Pilates and Sexual Health in women
A satisfying sex life is right up there, along with a good diet and exercise, for keeping healthy, but offers a whole lot more fun. What exactly is a healthy sex life? Sex life surveys and questionnaires are the bread and butter of many a website, and healthy ‘norms’ vary so much across generations and cultures that there isn’t really a ‘normal’. It is a more a question of what is normal for each individual or couple. It also appears that although the ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ factor has supposedly revolutionised the marriage bed, it has not changed the fact that many couples have sexual problems. Reports state that 40-45% of women and 20-30% of men have some form of sexual problem during middle age.
The commonest sexual problems in women include; lack of desire, lack of sexual arousal, problems reaching orgasm and pain during sex. The British Society for Sexual Medicine (BSSM) splits these problems into 3 different sub-categories based on: a) duration of the problem (lifelong problem or a new problem), b) the nature of the problem (general or only happens in certain situations), and c) the cause of the problem (hormonal or non-hormonal).
Increased likelihood of sexual problems
Certain groups of women are more likely to have sexual problems than others. Age and menopause are the most obvious factors that affect a woman’s risk of having sexual problems. The BSSM include the following as risk factors:
Physical /Hormonal – low oestrogen and androgen, low thyroxine, diabetes
Non-physical / hormonal – relationship problems, stress and depression, partner’s loss of libido partner erectile dysfunction
Menopausal changes - vaginal atrophy, lack of lubrication
Conventional treatments appear to be more conventional than helpful
It is astonishing that in today’s new age of openness and acceptance of the many different forms of sexuality, the treatments for sexual problems seem almost Victorian. Aside from a suggestion for sexual counselling, the BSSM guidelines on treatment for sexual problems in women is based entirely on pharmacological treatments. These include prescribing testosterone, a hormone known to have side effects such as hirsutism and acne.
New research shows Pilates is great for a healthy sex life
A study recently publishes in the Journal of Sexual Marital Therapy has investigated the effects of Pilates on the sexual health of a group of volunteers in Turkey. 34 healthy women aged between 20 and 50 were included in the study. The women filled in two questionnaires at the start of the study, the first assessed the women for depression (Beck Depression Inventory) and the second evaluated their sexual functioning (Female Sexual Function Index Questionnaire), to set a baseline for comparison. The women then followed a 12 week pilates exercise program and completed the questionnaires again at the end. Results showed that the depression scores were reduced and all of the different areas in the sexual functioning questionnaire were improved. Clear evidence that Pilates improves sexual functioning in women.