A lack of pelvic floor stimulation means women have difficulty reaching their full sexual potential, a new study has found.
The research suggests there are a number of reasons why women may find it difficult to reach orgasm, but some may also suffer from pelvic floor dysfunction.
Read more: Women who experience a pelvic floor issue also face higher rates of pelvic pain, which could lead to poorer sexual functioning, the study said.
It’s the latest research to suggest there is an association between pelvic floor pain and sexual dysfunction.
A new study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine looked at 1,099 women with pelvic floor issues who completed the pelvic floor questionnaire.
The study found the most common problem women had was pelvic floor tension.
The women were also more likely to experience sexual dysfunction when they had pelvic floor disorder, compared with women without pelvic floor disorders.
They also reported that sexual satisfaction was higher when they felt they had low pelvic floor tone.
Dr Rachel Stiles from the University of New South Wales told ABC News the findings could help doctors identify women who are suffering from pelvic pain.
“One of the things that women are thinking about is the pelvic pain that can cause, and the pelvic stiffness that can be associated with pelvic pain,” she said.
“This study has shown that it can also be associated to sexual dysfunction.”
Women who were diagnosed with pelvic disorder in the past year were more likely than those who had no pelvic pain to have low pelvic tone, low pelvic strength, low frequency and low frequency, low number of orgasms, and pelvic floor stiffness, the researchers said.
There were also differences between women with and without pelvic pain related to frequency of orgasms and frequency of sexual activity, the authors said.
Dr Stiles said pelvic floor therapists could be the next step in helping women with a pelvic issue.
“One of our most important goals is to treat women who have pelvic pain in a supportive, appropriate and effective way,” she told ABC Health.
“What we need to do is understand how this can be prevented and to find ways of reducing pelvic pain and pelvic dysfunction so that women feel that they can reach orgasm and can have sexual pleasure.”
Dr Stile said the study showed women with chronic pelvic pain were likely to have a lower frequency of sex and a lower sexual satisfaction, which may lead to problems such as erectile dysfunction.
Dr Paul Daley from the National Sexual Health and Wellbeing Network (NSWHN) said pelvic pain was a common problem for women with health issues.
“Women who experience chronic pelvic floor pressure can experience pelvic floor dysfunctions, including poor pelvic floor function, pelvic floor hypertonicity and pelvic pain due to pelvic floor condition,” he said.
Ms Stiles is one of the co-authors of the study.
“Our findings highlight that women who experience pelvic pain may be more likely in general to experience dysfunction,” she added.
The researchers also found pelvic pain could be associated in some women with higher rates than women without symptoms.
For instance, women who had a higher frequency of intercourse had a lower pelvic floor strength, whereas women who reported having pelvic pain had a significantly higher frequency.
“In our study, women with low pelvic pressure reported a higher prevalence of pelvic disorder, sexual dysfunction and/or sexual dysfunction related to pelvic pain than women with normal pelvic pressure,” the authors wrote.
Dr Daley said the findings were also consistent with previous research showing pelvic pain can be a risk factor for cardiovascular disease.
“For women with cardiovascular disease, it can increase the risk of stroke, heart attack and heart failure,” he told ABC Radio National.
Dr James Cook, a professor of obstetrics and gynaecology at the University Of Sydney, said women’s pelvic floor symptoms could be related to a number different factors.
“If there are pelvic pain problems, we need an assessment of the cause, the timing of the pain, the pain duration and the level of pain, so we can work out how to reduce the pain and improve the quality of life,” he explained.
“It’s also important to be aware of what is causing the pain.”
Women in Australia with low-frequency sexual activity and low-pregnancy rates were also at greater risk of pelvic issues, the paper said.
These women were more prone to pelvic disorder symptoms, including low pelvic muscle tone, poor pelvic strength and pelvic tightness, the report said.
But if women were treated for low pelvic pain or pelvic muscle tightness or pain from pelvic dystrophy, there was no significant difference in their sexual functioning compared to women with lower pelvic pressure.