Dear MKE SEX,
As a woman in my late 30s, I have one question that plagues me every day: How does one strengthen their PC muscles so as to not pee when they sneeze, and to enhance sexual pleasure? Seriously. I’m not at a Depends level of incontinence (knock on wood—no, really, knock on it please!), but there are definitely days when I carry a pantyliner around, just in case. Also, I feel like my orgasms used to totally rock the whole world, and now they’re like pretty good. Like, I enjoy them and everything, but I think they could be more. What sorts of tips and tricks are out there for a lady like me?
Easy Peasy Lemon Squeezy
Your situation is pretty common, which you probably know if you’ve brought it up to any of your friends. Back before we had modern conveniences like stoves, mops, decent dining room furniture, and other awesome inventions of the last few centuries, we moved in ways that kept our pelvic floor in better shape. Squatting, kneeling, getting up and down from the floor, tending gardens and cooking fires—all of these things passively exercised our pubococcygeus (or PC) muscles. Personally, I’m super appreciative of my state-of-the-art gas range and Swiffer Wet Jet, but it means we need to be more conscious about taking care of our PC muscles.
At some point, almost everyone who has a vagina has been told to “Kegel” to keep those muscles nice and strong. We’re supposed to be especially dedicated to kegeling during pregnancy (to make childbirth easier), and in the postpartum period (to keep sex enjoyable for our partners [which is a bullshit reason to take care of ourselves, by the way]). We’re given all sorts of advice about squeezing the muscles in our vaginas and pelvic floors. Squeeze and hold! Squeeze rapidly 10 times. No, 15 times. No, 20 times! Squeeze tight every time you’re at a red light. Or every time you hear a commercial on the radio. When you’re peeing, stop the flow of urine in the middle. Do it five times. But don’t hold it too long, or you could get an infection. It all becomes noise at some point.
That doesn’t mean it’s not important, though. The PC muscles that make up your pelvic floor are the foundation that supports your pelvic and lower abdominal organs. If those muscles grow too weak, the other organs can droop out of place. This can lead to all sorts of problems beyond the garden variety “I pee when I sneeze” that you’re currently dealing with. You’re smart to tone up now instead of waiting for other organ to drop, so to speak.
One of the most basic things you can do is to have more orgasms. Because orgasms are strong, rhythmic contractions of the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles, as well as the uterus, the more often you come, the more buff your muff.
Don’t have time, energy, or desire to get off more often? That’s okay. You’ve got other options. You really can put yourself on a schedule of exercising those muscles the way we’ve all been taught. Squeeze and then hold for about 10 seconds. Repeat 20 times a day or so. This is an effective way to build strength. And as you get stronger, you should increase how long you hold the squeeze, and the number of repetitions per day. It’s handy because you don’t need any equipment, and it’s totally free. It can be hard to remember to do it, but I know people who set reminders on their phone or get in the habit of doing it at particular times of day.
Using a weighted ball inside the vagina can help you gain strength and control relatively quickly. My favorite vaginal weights have a small ball inside that moves when you move. (Don’t just sit at the computer or watch TV, though! You’ll need to be walking around to get the most benefit.) The motion triggers the PC muscles to contract and relax without having to really concentrate on it. Using these weights three or four days a week for 20 to 40 minutes at a time can be really effective. You can buy them singly or in progressive sets for a longterm strengthening program. If you have more severe pelvic floor dysfunction, you should consult with your doctor who can recommend a physical therapist specializing in this area. I’ve also found a really good (though pricey) PC exerciser that works in conjunction with an app on your phone. You insert the smallish bulb-shaped object in your vagina, and use your PC muscles to squeeze it. As you squeeze and release, a little floating gem on your phone screen rises and falls, allowing you to see how hard you’re working in real time. Combined with physical or occupational therapy, this exerciser can really help turn things around.
Curious about cunnilingus? Anxious about anal? Do you have questions about queefs or problems with your prostate? Lucky Tomaszek is the education coordinator at The Tool Shed: An Erotic Boutique, Milwaukee’s only mission-driven, education-focused sex toy store. Send her a question at firstname.lastname@example.org and she’ll get back to you with an answer.