Posts Tagged ‘vagina’

Sex And The Female Pelvic Floor Muscles

July 15, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD   7/15/17

The vagina and clitoris are the stars of the show, but the pelvic floor muscles are the behind-the-scenes “powerhouse” of these structures. The relationship between the pelvic muscles and the female sexual organs is similar to that between the diaphragm muscle and the lungs, the lungs as dependent upon the diaphragm for their proper functioning as the vagina and clitoris are on the pelvic muscles for their proper functioning.  The bottom line is that keeping the pelvic muscles fit and vital will not only optimize sexual function and pleasure, but will also benefit urinary, bowel and pelvic support issues as well as help prevent their onset. 15606-illustrated-silhouette-of-a-beautiful-woman-or

Image above, public domain

Size Matters

While penis size is a matter of concern to many, why is vaginal size so much less of an issue?  The reason is that penises are external and visible and vaginas internal and hidden. The average erect penis is 6 inches in length and the average vagina 4 inches in depth, implying that the average man is more than ample for the average woman. The width of the average erect penis is 1.5 inches and the width of the average vaginal opening is virtually zero inches since the vagina is a potential space with the walls touching each other at rest. However, the vagina is a highly accommodative organ that can stretch, expand and adapt to the extent that 10 pound babies can be delivered vaginally (ouch!).

More important than size is the strength and tone of the vaginal and pelvic floor muscles. Possessing well-developed and fit vaginal and pelvic floor muscles is an asset in the bedroom, not only capable of maximizing your own pleasure, but also effective in optimally gripping and “milking” a penis to climax.  Additionally, when partner erectile dysfunction issues exist, strong pelvic floor muscles can help compensate as they can resurrect (great word!) a penis that is becoming flaccid back to full rigidity.

Female Sexuality

Sex is a basic human need and a powerful means of connecting and bonding, central to the intimacy of interpersonal relationships, contributing to wellbeing and quality of life. Healthy sexual functioning is a vital part of general, physical, mental, social and emotional health.

Female sexuality is a complex and dynamic process involving the interplay of anatomical, physiological, hormonal, psychological, emotional and cultural factors that impact desire, arousal, lubrication and climax. Although desire is biologically driven based upon internal hormonal environment, many psychological and emotional factors play into it as well. Arousal requires erotic and/or physical stimulation that results in increased pelvic blood flow, which causes genital engorgement, vaginal lubrication and vaginal anatomical changes that allow the vagina to accommodate an erect penis. The ability to climax depends on the occurrence of a sequence of physiological and emotional responses, culminating in involuntary rhythmic contractions of the pelvic floor muscles.

Sexual research conducted by Masters and Johnson demonstrated that the primary reaction to sexual stimulation is vaso-congestion (increased blood flow) and the secondary reaction is increased muscle tension.  Orgasm is the release from the state of vaso-congestion and muscle tension.

Pelvic Muscle Strength Matters

Strong and fit pelvic muscles optimize sexual function since they play a pivotal role in sexuality. These muscles are highly responsive to sexual stimulation, reacting by contracting and increasing blood flow to the pelvis, thus enhancing arousal.  They also contribute to sensation during intercourse and provide the ability to clench the vagina and firmly “grip” the penis. Upon clitoral stimulation, the pelvic muscles reflexively contract.  When the pelvic muscles are voluntarily engaged, pelvic blood flow and sexual response are further intensified.

The strength and durability of pelvic contractions are directly related to orgasmic potential since the pelvic muscles are the “motor” that drives sexual climax. During orgasm, the pelvic muscles contract involuntarily in a rhythmic fashion and provide the muscle power behind the physical aspect of an orgasm. Women capable of achieving “seismic” orgasms most often have very strong, toned, supple and flexible pelvic muscles. The take home message is that the pleasurable sensation that you perceive during sex is directly related to pelvic muscle function. Supple and pliable pelvic muscles with trampoline-like tone are capable of a “pulling up and in” action that puts bounce into your sex life…and that of your partner!

Factoid:  “Pompoir” is the Tamil, Indian term applied to extreme pelvic muscle control over the vagina. With both partners remaining still, the penis is stroked by rhythmic and rippling pulsations of the pelvic muscles. “Kabbazah” is a parallel South Asian term—translated as “holder”—used to describe a woman with such pelvic floor muscle proficiency.  

Pelvic Floor Dysfunction

As sexual function is optimized when the pelvic floor muscles are working properly, so sexual function can be compromised when the pelvic floor muscles are not working up to par (pelvic floor muscle “dysfunction”).  Weakened pelvic muscles can cause sexual dysfunction and vaginal laxity (looseness), undermining sensation for the female and her partner. On the other hand, overly-tensioned pelvic muscles can also compromise sexual function because sexual intercourse can be painful, if not impossible, when the pelvic muscles are too taut.

Vaginal childbirth is one of the key culprits in causing weakened and stretched pelvic muscles, leading to loss of vaginal tone, diminished sensation with sexual stimulation and impaired ability to tighten the vagina.

Pelvic organ prolapse—a form of pelvic floor dysfunction in which one or more of the pelvic organs fall into the vaginal space and at times beyond the vaginal opening—can reduce sexual gratification on a mechanical basis from vaginal laxity and uncomfortable or painful intercourse. The body image issues that result from vaginal laxity and pelvic prolapse are profound and may be the most important factors that diminish one’s sex life. As the pelvic floor loses strength and tone, there is often an accompanying loss of sexual confidence.

Urinary incontinence—a form of pelvic floor dysfunction in which there is urinary leakage with coughing, sneezing and physical activities (stress incontinence) or leakage associated with the strong urge to urinate (urgency incontinence or overactive bladder)—can also contribute to an unsatisfying sex life because of fears of leakage during intercourse, concerns about odor and not feeling clean, embarrassment about the need for pads, and a negative body image perception. This can adversely influence sex drive, arousal and ability to orgasm.

A healthy sexual response involves being “in the moment,” free of concerns and worries. Women with pelvic floor dysfunction are often distracted during sex, preoccupied with their lack of control over their problem as well as their perception of their vagina being “abnormal” and what consequences this might have on their partner’s sexual experience.

Pelvic Floor Training

Pelvic floor muscle training is the essence of “functional fitness,” a workout program that develops pelvic muscle strength, power and stamina. The goal is to improve and/or prevent specific pelvic functional impairments that may be sexual, urinary, bowel, or involve altered support of the pelvic organs.

Many women exercise regularly but often neglect these hidden–but vitally important muscles– that can be optimized to great benefit via the right exercise regimen.  The key is to find the proper program, and for this I refer you to your source for everything Kegel: The KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health 

 

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How High Is Your V.I.Q. (Vaginal Intelligence Quotient)?

June 17, 2017

Andrew Siegel MD  6/17/2017

You may know your I.Q., but do you know your V.I.Q.?  Let’s begin with a test of your knowledge of lady parts and determine your “Vaginal Intelligence Quotient” or V.I.Q.  See how many of 8 female genital structures you can properly identify. Answers are at end of this blog entry.  Note that there is one anatomical part that virtually no one gets right.  (Thank you Michael Ferig, Wikipedia Commons).

vulva_hymen_miguelferig

 

The Female Nether Parts

The female nether parts are a mystery zone to a surprising number of women, who often have limited knowledge of the inner workings of their own genital anatomy. Many falsely believe that the “pee hole” and “vagina hole” are one and the same. The truth is that the terrain between a female’s thighs is more complicated than one would think…. three openings, two sets of lips, mounds, swellings, glands, erectile tissues and very specialized muscles. While female anatomy may be mysterious to many women, many men are downright clueless and would be well served to learn some basic anatomy. Learn lady parts…knowledge is power!

“The vagina is a place of procreative darkness, a sinister place from which blood periodically seeps as if from a wound.”

“Even when made safe, men feared the vagina, already attributed mysterious sexual power – did it not conjure up a man’s organ, absorb it, milk it, spit it out limp?”

–Tom Hickman from “God’s Doodle”

The names of several lady parts begin with the letter “V”—vulva, vagina and vestibule. What could be a better choice since the area (the vulva) is V-shaped?

pixabay-v

Thank you Pixabay for image above

The Vulva 

The vulva is the outside part of the female genitals. It consists of the mons pubis, labia majora, labia minora, vestibule, vaginal opening, urethral opening and clitoris.

The mons is the triangular mound that covers the pubic bone, consisting of hair-bearing skin and underlying fatty tissue. It extends down on each side to form the labia majora, folds of hair-bearing skin and underlying fatty tissue that surround the entrance to the vagina. Within the labia majora are two soft, hairless skin folds known as labia minora, which safeguard the entrance to the vagina. The upper part of each labia minora unites to form the clitoral hood (prepuce or foreskin) at the upper part of the clitoris and the frenulum (a small band of tissue that secures the clitoral head to the hood) at the underside of the clitoris.

Figure_28_02_02

(Anatomy of the vulva and the clitoris by OpenStax College – Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site. http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013., CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30148635, no changes made to original)

The Vestibule

The vestibule is the “entryway,” an area located between the inner lips that contains the entrances to the vagina and the urethra. Urine exits from the urethral opening on the vestibule and not from the vaginal opening. There is a small amount of vestibule tissue that separates the urethral opening from the vaginal opening.

 The Vagina

The word “vagina” intelligently derives from the Latin word for “sheath,” a cover for the blade of a knife or sword. Most women (and men) falsely think of the vagina as the external female genitals. The external lady parts are the VULVA as opposed to the VAGINA, which is internal.

 The Clitoris

The word clitoris derives from the Greek “kleitoris,” meaning “little hill.” The clitoris is uniquely an erectile organ that has as its express purpose sexual function, as opposed to the penis, which is a “multi-tasking” sexual, urinary and reproductive organ. The clitoris is the center of female sensual focus and is the most sensitive erogenous zone of the body, playing a vital role in sensation and orgasm. If an orgasm can be thought of as an “earthquake,” the clitoris can be thought of as the “epicenter.” The head of the clitoris, typically only the size of a pea, is a dense bundle of sensory nerve fibers thought to have greater nerve density than any other body part.

Like the penis, the clitoris is composed of an external visible part and an internal, deeper, invisible part. The inner part is known as the crura (legs), which are shaped like a wishbone with each side attached to the pubic arch as it descends and diverges. The visible part is located above the opening of the urethra, near the junction point of the inner lips. Similar to the penis, the clitoris has a glans (head), a shaft (body) and is covered by a hood of tissue that is the female equivalent of the prepuce (foreskin).  The glans is extremely sensitive to direct stimulation.

The shaft and crura contain erectile tissue, consisting of spongy sinuses that become engorged with blood at the time of sexual stimulation, resulting in clitoral engorgement and erection. The clitoral bulbs are additional erectile tissues that are sac-shaped and are situated between the crura. With sexual stimulation, they become full, plumping and tightening the vaginal opening. The crura and bulbs can be thought of as the roots of a tree, hidden from view and extending deeply below the surface, yet fundamental to the support and function of the clitoral shaft and clitoral glans above, which can be thought of as the trunk of a tree.

When the clitoris is stimulated, the shaft expands with accompanying swelling of the glans. With increasing stimulation, clitoral retraction occurs, in which the clitoral shaft and glans withdraw from their overhanging position, pulling inwards against the pubic bone.

The clitoris is a subtle and mysterious organ, a curiosity to many women and men alike. It is similar to the penis in that it becomes engorged when stimulated and because of its concentration of nerve fibers, is the site where most orgasms are triggered. Clitorises, like penises, come in all different sizes and shapes. In fact, a large clitoris does not appear much different from a small penis. The average length of the clitoral shaft including the glans is 0.8 inches (range of 0.2-1.4 inches). The average width of the clitoral glans is 0.2 inches (range of 0.1-0.4 inches).

The clitoris becomes engorged and erect during sexual stimulation. Two of the pelvic floor muscles—the bulbocavernosus (BC) and ischiocavernosus (IC)—engage and contract and compress the deep internal portions of the clitoris, maintaining blood pressures within the clitoral erection chambers to levels that are significantly higher than systemic blood pressures.

The bulbocavernosus reflex is a contraction of the BC and IC muscles (and other pelvic floor muscles including the anal sphincter) that occurs when the clitoris is stimulated. This reflex is important for maintaining clitoral rigidity, since with each contraction of the BC and IC muscles there is a surge of blood flow to the clitoris, perpetuating clitoral engorgement and erection.

 

vulva_hymen_miguelferig

Thank you Michael Ferig, Wikipedia Commons, for illustration above

Answers to Anatomy Quiz:

LM: labia majora (outer lips); VV: vaginal vestibule; Lm: labia minora (inner lips);  C: clitoris; U: urethra (urinary channel); V: vagina; H: hymenal ring (remnant of membrane that partially covered vaginal opening); A: anus (butthole)

Your V.I.Q.:

0 correct:  Vaginally feeble

1-2 correct: Vaginally deficient

3-4 correct: Vaginally average

5-6 correct: Vaginally superior

7 correct: Vaginally gifted

8 correct: Vaginal Genius…as sharp as a seasoned gynecologist!

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com (much of the content from today’s entry was excerpted from The Kegel Fix)

6 Ways To Keep Your Vagina Youthful

January 14, 2017

Andrew Siegel  MD    1/14/2016

shutterstock_145680893

The vagina and vulva of a young healthy adult has a different appearance (as well as functional ability) than that of a female after menopause. After menopause—with its dramatic reduction in estrogen production—the female genital tissues no longer have the availability of the hormone that keeps the genital tissues vital.  Age-related changes of the vulva and vagina occur on the basis of the ravages of time and lack of estrogen-stimulation following menopause. The vagina becomes thinner, dryer, and less elastic with diminished length and width, lubrication potential and expansive ability.  This can give rise to symptoms including vaginal dryness, irritation, burning with urination and pain and bleeding with sexual intercourse. All in all this adds up to diminished quality of life.

Menopause is a significant risk factor for the occurrence of anatomical and functional changes that result from reduced levels of the female hormone estrogen. The vestibule (plate of tissue upon which open the vagina and urethra), vagina, urethra and base of the urinary bladder have abundant estrogen receptors that are no longer stimulated, resulting in diminished tissue elasticity and integrity. The labia become less robust, the vaginal opening retracts and the vaginal walls thin and lose the “tread”(rugae) that is typical of youth. The skin of the vulva becomes paler, thinner and more fragile. Because of this array of changes, the aging vagina can have difficulty lubricating and in accommodating a penis, resulting in painful sexual intercourse, a situation that affects more than two-thirds of post-menopausal women.

Often accompanying the physical changes of menopause are diminished sexual desire, arousal and ability to achieve orgasm. Pain, burning, itching and irritation of the vulva and vagina—particularly after sexual intercourse—are common. Urinary changes include burning with urination, frequency and urgency and recurrent urinary infections. Prior to menopause, healthy bacteria reside in the vagina. After menopause, this vaginal bacterial ecosystem changes, which can predispose one to urinary tract infections.

Considering that nature’s ultimate “purpose” of sex is for reproduction, perhaps it is not surprising that when the body is no longer capable of producing offspring, changes occur that affect the anatomy and function of the sexual apparatus.

The aging vagina was at one time referred to with disparaging terms including “atrophic vaginitis,” “vulvar and vaginal atrophy,” and “senile atrophy.” There are many such hurtful and cruel labels for female issues, including “frigid” for women who have difficulty in achieving sexual climax as opposed to the clinical term “anorgasmic.” A much kinder, although technical term for the aging vagina is “genitourinary syndrome of menopause” (GSM).

6 Ways To Keep Your Vagina Youthful:

  1. Stay Sexually Active Regular sexual activity is vital for maintaining the ability to have ongoing satisfactory sexual intercourse. Vaginal penetration increases pelvic and vaginal blood flow, which optimizes lubrication and elasticity. Orgasms tone and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support vaginal function. “Use it or lose it” is the rule.  Be sure to use plenty of lubrication if vaginal dryness is an issue.
  1. Pelvic Floor Exercises   Pelvic floor muscles play a vital role with respect to sexual, urinary and bowel function as well as the support of the pelvic organs. Numerous scientific studies have documented the benefits of pelvic exercises (Kegels) to help maintain pelvic blood flow, sexual function, pelvic support and urinary/bowel control. The pelvic floor muscles play a vital role with respect to all aspects of sexual function, including arousal, lubrication, clitoral and vulvar engorgement and sexual climax.
  1. Consider Topical Estrogen Replacement   This is a means of achieving the advantages that estrogen provides to the genital issues using a cream formulation that is applied locally. There is minimal absorption and it therefore avoids the vast majority of adverse effects that can occur from oral hormone replacement therapy. A small dab of Premarin or Estrace cream placed in the vagina three or four nights per week prior to sleep can restore vaginal suppleness and increase tissue integrity. This will help improve lubrication, pain with intercourse, urinary control issues and can help prevent urinary infections.
  1. See Your Gynecologist   You bring your car in for annual preventive maintenance to a mechanic, so do the same for your lady parts.! Your gynecologist is on your team with a goal of keeping you and your vagina healthy. Gynecologists have some new tools at their disposal to combat GSM, including lasers that can be applied to the vestibule for purposes of skin resurfacing and restoration.
  1. Healthy Lifestyle   It is desirable to keep every cell and tissue in your body healthy via intelligent lifestyle choices. These include: smart eating habits; maintaining a healthy weight; engaging in exercise; obtaining adequate sleep; consuming alcohol in moderation; avoiding tobacco; and stress reduction.
  1. Avoid Excessive Time In The Saddle Bicycle riding, as well as any other activity that places prolonged pressure on the “saddle” of the body (including motorcycle, moped, and horseback riding), are potential causes of impaired genital function. Although this is rarely a problem for the casual or recreational cyclist, it can be a real issue for women who spend many hours weekly in the saddle. When cycling, intense pressure is applied to the perineum (area between vulva and anus), the area of the body that can be considered to be “the heart” of the blood and nerve supply to the vagina and pelvic floor muscles.

Bottom Line: All things eventually get old, including vaginas and vulvas. We are not in control of the aging process and sooner or later Father Time reigns supreme. However, by adhering to some commonsense advice you can maintain vaginal youth and vitality for many years.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery.  Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro Area, Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

Author of MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health http://www.MalePelvicFitness.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health  http://www.TheKegelFix.com

 

The Ins And Outs Of The Vagina

November 19, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 11/19/16

Chances are that you may be clueless about female genital anatomy and for good reason, as you had no formal instruction…no “vagina-ology” class exists. Education often involves knowledge imparted from friends and schoolmates and perhaps a talk from a parent on the “birds and the bees,” generally less than adequate means. “Sex Ed” classes in junior high school (a.k.a. middle school) were cursory and insufficient. Your dad’s Playboy, your mom’s Cosmo and other magazines may have provided some insight, but were certainly not the gospel. Pornography offers a totally skewed perspective. As a consequence, most people have been educated through practical experience with their own vagina or with those of sexual partners. Although there is no substitute for “hands on” experience, a bit of vaginal academics is certainly a good addition to practical experience.

For many men—and women for that matter—the vagina is a dark and mysterious place, a “black hole” of human anatomy, hidden in the deep recesses of the body. This landscape is complex terrain and unfortunately does not come with a topographical map explaining its intricate subterranean geography.

The following are quotes about the vagina from Tom Hickman’s book: “God’s Doodle: The Life and Times of the Penis”:

“A place of procreative darkness, a sinister place from which blood periodically seeped as if from a wound.”

“Even when made safe, men feared the vagina, already attributed mysterious sexual power – did it not conjure up a man’s organ, absorb it, milk it, spit it out limp?”

The objective of this entry is to explore and demystify the vagina to help you comprehend and navigate its complexities. Knowledge is power and whether female or male, a greater understanding and appreciation of the anatomy, function and nuances of this curious and special female body part will most certainly prove useful.

Female Genital Anatomy 101

The hidden female nether parts and their inner workings are a mystery zone to a surprising number of women. Many falsely believe that the “pee hole” and the “vagina hole” are one and the same…not surprising given that lady parts are much more unexposed, subtle and complex than the more obviously exposed man parts. However, what lies between the thighs is more complicated and intricate than one might think…. three openings, two sets of lips, swellings, glands, erectile tissue, muscles and more.

Let’s first set the record straight on the difference between the vagina and vulva, geography that is often confused. When referring to external visible “girly” anatomy, most people incorrectly speak of the “vagina”—this is actually the “vulva,” divided in half by a midline slit known in medical jargon as the pudendal cleft or cleft of Venus or in slang terms, “camel toe.” The “vagina,” on the other hand, is the internal, flexible, cylindrical, muscular passageway that extends from vulva to cervix (neck of the uterus). The vaginal opening on the vulva is known in medical terms as the vaginal introitus. Further down south is the landscape between the vulva and the anus known in medical jargon as the perineum or in slang terms, “taint.”

vulva

(Anatomy of the vulva by OpenStax College – Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site. http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013., CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30148635, no changes made to original)

Bottom Line: The vulva is external, the vagina internal. Good to remember.

Fact: The word “vulva” derives from the Latin “cunnus” (hence the derivation of the slang C-word. The word “vagina” derives from the Latin word for “sheath,” a cover for the blade of a knife or sword, an apt term.

vagina-collage-public-domain

Above image (public domain) entitled “Vagina Collage”…note that it should be entitled  “Vulva Collage”

Many Functions Of The Vagina

The vagina is an amazingly versatile and multifunctional organ that is truly a “cave of wonders.” Beyond being a sexual organ, it is an inflow pathway and receptacle for semen, an exit pathway for menstrual blood, and a birth canal. It is not simply a passive channel, but an active and dynamic, highly responsive passageway that has the capacity for voluntary muscular contraction.

Anatomy Of The Vagina

The average depth of the vagina (without sexual stimulation) is 3-4 inches or so, but with sexual stimulation and arousal, the vagina is capable of considerable expansion and distension to a much greater potential. The elasticity of the vagina is truly impressive (perhaps the most elastic and stretchable organ in the body), with the ability to stretch to accommodate a full-term infant and then return to a relatively normal caliber. The width of the vagina varies throughout its length, narrowest at the vaginal opening and increasing in diameter throughout its depth. It is typically about 1 inch in diameter at the external opening.

Joke from Maxim.com:

  1. Just how deep is the average vagina?
  2. Deep enough for a man to lose his house, his car, his dog and half of all his savings and assets…

All vaginas are unique with a great variety in shape, size and even color, similar to variations in penile anatomy. The vagina is a banana-shaped structure and when a woman lies down on her back, the more external part of the vagina (closest to the vaginal opening) is straight, and the inner, deeper part angles/curves downwards towards the sacral bones (the lower part of the vertebral column that forms the back bony part of the pelvis). This vaginal “axis” often changes with aging and childbirth.

banana-25239_960_720

Banana representing vaginal axis, with inner portion curved towards sacrum and outer portion straight (Thank you Pixabay for image)

Fact: Although the vagina recovers remarkably well after childbirth, anatomy does generally change to some extent. Pelvic examination is usually easily able to distinguish between women who have and have not had children vaginally. Of note, elective C-section (no labor) preserves vaginal anatomy. Women who have an enlarged vaginal outlet due to childbirth may have difficulty in satisfactorily “accommodating” the penis, resulting in the vagina merely “surrounding” the penis rather than firmly “squeezing” it, with the end result being diminished sensation for both partners.

The vagina has pleats and corrugations called rugae that maximize the elasticity and stretchiness of the vagina. They are accordion-like ruffles and ridges that supply texture, which increase friction for the penis during sexual intercourse. In a young woman they are prominent, but with aging they tend to disappear.

Fact: Vaginal rugae are like tread on a tire…in young women they appear like deep grooves on a new snow tire, whereas in older women they appear like thinning tire tread, completely bald at their most extreme…aging can be cruel.

The vaginal wall has an inner lining of “skin” known as epithelium, which is surrounded by connective tissues and a muscular coat. The vaginal muscle is comprised of an inner layer that is circular in orientation and an outer layer that is oriented longitudinally. Contraction of the inner muscle tightens the vagina. Contraction of the outer muscle shortens and widens the vagina. The vagina is secured within a “bed” of powerful pelvic floor muscles.

To better understand  vaginal anatomy, it is useful to divide it arbitrarily into thirds: outer, inner and middle. The outer and inner thirds are where “all the action is,” the outer third being the hub of sexuality, the inner third the hub of reproduction and the middle third essentially a connection between the inner and outer thirds.

Outer third: The outer third of the vagina is rich in nerve fibers and is the most sensitive part of the vagina. The “orgasmic platform” is the Masters and Johnson term for the anatomical “base” that responds to sexual arousal and stimulation with pelvic blood congestion. It consists of the outer third of the vagina and the engorged inner lips.

Middle third: The middle third is a conduit connecting the outer and inner thirds.

Inner third: The cervix (opening to the uterus) sits in the inner third of the vagina. Its presence within the deep vagina defines the deepest recesses of the vagina, which are referred to as the fornices (singular fornix), derived from the Latin word for “arches.” The largest fornix is the one behind the cervix (posterior fornix) with the two smaller fornices above and to the sides of the cervix (anterior and lateral fornices).

Question: What do you think is the origin of the word “fornicate”?

sobo_1906_508

Image above:  Uterus, Cervix and Inner Third Vagina from Dr. Johannes SobottaSobotta’s Atlas and Text-book of Human Anatomy 1906, note the vaginal rugae and the relationship of the cervix with the inner vagina

Fact: In the man-on top sexual intercourse position, the penis reaches the anterior fornix, while in the rear-entry position it reaches the posterior fornix.

The Pelvic Floor Muscles And The Vagina

The pelvic floor muscles play a pivotal role with respect to vaginal and sexual function, their contractions facilitating and enhancing sexual response. They contribute to arousal, sensation during intercourse and the ability to clench the vagina and firmly “grip” the penis. The strength and durability of their contractions are directly related to orgasmic potential since the pelvic muscles are the “motor” that drives sexual climax and can be thought of as the powerhouse of the vagina. During orgasm, the pelvic floor muscles “shudder.”

There is great variety in the bulk, strength, power and voluntary control of the pelvic floor muscles that support the vagina. Some women are capable of powerfully “snapping” their vaginas, whereas others cannot generate even a weak flicker.

3-superficial-and-deep-pfm

Image above: Female pelvic floor muscles, illustration by Ashley Halsey from The Kegel Fix

Fact: “Pompoir” is a sexual technique in which a woman contracts her pelvic floor and vaginal muscles rhythmically to stimulate the penis without the need for pelvic motion or thrusting. Women who diligently practice Kegel exercises can develop powerful pelvic floor muscles and become particularly adept at this technique resulting in extreme vaginal “dexterity” and the ability to refine pulling, pushing, locking, gripping, pulsing, squeezing and twisting motions, which can provide enough stimulation to bring a male to climax.  

Fact: “Penis Captivus” is a rare condition in which a male’s erect penis becomes stuck within a female’s vagina. It is thought to be on the basis of intense contractions of the pelvic floor muscles, causing the vaginal walls to clamp down and entrap the penis. It usually is a brief event and after female orgasm and/or male ejaculation, withdrawal becomes possible. However, it sometimes requires medical attention with a couple showing up in the emergency room tightly connected, like Siamese twins. Not a good call to 911!

Sexual Function And The Vagina

Under normal circumstances, the vagina is not “primed” for sex and is little more prepared for intercourse than is a flaccid penis. The un-stimulated vagina is essentially a closed “potential space” in which the vaginal roof and floor are in contact. With sexual stimulation, the vagina expands with lengthening and widening of its inner two-thirds and flattening of the rugae. The cervix and uterus pull up and back. Pelvic blood flow increases and the vaginal walls undergo a “sweating-like” reaction as a result of pelvic blood congestion, creating a slippery and glistening film. Most of the lubrication is based upon seepage from this increased blood flow, but some comes from Bartholin’s and Skene’s glands. Bartholin’s glands are paired, pea-size glands that drain just below and to each side of the vagina. During sexual arousal they secrete small drops of fluid, resulting in moistening of the opening of the vagina. Skene’s glands are paired glands that drain just above and to each side of the urethral opening. They are the female equivalent of the male prostate gland and secrete fluid with arousal.

With sexual excitement and stimulation, in addition to vaginal lubrication from increased pelvic blood flow, there is congestion and engorgement of the vulva, vagina and clitoris.

Fact: The profound vaginal changes that occur during sexual arousal and stimulation are entirely analogous to the changes that occur during male arousal: expansion of penis length and girth, retraction of the testicles towards the groin, and the release of pre-ejaculate fluid.

With increasing stimulation and arousal, physical tension within the genitals gradually builds and once sufficient intensity and duration of sexual stimulation surpass a threshold, involuntary rhythmic muscular contractions occur of the vagina, uterus, anus and pelvic floor muscles, followed by the release of accumulated erotic tension (a.k.a. orgasm) and a euphoric state. Thereafter, the genital engorgement and congestion subside, muscle relaxation occurs and a peaceful state of physical and emotional bliss and afterglow become apparent.

Fact: Anatomy can affect potential for experiencing sexual climax.

Sexual intercourse results in indirect clitoral stimulation. The clitoral shaft moves rhythmically with penile thrusting by virtue of penile traction on the inner lips, which join together to form the hood of the clitoris. However, if the vaginal opening is too wide to permit the penis to put enough traction on the inner lips, there will be limited clitoral stimulation and less satisfaction in the bedroom. Furthermore, studies have suggested that a larger clitoris that is closer to the vaginal opening is more likely to be stimulated during penetrative sexual intercourse.

At the time of sexual climax, some women are capable of “ejaculating” fluid. The nature of this fluid has been controversial, thought by some to be hyper-lubrication and others to be Bartholin’s and/or Skene’s gland secretions. There are certain women who “ejaculate” very large volumes of fluid at climax and studies have shown this to be urine released because of an involuntary bladder contraction that can accompany orgasm.

Fact: “Persistent genital arousal disorder” is a rare sexual problem characterized by unwanted, unremitting and intrusive arousal, genital engorgement and multiple orgasms without sexual interest or stimulation. It causes great distress to those suffering with it and there are no known effective treatments. It typically does not resolve after orgasm.

The G-Spot—named after German gynecologist Ernst Grafenberg—was first described in 1950 and was believed to be an erogenous zone located on the upper wall of the vagina, anatomically situated between the vagina and the urethra (urinary channel). Stimulation of this spot was thought to promote arousal and vaginal orgasm.

Fact: There is little scientific support for the existence of the G-spot as a discrete anatomical entity; however, many women feel that they possess an area on the roof of the vagina that is a particularly sensitive pleasure zone. Although its existence remains controversial, the G-spot is certainly a powerful social phenomenon.

Regular sexual activity is vital for maintaining the ability to have ongoing satisfactory sexual intercourse with the vagina staying fit and healthy if one remains sexually active, as nature intended. Vaginal penetration increases pelvic and vaginal blood flow, optimizing lubrication and elasticity, while orgasms tone and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support vaginal function. “Disuse atrophy” is a condition when the vagina adapts to not being used, with thinning and fragility of the vaginal walls and weakness of the pelvic floor muscles. Use it or lose it!

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from his recently published book: The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health. For more info: http://www.TheKegelFix.com.

He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health; Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food; and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

Even More About Pelvic Prolapse: Diagnosis & Treatment

October 29, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/29/2016

Note: This is the final entry in a 3-part series about pelvic organ prolapse.

 How is POP diagnosed and evaluated?

The diagnosis of POP can usually be made by listening to the patient’s narrative: The typical complaint is “Doc, I’ve got a bulge coming out of my vagina when I stand up or strain and at times I need to push it back in.”

After listening to the patient’s history of the problem, the next step is a pelvic examination in stirrups.  However, the problem with an exam in this position is that this is NOT the position in which POP typically manifests itself, since POP is a problem that is provoked by standing and exertion. For this reason, the exam must be performed with the patient straining forcefully enough to demonstrate the POP at its fullest extent.

A pelvic examination involves observation, a speculum exam, passage of a small catheter into the bladder and a digital exam. Each region of potential prolapse through the vagina—roof, apex, and floor—must be examined independently.

box

A useful analogy is to think of the vagina as an open box (see above), with the vaginal lips represented by the open flaps of the box.  A cystocele (bladder prolapse) occurs when there is weakness of the roof of the box, a rectocele (rectal prolapse) when there is weakness of the floor of the box, and uterine prolapse or enterocele (intestinal prolapse) when there is weakness of the deep inner wall of the box.

Inspection will determine tissue health and the presence of a vaginal bulge with straining. After menopause, typical changes include thinning of the vaginal skin, redness, irritation, etc. The ridges and folds within the vagina that are typical in younger women tend to disappear after menopause.

Useful analogy: The normal vulva is shut like a closed clam. POP often causes the vaginal lips to gape like an open clam.

Since the vagina has top and bottom walls and since the bulge-like appearance of POP of the bladder or rectum look virtually identical—like a red rubber ball—it is imperative to use a speculum to sort out which organ is prolapsing and determine its extent. A one-bladed speculum is used to pull down the bottom wall of the vagina to observe the top wall for the presence of urethral hypermobility and cystocele, and likewise, to pull up the top wall to inspect for the presence of rectocele and perineal laxity. To examine for uterine prolapse and enterocele, both top and bottom walls must be pulled up and down, respectively, using two single-blade specula. Once the speculum is placed, the patient is asked to strain vigorously and comparisons are made between the extent of POP resting and straining, since prolapse is dynamic and will change with position and activity.

 

exam-relaxed

Image above shows vaginal exam at rest (mild prolapse)

exam-minor-strain

Image above shows vaginal exam with straining (moderate prolapse)

exam-full-streain

Image above shows vaginal exam with more straining (more severe prolapse)

After the patient has emptied her bladder, a small catheter (a narrow hollow tube) is passed into the bladder to determine how much urine remains in the bladder, to submit a urine culture in the event that urinalysis suggests a urinary infection and to determine urethral angulation. With the catheter in place, the angle that the urethra makes with the horizontal is measured. The catheter is typically parallel with the horizontal at rest. The patient is asked to strain and the angulation is again measured, recording the change in urethral angulation that occurs between resting and straining. Urethral angulation with straining (hypermobility) is a sign of loss of urethral support, which often causes stress urinary incontinence (leakage with cough, strain and exercise).

Finally, a digital examination is performed to assess vaginal tone and pelvic muscle strength. A bimanual exam (combined internal and external exam in which the pelvic organs are felt between vaginal and external examining fingers) is done to check for the presence of pelvic masses. On pelvic exam it is usually fairly obvious whether or not a woman has had vaginal deliveries. With exception, the pelvic support and tone of the vagina in a woman who has not delivered vaginally can usually be described as “high and tight,” whereas support in a woman who has had multiple vaginal deliveries is generally “lower and looser.”

Depending upon circumstances, tests to further evaluate POP may be used, including an endoscopic inspection of the lining of the bladder and urethra (cystoscopy), sophisticated functional tests of bladder storage and emptying (urodynamics) and, on occasion, imaging tests (bladder fluoroscopy or pelvic MRI).

cystogram-normal

Image above is x-ray of bladder showing oval-shaped well-supported normal bladder.

cd-cystocele

                    Image above is x-ray of bladder showing tennis-racquet shaped bladder,                          which is high-grade cystocele.

How is POP treated?

First off, it is important to know that POP is a common condition and does not always need to be treated, particularly when it is minor and not causing symptoms that affect one’s quality of life.

There are three general options of managing POP: conservative; pessary and surgery (pelvic reconstruction).

Conservative treatment options for POP include pelvic floor muscle training Kegel); modification of activities that promote the POP (heavy lifting and high impact exercises); management of constipation and other circumstances that increase abdominal pressure; weight loss; smoking cessation; and consideration for hormone replacement since estrogen replacement can increase tissue integrity and suppleness.

A pessary is a mechanical device available in a variety of sizes and shapes that is inserted into the vagina where it acts as “strut” to help provide pelvic support.

512px-pessaries

Image above is an assortment of pessaries (Thank you Wikipedia, public domain)

The side effects of a pessary are vaginal infection and discharge, the inability to retain the pessary in proper position and stress urinary incontinence caused by the “unmasking” of the incontinence that occurs when the prolapsed bladder is splinted back into position by the pessary. Pessaries need to be removed periodically in order to clean them. Some are designed to permit sexual intercourse.

Studies comparing the use of pessaries with pelvic floor training in managing women with advanced POP have shown that both can significantly improve symptoms; however, pelvic floor muscle training has been shown to be more effective, specifically for bladder POP.

PFM Training (PFMT)

PFMT is useful under the circumstances of mild-moderate POP, for those who cannot or do not want to have surgery and for those whose minimal symptoms do not warrant more aggressive options. The goal of PFMT is to increase the strength, tone and endurance of the pelvic muscles that play a key role in the support of the pelvic organs. Weak pelvic muscles can be strengthened; however, if POP is due to connective tissue damage, PFMT will not remedy the injury, but will strengthen the pelvic muscles that can help compensate for the connective tissue impairment. PFMT is most effective in women with lesser degrees of POP and chances are that if your POP is moderate-severe, PFMT will be less effective. However, if not cured, the POP can still be improved, and that might be sufficient for you.

Numerous scientific studies have demonstrated the benefits of PFMT for POP, including improved pelvic muscle strength, pelvic support and a reduction in the severity and symptoms of POP. Improvements in pelvic support via PFMT are most notable with bladder POP as opposed to rectal or uterine POP. PFMT is also capable of preventing POP from developing when applied to a healthy female population without POP.

In symptomatic advanced POP, surgery is often necessary, particularly when quality of life has been significantly impacted. There are a number of considerations that go into the decision-making process regarding the specifics of the surgical procedure (pelvic reconstruction) to improve/cure the problem. These factors include which organ or organs are prolapsed; the extent and severity of the POP; the desire to have children in the future; the desire to be sexually active; age; and, if the POP involves a cystocele, the specific type of cystocele (since there are different approaches depending on the type). Surgery to repair POP can be performed vaginally or abdominally (open, laparoscopic or robotic), and can be done with or without mesh (synthetic netting or other biological materials used to reinforce the repair). The goal of surgery is restoration of normal anatomy with preservation of vaginal length, width and axis and improvement in symptoms with optimization of bladder, bowel and sexual function.

More than 300,000 surgical procedures for repair of POP are performed annually in the United States. An estimated 10-20% of women will undergo an operation for POP over the course of their lifetime.

Dr. Arnold Kegel—the gynecologist responsible for popularizing pelvic floor exercises—believed that surgical procedures for female incontinence and pelvic relaxation are facilitated by pre-operative and post-operative pelvic floor exercises. Like cardiac rehabilitation after cardiac surgery and physical rehabilitation after orthopedic procedures, PFMT after pelvic reconstruction surgery can help minimize recurrences. Pre-operative PFMT—as advocated by Kegel—can sometimes improve pelvic support to an extent such that surgery will not be necessary. At the very least, proficiency of the PFM learned pre-operatively (before surgical incisions are made and pelvic anatomy is altered) will make the process of post-operative rehabilitation that much easier.

Useful resource: Sherrie Palm is an advocate, champion and crusader for women’s pelvic health who has made great strides with respect to POP awareness, guidance and support. She is founder and director of the Association for Pelvic Organ Prolapse Support and author of “Pelvic Organ Prolapse: The Silent Epidemic.” Visit PelvicOrganProlapseSupport.org.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from his recently published book: The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health. For more info: http://www.TheKegelFix.com.

He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health; Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food; and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

 

More About Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP)

October 22, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 10/22/2016

This is the second entry in a three-part series about pelvic organ prolapse.  It is important to understand that the issue in POP is NOT with the pelvic organ per se, but with the support of that organ. POP is not the problem, but the result of the problem. The prolapsed organ is merely an “innocent passenger” in the POP process.

How Much Of A Vaginal Bulge Can POP Cause?

The extent of prolapse can vary from minimal to severe and can vary over the course of a day, depending on position and activity level.  POP is more pronounced with with standing (vs. sitting or lying down) and with physical activities (vs. sedentary).

The simplest system for grading POP severity uses a scale of 1-4:

grade 1 (slight POP); grade 2 (POP to vaginal opening with straining); grade 3 (POP beyond vaginal opening with straining); grade 4 (POP beyond vaginal opening at all times).

Which Organs Does POP Affect?

POP can involve one or more of the pelvic organs including the following: urethra (urethral hypermobility); bladder (cystocele); rectum (rectocele); uterus (uterine prolapse); intestines (enterocele); the vagina itself (vaginal vault prolapse); and the perineum (perineal laxity).

Urethra

The healthy, well-supported urethra has a “backboard” or “hammock” of support tissue that lies beneath it. With a sudden increase in abdominal pressure, the urethra is pushed downwards, but because of the backboard’s presence, the urethra gets pinched closed between the abdominal pressure above and the hammock below, allowing urinary control.

When the support structures of the urethra are weakened, a sudden increase in abdominal pressure (from a cough, sneeze, jump or other physical exertion) will push the urethra down and out of its normal position, a condition known as urethral hypermobility. With no effective “backboard” of support tissue under the urethra, stress urinary incontinence will often occur.

sui

Urethral hyper-mobility causing stress urinary incontinence (the gush of urine) when this patient was asked to cough.

Bladder

Descent of the bladder through a weakness in its supporting tissues gives rise to a cystocele, a.k.a. “dropped bladder,” “prolapsed bladder,” or “bladder hernia.”

A cystocele typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding into or even outside the vagina; the need for pushing the cystocele back in in order to urinate; obstructive urinary symptoms (a slow, weak stream that stops and starts and incomplete bladder emptying) due to the prolapsed bladder causing urethral kinking; urinary symptoms (frequent and urgent urinating); and vaginal pain and/or painful intercourse.

untitled

Cystocele

Rectum

Descent of the rectum through a weakness in its supporting tissues gives rise to a rectocele, a.k.a. “dropped rectum,” “prolapsed rectum,” or “rectal hernia.” The rectum protrudes into the floor of the vagina. A rectocele typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding into the vagina, especially noticeable during bowel movements; a kink of the normally straight rectum causing difficulty with bowel movements and the need for vaginal “splinting” (straightening the kink with one’s fingers) to empty the bowels; incomplete emptying of the rectum; fecal incontinence; and vaginal pain and/or painful intercourse.

rectocele

Rectocele with perineal laxity

Perineum

Often accompanying a rectocele is perineal muscle laxity, a condition in which the superficial pelvic floor muscles (those located in the region between the vagina and anus) become flabby. Weakness in these muscles can cause the following anatomical changes: a widened and loose vaginal opening, decreased distance between the vagina and anus, and a change in the vaginal orientation such that the vagina assumes a more upwards orientation as opposed to its normal downwards angulation towards the sacral bones.

Women with vaginal laxity who are sexually active may complain of a loose or gaping vagina, making intercourse less satisfying for themselves and their partners. This may lead to difficulty achieving orgasm, difficulty retaining tampons, difficulty accommodating and retaining the penis with vaginal intercourse, the vagina filling with water while bathing and vaginal flatulence (passing air through the vagina). The perception of having a loose vagina can often lead to low self-esteem.

Small Intestine

The peritoneum is a thin sac that contains the abdominal organs, including the small intestine. Descent of the peritoneal contents through a weakness in the supporting tissues at the innermost part of the vagina (the apex of the vagina) gives rise to an enterocele, a.k.a. “dropped small intestine,” “small intestine prolapse,” or “small intestine hernia.”

An enterocele typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding through the vagina, intestinal cramping due to small intestine trapped within the enterocele, and vaginal pressure/pain and/or painful intercourse.

enterocele

Enterocele

Uterus

Descent of the uterus and cervix because of weakness of their supporting structures results in uterine prolapse, a.k.a. “dropped uterus,” “prolapsed uterus,” or “uterine hernia.” Normally, the cervix is situated deeply in the vagina. As uterine prolapse progresses, the extent of descent into the vaginal canal will increase.

Uterine POP typically causes one or more of the following symptoms: a bulge or lump protruding from the vagina; difficulty urinating; the need to manually push back the uterus in order to urinate; urinary urgency and frequency; urinary incontinence; kidney obstruction because of the descent of the bladder and ureters (tubes that drain urine from the kidneys to the bladder) that are dragged down with the uterus, creating a kink of the ureters; vaginal pain with sitting and walking; painful intercourse; and spotting and/or bloody vaginal discharge from the externalized uterus, which becomes subject to trauma and abrasions from being out of position. The most extreme form of uterine POP is uterine “procidentia,” a situation in which the uterus is exteriorized at all times and, because of external exposure, has a tendency for ulceration and bleeding.

 

uterus

Uterine prolapse

ulcerated-procidentia

Severe uterine prolapse (procidentia) with ulcerative inflammation surrounding cervix

Vagina

The most advanced stage of POP occurs when the support structures of the vagina are weakened to such an extent that the vaginal canal itself turns inside out. Vault prolapse, a.k.a. “dropped vaginal vault,” “prolapsed vaginal vault,”or “vaginal vault hernia,” is rarely an isolated event, but often occurs coincident with other forms of POP and most often is a consequence of hysterectomy. If the vagina is likened to an internal “sock,” vaginal vault prolapse is a condition in which the sock is turned inside out. When I explain vaginal vault prolapse to patients, I demonstrate it by turning a front pocket of my pants inside out.

To be continued…

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

Dr. Andrew Siegel is a practicing physician and urological surgeon board-certified in urology as well as in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery. Much of the content of this entry was excerpted from his recently published book: The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health. For more info: http://www.TheKegelFix.com.

He has previously authored Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health; Promiscuous Eating: Understanding And Ending Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food; and Finding Your Own Fountain Of Youth: The Essential Guide For Maximizing Health, Wellness, Fitness & Longevity. Dr. Siegel serves as Assistant Clinical Professor of Surgery at the Rutgers-New Jersey Medical School and is a Castle Connolly Top Doctor New York Metro. Area and Inside Jersey Top Doctor and Inside Jersey Top Doctor for Women’s Health. His mission is to “bridge the gap” between the public and the medical community that is in such dire need of bridging.

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

The Kegel Fix is available in e-book format on the Amazon Kindle, iPad (Apple iBooks), Barnes & Noble Nook and Kobo and in paperback, all accessible via the following website: www.TheKegelFix.com. The e-book offers discretion, advantageous for books about personal issues, is less expensive, is delivered immediately, saves the trees, has adjustable fonts, as well as numerous hyperlinks—links to other sites activated by clicking—that access many helpful resources.  The book was written for educated and discerning women who care about health, well being, nutrition and exercise and enjoy feeling confident, sexy and strong.

 

Arnold Kegel’s Device—The Perineometer: Prototype Resistance Device

July 23, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 7/23/16

perineometer

Image above: Arnold Kegel’s perineometer

 

The pelvic floor muscles and vagina often become traumatized with the process of pregnancy, labor and vaginal delivery.  Pelvic floor dysfunctions may result, including pelvic organ prolapse and vaginal laxity, stress urinary incontinence and sexual issues.

In the 1940s, Dr. Arnold Kegel created a special apparatus called a perineometer to help restore pelvic function and vaginal tone in women who had recently delivered babies.  The term is derived from perineum–the anatomical region between the vagina and anus (where many of the pelvic floor muscles are located) and  meter–to measure.  The device was placed in the vagina and provided resistance to contract the pelvic floor muscles upon and feedback as to pelvic floor muscle strength.

The perineometer is a pneumatic chamber about three inches in length and less than one inch in width. It is attached by tubing to a pressure measuring tool (similar to a blood pressure gadget) that is capable of measuring pressures ranging from 0-100 millimeters (mm). The patient inserted the device into her vagina and then contracted her pelvic muscles. The device provided resistance to clench down upon, similar to contracting one’s biceps against the resistance of the weight of a dumbbell as opposed to doing arm flexes with no weights. The perineometer allowed the user to observe the magnitude of each contraction of her pelvic muscles.

Who Knew? In terms of feedback, the perineometer device is not unlike the “ring the bell” strongman game at an amusement park where one swings a mallet as hard as they can in an effort to ring a bell mounted at the top.

The feedback element was of vital importance to the pelvic floor muscle training process, serving as a visual aid and confirming to the patient that the proper muscles were being contracted. It also served the purpose of showing day-to-day improvement, helping to encourage the participant to complete the program. Kegel recommended recording the maximal contraction at each exercise session, the written documentation providing further encouragement.

 Who Knew? Tracking one’s performance is fundamental to the success of pelvic training. By being able to observe forward progress over time, the process is enabled.

Kegel observed that when the vaginal muscles were well developed and had a contractile strength of 20 mm or more, sexual complaints were infrequent. However, when the vaginal muscles were inelastic, thin, poorly toned and had a weak contractile strength, sexual dissatisfaction was commonplace. Kegel observed that younger patients progressed more rapidly through pelvic training than older ones.

Who Knew? Patients vary greatly in their ability to contract their vaginal muscles. Some women are incapable of clenching down on an examining finger in the vagina, whereas others can squeeze so hard that the finger hurts!

Kegel recognized that pelvic muscle reconditioning proceeded in a sequence of stages. The initial phase was awareness and coordination. The next phase was transitional, the adaptive phase when the body learns how to properly execute the exercises; this was followed by regeneration, when the pelvic muscles respond to the exercises and increase their mass, strength, power and coordination. The final stage was restoration, in which there was a leveling out of the maximal pelvic muscle contractions.

Who Knew? Kegel observed that following restoration of pelvic floor muscle function in women with incontinence or pelvic laxity, many patients had increased sexual feelings—including more readily achieved and better quality orgasms.

Kegel’s PFMT regimen was rigorous, requiring a significant investment of time: 20 minutes three times daily for a total of 20-40 hours of progressive resistance exercise over a 20-60 day period. He emphasized the importance of not only pursuing pelvic training after pregnancy, but also prophylactically during pregnancy.

Bottom Line: In the 1940s, Dr. Arnold Kegel developed the prototype pelvic training device used to provide feedback to the user as well as create resistance to contract down upon. After many years of quiescence following Dr. Kegel’s seminal work, we have recently witnessed the availability of numerous resistance devices available in a rapidly changing, competitive and evolving market, all of which are based on Kegel’s perineometer. Most of the sophisticated training devices provide similar basic functionality—insertion into the vagina, connection to a smartphone app, and biofeedback and tracking—although each device has its own special features. An upcoming blog will review the current devices that are available. 

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health– and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo; paperback edition available at TheKegelFix.com

Author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Siegel/e/B004W7IM48

Apple iBook: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-kegel-fix/id1105198755?mt=11

Trailer for The Kegel Fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc  

Co-creator of Private Gym and PelvicRx: comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training programs. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Kegel, these programs empower men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  In the works is the female PelvicRx pelvic floor muscle training DVD. 

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store home to quality urology products for men and women. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount. 

 

 

Vaginal Tone: How Tight Is Right?

June 11, 2016

Andrew Siegel, M.D.   6/10/16

IMG_1544

The strength and firmness of the vagina is largely determined by the strength and tone of the pelvic floor muscles .  As a urologist who treats many female pelvic problems, questions about vaginal tightness and tone are not infrequently raised by concerned patients.  It is important to distinguish strength from tone.  A condition exists in which the pelvic floor muscles are tight and over-toned (“hypertonic”), yet weak, inflexible and with an impaired ability to relax after a contraction.  This is a pathological condition of the pelvic floor muscles which can give rise to pelvic pain, sexual dysfunction and numerous other symptoms.

The Effect of Vaginal Delivery

The most compelling factor affecting vaginal form is vaginal childbirth.  A recent article from the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (Kamisian et al, 2015; 122:867-872) studied the relationship between childbirth and vaginal dimensions in women presenting with urinary control issues and pelvic organ prolapse. The average measurement of the vaginal opening (obtained upon abdominal straining) was 29 cm² in women who had vaginal deliveries versus 21.5 cm² in women who had not delivered vaginally. Having more than one child did not further increase the size of the vaginal opening in a significant way. Bottom Line: The researchers concluded that there are clearly anatomical differences present in women who have delivered vaginally versus those who have not and that most of the stretching effect of vaginal childbirth is related to the first delivery.

 The Vagina: A Mysterious But Amazing Place

Trivia: The word “vagina” derives from the Latin word for “sheath,” a cover for the blade of a knife or sword. The word “penis” derives from the Latin word for “tail.”

Although for many people–both women and men–the vagina is a dark and mysterious place, it is impressive how versatile and multifunctional an organ it is. The vagina wears many “hats,” functioning as an entryway for the penis during sexual intercourse, an inflow pathway and receptacle for semen, an outflow pathway for menstruation and a birth canal. The elasticity of the vagina is extraordinary, with an astonishing ability to stretch to accommodate a baby’s head and then return to a relatively normal caliber. That stated, pregnancy, labor and delivery–particularly vaginal deliveries of large babies–has the potential to profoundly affect the anatomy and function of the vagina and its supportive pelvic muscles.  Although not inevitable, this can result in vaginal laxity (looseness) and other pelvic floor dysfunctions including pelvic organ prolapse (dropped bladder and other pelvic organs), stress urinary incontinence (urinary leakage with coughing, sneezing and physical exertion) and sexual issues.

Trivia: Elective C-section (no labor) is generally protective against vaginal laxity, whereas emergency C-section (after prolonged labor) is equally as potentially damaging to the vaginal support system as is vaginal delivery.

Is Your Vagina Toned/Tight Enough?

If you have ever wondered if your vagina is toned enough and how it might compare with others, you are by no means alone. Like penis size for men, this can be a source of concern and anxiety for many women. A “fit” vagina and pelvic floor is a desirable physical attribute, correlating with youthful vitality, better sexual function for women and their partners and less risk for pelvic organ prolapse and stress urinary incontinence.

Trivia: Leonardo Da Vinci observed that while women generally desire the size of a man’s genitals to be as large as possible, men typically desire the opposite for a woman’s genitals.

Vaginal tone is strongly impacted by the strength and tone of the pelvic floor (Kegel) muscles, but is also influenced by the strength and tone of the muscle layers of the vagina itself. Vaginas come in all sizes and shapes and run the gamut from being very snug to very loose. The vast majority of vaginas are between these too extremes,  “toned sufficiently.” On one extreme, the vagina and pelvic muscles can be so snug that the vagina cannot be penetrated, a medical condition known as vaginismus, which can be a devastating physical and emotional problem. It is an extreme form of pelvic floor tension myalgia, a pelvic pain syndrome referred to earlier resulting from pelvic floor muscles that are chronically over-tensioned. Extremely narrow and tight vaginas are also common in the elderly population that is not sexually active, on the basis of disuse atrophy and the lack of hormone stimulation that accompanies menopause.

On the other hand, the vagina, pelvic floor muscles and other connective tissue support can be so lax that the vagina gapes open, allowing one or more of the pelvic organs to fall into the space of the vagina and at times, outside of the vagina. This can also give rise to other pelvic issues having to do with sexual function and urinary/bowel control. Laxity can lead to difficulties with retaining the penis with vaginal intercourse, retaining tampons and in achieving orgasm.  Vaginal laxity can also result in the vagina filling up with water while bathing and vaginal passage of air (vaginal flatulence). The perception of having a loose vagina can lead to self-esteem issues.

 The Role of Vaginal Tone In Sexual Function

To reiterate, vaginal fitness is an important factor in terms of sexual function and is largely determined by pelvic floor muscle strength and tone. Vaginal laxity is caused by weakened pelvic muscles, vaginal muscles and connective tissue that no longer provide optimal vaginal support. Women with a lax vagina who are sexually active may complain of less satisfying sexual intercourse with diminished sensation for themselves and their partners with an impairment in “accommodating” the penis, with the vagina “surrounding” the penis rather than firmly “squeezing” it.

Under normal circumstances, sexual intercourse results in indirect clitoral stimulation. The clitoral shaft moves rhythmically with penile thrusting by virtue of penile traction on the inner vaginal lips, which join together to form the hood of the clitoris. However, if the vaginal opening is too wide to permit the penis to put sufficient traction on the inner vaginal lips, there can be decreased clitoral stimulation and less satisfaction in the bedroom.

Trivia: George Carlin did a routine about women who have a special gift with the strength, tone and finesse of their vaginas and pelvic floor muscles that I will attempt to paraphrase. He referred to the vaginas of these women as “snapping,” which he defined as “quick muscular control and vaginal elasticity that can grab ahold of you.”  What he was actually describing was women with excellent command of their pelvic floor muscles. 

 So How Tight Is Right?

Dr. Arnold Kegel in the 1940s invented a device called a perineometer that was inserted into the vagina to record the pelvic floor muscle contractile strength.  There are numerous sophisticated measurement devices that exist today.

A simple means is the digital method (a finger in the vagina) to assess your pelvic muscle strength. Do so supine (lying down, face up) with knees bent and slightly parted. Use a hand-held mirror to get a visual of your vulva. The inner vaginal lips should be closed and touching, appearing like a shut clamshell. A sign of vaginal laxity is when the lips are parted like an open clamshell. Another sign of laxity is a reduction in the distance from the bottom part of the vaginal opening to the anus (the perineum). A more severe sign of vaginal laxity is gaping lips with a pink bulge (pelvic organ prolapse) emerging between the lips. Take a look while pushing and straining your abdominal muscles—as if you are pushing out a baby—as a “vaginal stress test.”

Gently place a lubricated finger of one hand in the vagina and contract your pelvic muscles, squeezing around the finger and trying to lift it upwards and inwards, ensuring that you are not contracting your gluteal (butt), rectus (abdomen) or adductor (inner thigh) muscles. Do this by placing your other hand on each of these other muscle groups, in turn, to prove to yourself that these muscles remain relaxed.

Grade your strength using the modified Oxford grading scale, giving yourself a number between 0-5. Note that the Oxford system is what physicians use and it is relatively simple when done regularly by those with experience performing pelvic exams. It is granted that since this assessment is subjective and is not your specialty, you may find it challenging, but do your best, as your goal is to get a general sense of your pelvic strength.

Oxford Grading of Pelvic Strength

0—complete lack of contraction

1—minor flicker

2—weak squeeze (without a circular contraction or inner and upward movement)

3—moderate squeeze (with some inner and upward movement)

4—good squeeze (with moderate inner and upward movement)

5—strong squeeze (with significant inner and upward movement)

What To Do About Vaginal Laxity

If you are unhappy with your vaginal tone, do not despair. Pelvic floor exercises (a.k.a. Kegels) can and will often help improve the situation. Achieving a well-conditioned pelvic floor will optimize vaginal tone, pelvic organ support and sexual, urinary and bowel function as well as positively impact core strength and stability, posture and spinal alignment.

Bottom Line:  A firm and fit vagina is desirable from the standpoint of pelvic, sexual and general health.  Having well-conditioned pelvic floor muscles can help prevent and treat vaginal laxity, pelvic organ prolapse, urinary and bowel control issues as well as contribute to a healthy and enjoyable sex life. Just as you make an effort to keep your external muscles in good shape, It makes sense to apply a similar effort to these important internal muscles.

Please check out the following 3 minute video entitled “Why Kegel?”:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kclY1vY3wG8

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health– and MALE PELVIC FITNESS: Optimizing Sexual & Urinary Health available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo; paperback edition available at TheKegelFix.com

Author page on Amazon: 

http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Siegel/e/B004W7IM48

Apple iBook:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-kegel-fix/id1105198755?mt=11

The Kegel Fix trailer: 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc  

Co-creator of Private Gym and PelvicRx: comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training programs. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Kegel, these programs empower men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  In the works is the female PelvicRx pelvic floor muscle training DVD. 

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store home to quality urology products for men and women. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount. 

 

The Clitoris: What’s Under The Hood?

May 7, 2016

Andrew Siegel MD 5/7/16

The clitoris is a complex and mysterious organ possessed by all female mammals. Many men (as well as a fair share of women) are clueless (“uncliterate”) about this curious, unique and fascinating structure. The intent of this entry is to provide a primer of useful knowledge so that you can understand what is under the (clitoral) hood, literally and figuratively.  Advances in imaging—especially magnetic resonance (MR)—have provided a much clearer understanding of clitoral anatomy. Whether you are a female or a male, a greater knowledge and appreciation of the anatomy, function and nuances of this special female body part will most certainly prove useful and beneficial. 

Female External Genital Anatomy

The clitoris is part of the vulva, the outer part of the female genitals. The vulva consists of the mons, outer lips, inner lips, vestibule, vaginal opening, urethral opening and the star of the show–the clitoris.

5. vulva 

(Female external genital anatomy, from The Kegel Fix, credit to illustrator Ashley Halsey)

Clitoral Geography: Mountains, Hills and Earthquakes

The vulva is home to some hilly and bumpy terrain that is well worth gaining familiarity with so it can be traversed with finesse. The word mons derives from Latin meaning “mountain” because it is the rounded and prominent fatty tissue overlying the pubic bone. The word clitoris derives from the Greek “kleitoris” meaning “little hill.”

An earthquake is the shaking of the Earth’s surface caused by the sudden release of energy resulting from movements within the earth’s crust that creates seismic waves. If a female orgasm is thought of as an “earthquake,” the clitoris is the “epicenter.” The head of the clitoris—typically only the size of a pea—is an extraordinarily dense bundle of sensory nerve fibers.

 Pleasure (and Reproduction)

The clitoris is central to the female sexual response and sexual climax, the only human organ that exists solely for pleasure, although nature has secondary motives. The clitoris is a vital part of the anatomical design used for nature’s clever “bait and switch” trick, in which the pursuit of a pleasurable activity drives reproduction of the human species and the perpetuation of life. In the mammalian kingdom, if reproduction was not associated with sexual pleasure, how much sexual activity do you think would actually occur?

Male and Female Comparative Genital Anatomy

It might surprise you how remarkably similar the female and male external genitals are. In fact, in the first few weeks of embryonic existence, the external genitals are identical. The female embryo’s external genitals are the “default” model that will remain female in the absence of masculinizing hormones. The female clitoris and the male penis are essentially the same structure, as are the female outer lips and the male scrotum. In fact, there is not much difference in appearance between a very large clitoris and a very small penis.

Although the clitoris is the female equivalent of the penis, it is exclusively a sexual organ, whereas the penis is a urinary, sexual and reproductive organ. Like the penis, the clitoris is largely composed of erectile tissue that upon arousal and stimulation engorges with blood and with increasing stimulation becomes erect. After sexual climax, the clitoris returns to its normal relaxed state.

Interesting trivia: The female spotted hyena, squirrel monkey, lemur, and bearcat all have in common a very large clitoris. When erect, it appears very similar to the male’s penis and is used to demonstrate dominance over other members of their clans. It is referred to as a “pseudo-penis.”

The Tip of the Iceberg, But Far From Frigid

 Most of the clitoris is hidden and internal. Commonly misrepresented as a “bean” or “button,” the external nub is the clitoral head, merely the “tip of the iceberg.” The iceberg metaphor is an apt one in terms of anatomy, but is off target with respect to what a clitoris is—the seat of female genital passion—with its head having a greater concentration of nerve endings than any other body part, a far cry from “ice.”

Clitoral Anatomy

The glans (head) is the external and visible part of the clitoris. It is located just above the opening of the urethra. The remainder of the clitoris is internal and consists of the clitoral shaft (body) and its extensions, known as crura (legs). The prepuce (foreskin), a hood of skin formed by the inner vaginal lips, covers the clitoral shaft.

clitoris

(Anatomy of the vulva and the clitoris by OpenStax College – Anatomy & Physiology, Connexions Web site. http://cnx.org/content/col11496/1.6/, Jun 19, 2013., CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=30148635, no changes made to original)

The crura are wishbone-shaped and are attached to the pubic arch as it diverges on each side. The shaft and crura contain erectile tissue, consisting of spongy sinuses that become engorged with blood at the time of sexual stimulation, resulting in clitoral engorgement and erection. Beneath the crura on either side of the vaginal opening are the clitoral bulbs, sac-shaped erectile tissues that lie beneath the outer vaginal lips. With sexual stimulation, they become full, plumping and tightening the vaginal opening.

One can think of the crura and bulbs as similar to the roots of a tree, hidden from view and extending deeply below the surface, yet fundamental to the support and function of the clitoral shaft and head above, comparable to the tree’s trunk and branches.

Pelvic Floor Muscles

These important muscles are critical to sexual function in general and clitoral function in particular. They control the voluntary tightening and relaxing of the vagina, increase genital blood flow, support clitoral erection and contract rhythmically at the time of orgasm. Two of the pelvic floor muscles are especially vital to clitoral function: the ischiocavernosus and bulbocavernosus muscles that surround the crura and the bulbs, respectively. They stabilize the deep roots of the clitoris and compress the roots when engaged, increasing genital blood flow and maintaining clitoral erection, since their compressions push blood from the roots back towards the shaft and glans.

3. superficial and deep PFM

(Female pelvic floor muscles, from The Kegel Fix, credit to illustrator Ashley Halsey)

The pelvic floor muscles strongly contribute to the transformation of the clitoris from flaccid to softly swollen to rigid. By compressing the roots of the clitoris, they elevate blood pressure within the clitoris to maintain clitoral swelling and erectile rigidity. At the time of climax, these muscles contract rhythmically, and an orgasm would not be an orgasm without the contribution of these muscles working together with the clitoris.

Interesting trivia: The blood pressure within the clitoris at the time of a clitoral erection is hypertensive (high blood pressure) range, accounting for the rigidity. This is largely on the basis of the contractions of the aforementioned pelvic floor muscles. The only regions of the body where hypertension is desirable are the penis and clitoris.

Sexual Function And The Clitoris

With arousal and sexual stimulation, the clitoral erectile tissue engorges, resulting in clitoral shaft thickening and swelling of the glans. With increasing clitoral stimulation, clitoral retraction occurs, in which the clitoral shaft and glans withdraw from their overhanging position, pulling inwards against the pubic bone.

When a sufficient threshold of sexual stimulation is reached, climax occurs with contraction of the pelvic floor muscles, vagina, urethra, uterus and anus.

The clitoris plays a central role in orgasm for the majority of women and for most, clitoral stimulation is necessary to achieve orgasm. Some women require direct clitoral stimulation, while for others indirect stimulation is sufficient; about 25% are capable of achieving orgasm via vaginal intercourse alone. Vaginal intercourse often results in indirect clitoral stimulation since the crura and bulbs flank the vaginal opening and these inner parts of the clitoris are stimulated with penetrative thrusting.

Interesting trivia: Magnetic resonance studies have shown that a larger clitoral head size and shorter distance from the clitoris to the vagina are correlated with an easier ability to achieve a vaginal orgasm.

There is a clitoral literacy movement that is gaining momentum. Please visit:

http://projects.huffingtonpost.com/cliteracy for more information on the clitoris and this campaign to foster awareness of this curious organ.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of THE KEGEL FIX: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health– newly available on Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, B&N Nook and Kobo (paperback edition will be available soon).

Author page on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Andrew-Siegel/e/B004W7IM48

Apple iBook: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-kegel-fix/id1105198755?mt=11

Trailer for The Kegel Fix: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uHZxoiQb1Cc

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health and Promiscuous Eating: Understanding Our Self-Destructive Relationship With Food   

Co-creator of Private Gym and PelvicRx: comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training programs. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Kegel, these programs empower men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  In the works is the female PelvicRx pelvic floor muscle training DVD. 

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store home to quality urology products for men and women. Use promo code “UROLOGY10” at checkout for 10% discount. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ejaculation: His and Hers

March 12, 2016

Andrew Siegel, MD   3/12/2016

One of the advantages of the specialty of urology is that it encompasses patients of both genders, unlike gynecology, which strictly involves females. Since I am board certified in Urology as well as in Female Pelvic Medicine, my practice allows me to have an equal balance of male and female patients. This gives me the opportunity to appreciate comparative male and female pelvic anatomy and function, which in reality are remarkably similar–a fact that may surprise you.

 A Few Brief Words on the Embryology of the Genitals.

Who Knew? Female and male external genitals are remarkably similar. In fact, in the first few weeks of existence as an embryo, the external genitals are identical.

The female external genitals are the “default” model, which will remain female in the absence of the male hormone testosterone. In this circumstance, the genital tubercle (a midline swelling) becomes the clitoris; the urogenital folds (two vertically-oriented folds of tissue below the genital tubercle) become the labia minora (inner lips); and the labio-scrotal swellings (two vertically-oriented bulges outside the urogenital folds) fuse to become the labia majora (outer lips).

Gray1119

(Comparison of genital anatomy,  1918 Gray’s Anatomy, Dr. Henry Gray, public domain)

In the presence of testosterone, the genital tubercle morphs into the penis; the urogenital folds fuse and become the urethra and part of the shaft of the penis; and the labio-scrotal swellings fuse to become the scrotal sac.  So, the clitoris and the penis are essentially the same structure, as are the outer labia and the scrotum.                                                                                              

Ejaculation

Ejaculation is the expulsion of fluids at the time of sexual climax. The word “ejaculation” derives from ex, meaning out and jaculari, meaning to throw, shoot, hurl, cast. We are all familiar with male ejaculation, an event that is obvious and well understood and well studied. However, female ejaculation is a mysterious phenomenon and a curiosity to many and remains poorly understood and studied.

Male Ejaculation

Men often “dribble” before they “shoot.” The bulbo-urethral glands, a.k.a. Cowper’s glands, are paired, pea-sized structures whose ducts drain into the urethra (urinary channel). During sexual arousal, these glands produce a sticky, clear fluid that provides lubrication to the urethra. (These glands are the male versions of Bartholin’s glands in the female, discussed below).

Once a threshold of sexual stimulation is surpassed, men reach the “point of no return,” in which ejaculation becomes inevitable. Secretions from the prostate gland, seminal vesicles, epididymis, and vas deferens are deposited into the urethra within the prostate gland. Shortly thereafter, the bladder neck pinches closed while the prostate and seminal vesicles contract and the pelvic floor muscles (the bulbocavernosus and ischiocavernosus) spasm rhythmically, sending wave-like contractions rippling down the urethra to forcibly propel the semen out in a pulsatile and explosive eruption. Ejaculation is the physical act of expulsion of the semen, whereas orgasm is the intense emotional excitement and climax, the blissful emotions that accompany ejaculation.

Male_anatomy

(Male Internal Sexual Anatomy, permission CC BY-SA 3.0, created 18 April 2009)

What’s in the Ejaculate?

Less than 5% of the volume is sperm and the other 95+% is a cocktail of genital secretions that provides nourishment, support and chemical safekeeping for sperm. About 70% of the volume comes from the seminal vesicles, which secrete a thick, viscous fluid and 25% from the prostate gland, which produces a milky-white fluid. A negligible amount is from the bulbo-urethral glands, which release a clear viscous fluid that has a lubrication function. The average ejaculate volume is 2-5 milliliters (one teaspoon is the equivalent of 5 milliliters).

Who Knew?  While a huge ejaculatory load sounds desirable, in reality it is correlated with having fertility issues. The sperm can literally “drown” in the excess seminal fluid.

Female Ejaculation

This is a much less familiar subject than male ejaculation and a curiosity to many. Only a small percentage of women are capable of expelling fluid at the time of sexual climax.

The nature of this fluid is controversial, thought by some to be excessive vaginal lubrication and others to be glandular secretions. Although the volume of ejaculated fluid is typically small, there are certain women who ejaculate very large volumes of fluid at climax. Expulsion of fluid at climax may come from four possible sources: vaginal secretions; Bartholin’s glands; Skene’s glands; and the urinary bladder.

Skenes_gland

(Skene’s and Bartholin’s Glands, created 22 January 2007, original uploader Nicholasolan  en.wikipedia, Permission: CC-BY-SA-2.5, 2.0, 1.0; GFDL-WITH-DISCLAIMERS; CC-BY-S)

During female arousal and sexual stimulation, the vaginal walls lubricate with a “sweating-like” reaction as a result of the increased blood flow to the genitals and pelvic blood congestion, creating a slippery and glistening film. The amount of this lubrication is highly variable. Some women with female ejaculation can release some of this fluid at the time of climax by virtue of powerful contractions of the vaginal and pelvic floor muscles.

Bartholin’s glands are paired, pea-size glands that drain just below and to each side of the vaginal opening. They are the female versions of the male bulbo-urethral glands and during sexual arousal they secrete small drops of fluid, resulting in moistening of the opening of the vagina.

Skene’s glands (para-urethral glands) are paired glands that drain just above and to each side of the urethral opening. They are the female homologue of the male prostate gland and secrete fluid with arousal.

Scientific studies have shown that those women who are capable of ejaculating very large volumes are actually having urinary incontinence due to an involuntary contraction of the urinary bladder that accompanies orgasm. This is often referred to as “squirting.”

Bottom Line: In the animal kingdom (including human beings), sex is a clever “bait and switch” scheme. In the seeming pursuit of a feel-good activity, in reality—determined by nature’s evolutionary sleight of hand—participants are hoodwinked into reproducing. The ultimate goal of the reproductive process is the fusion of genetic material from two individuals to perpetuate the species.

The penis functions as a “pistol” to place DNA deeply into the female’s reproductive tract with ejaculation a necessity for the process. Similarly, the female genitals need to be sufficiently lubricated to optimize this process and the combination of vaginal lubrication from enhanced blood flow contributed to by Skene’s and Bartholin’s secretions will optimize nature’s ultimate goal.

Wishing you the best of health,

2014-04-23 20:16:29

http://www.AndrewSiegelMD.com

A new blog is posted every week. To receive the blogs in the in box of your email go to the following link and click on “email subscription”:  www.HealthDoc13.WordPress.com

Author of Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health: available in e-book (Amazon Kindle, Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble Nook, Kobo) and paperback: www.MalePelvicFitness.com. In the works is The Kegel Fix: Recharging Female Pelvic, Sexual and Urinary Health.

Co-creator of Private Gym and PelvicRx, comprehensive, interactive, FDA-registered follow-along male pelvic floor muscle training programs. Built upon the foundational work of Dr. Arnold Kegel, these programs empower men to increase pelvic floor muscle strength, tone, power, and endurance: www.PrivateGym.com or Amazon.  

Pelvic Rx can be obtained at http://www.UrologyHealthStore.com, an online store that is home to quality urology products for men and women.  Use code UROLOGY10 at check out for 10% discount.