“Lying on your back, bend your legs, support the feet, we put our hands on our stomachs and compress the pelvic floor. We have to feel how the sphincters close, how we lift the pelvic organs and how the abdomen tenses,” he explained.

And he continued: “Now we’re going to contract the deep abdominal floor – the transversus abdominis – without losing the pelvic floor. Compression should be consistent. We inflate the belly and inhale for two beats and slowly exhale for four beats. We repeat six to ten times and rest. We contract the pelvic floor, contract the inner abdomen, and hold and relax.”

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