Pelvic Power

How to safeguard the key to women’s physical and mental well-being.
Kegels help prevent pelvic floor dysfunction.  Photo: Adobe Stock

By Annelise Peterson

As cocktails swirled at a recent event for Mytheresa, the topic du jour wasn’t the latest Bottega Veneta bag or Valentino mule. The focus was on an area more intimate than even an Agent Provocateur thong would dare engage: the preservation of a woman’s pelvic floor.

“The ‘pelvic floor’ is the term used for the group of muscles that form a sling or hammock across the floor of the pelvis, which hold the pelvic organs (the vagina, uterus, cervix, bladder, urethra, intestines and rectum) in place so they can function correctly,” states Dr. Macrene Alexiades, a celebrity dermatologist and pioneer in the field of women’s health. “Due to pregnancy and delivery and the loss of tissue structure during menopause, the pelvic floor can become weak.”

So, what to do about protecting the structure essential to a woman’s physical and mental well-being, offering her the sexual confidence and capacity to reach one of life’s greatest pleasures—the big O (orgasm)? “An area of active research in my Park Avenue clinic is HIFEM—high-intensity focused electromagnetic field devices—to stimulate the pelvic muscles. Early results show potential for this modality to strengthen pelvic floor and return it to premenopausal function,” says Alexiades, who recently received the Melanie C. Grossman, MD, Award for Leadership, Mentorship and Advocacy for Women in Medical Science from the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery for her work in the field. In addition to in-office procedures, Alexiades suggests enjoyable home treatments that don’t require an MD (unless you’re partnered with one). “I often say, ‘Use it or lose it!’ I have given presentations on the proven efficacy of probe on improving vaginal health, and this corresponds to the validity of continued intercourse preventing further deterioration. The increased stretch, stimulation and blood flow all help boost the vaginal tissues.”

According to Reform Physical Therapy founder Abby Bales, PT, DPT, CSCS, one of the most revered pelvic floor specialists in the country, “During menopause, estrogen becomes increasingly scarce in the body, and the effects on the musculoskeletal system are global. Unless women are participating in heavy weight training, muscle mass will be lost to age during and after menopause, including the muscles of the pelvic floor.” Her expert prescription to prevent pelvic floor dysfunction while improving the group of muscles responsible for that “squeeze-and-lift” sensation (otherwise known as a Kegel)? Empowering the pelvis. “My favorite exercise to start with is to stand with your back leaning against a wall and squeeze muscles around the rectum, then let go. This is that squeeze-and-lift combination that encompasses an ideal Kegel.”

Women have the uncanny ability to bring a baby into the world and acquire wisdom with each laugh line. To preserve, and perhaps improve, their pelvic floor as well as their sex drive as they age, women need to feel empowered to talk about and take ownership of the power of their pelvis. In the words of Cindy Barshop, founder of New York City’s VSPOT—the premier destination for intimate, transformative and medical vaginal healing treatments, “Although we have no trouble belting the Rolling Stones on the Long Island Expressway, no one—I repeat no one—wants to be singing ‘I can’t get no satisfaction’ in reference to their sex life.”