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Had your baby and looking to rev up your sex life? Strengthening your pelvic floor is the key to better sex for you—and your partner. “The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for the amount of sensation you feel during intercourse as well as the amount of friction your partner experiences,” says Emily Harrell, L.P.C., M.S.M.F.T., a sex therapist at the Berman Center, a sexual health clinic in Chicago.
During pregnancy, the pelvic floor muscles stretch to accommodate your growing uterus. During labor and delivery, those muscles are stressed and stretched even further, resulting in a weak pelvic floor. Just like a weak leg or arm muscle, the pelvic floor needs exercise to regain its shape and strength, says mother-of-three Tasha Mulligan, a Des Moines, Iowa-based physical therapist and creator of the DVD Hab It: Pelvic Floor. There’s an added benefit: “The stronger your pelvic floor muscles are, the more blood flow you have to the area,” says Mulligan. “With increased blood flow, you have heightened sensitivity. And, with stronger muscles, you have more intense contractions during orgasm.”
Kegel exercises are the best way to shape up your pelvic floor, but it’s also important to strengthen the surrounding muscles, too, including the abdominals, hips and lower back. The following workout, designed by Mulligan, can be done every other day, but wait six weeks after delivery before starting; if you’ve had a Cesarean section, wait eight weeks or until your incision has healed. Be sure to check with your doctor before beginning this or any exercise program.