Relaxing and Toning the Pelvic Floor: Exercises for Painful Sex

Sex should be a pleasurable experience for everyone involved. Yet 10 to 20% of people with vaginas have experienced pain during sex.

If you’re experiencing painful sex and the doctor has told you your pelvic floor is part of the problem, you don’t have to take it lying down.

An unhealthy pelvic floor may be standing between you and your next orgasm.

Stretch and tone these muscles with our eight tried-and-true exercises and you’ll be getting busy between the sheets again in no time.

Table of Contents

sex pain and pelvi floor exercises

How Can an Unhealthy Pelvic Floor Contribute to Painful Sex?

The pelvic floor is a collection of muscles and tissues that form a hammock at the bottom of your pelvis, holding your reproductive organs in place. 

In addition to controlling bladder and bowel function, your pelvic floor muscles relax the vaginal cavity to allow penetration and contract during sex to aid in orgasm.

Similar to the other muscles in the body, pelvic floor muscles can be too weak or too tense which can lead to issues like:

  • Incontinence
  • Bowel dysfunction; and
  • Painful sex

Painful sex, also known as dyspareunia, can be caused by many conditions including:

If sex is painful for you, be evaluated by a doctor to rule out any type of infection or anything else that may require medical care.

Pelvic floor tension and a reduction in natural lubrication often go hand in hand. If you experience any dryness during sex, try using lubrication to make sex more enjoyable for both you and your partner.

pelvic floor exercises for painful sex

Weakness in the Pelvic Floor Muscle Group

Many factors can contribute to a weak pelvic floor including:

Since the pelvic floor supports organs in the pelvic region, a weak pelvic floor can cause your organs to sag lower in your pelvis than normal.

This condition, called pelvic organ prolapse (POP), is often associated with pain during sex due to a malpositioned organ and protruding tissue making penetration uncomfortable.

Tightness in the Pelvic Floor Muscle Group 

If your body tightens your pelvic floor muscles when it should be relaxing them, you may develop non-relaxing pelvic floor dysfunction, also known as hypertonicity.

Penetration of any kind can become painful when these muscles are unable to relax. 

If your pelvic floor muscles become too tense you may also experience involuntary muscle spasms. 

Pelvic floor muscle spasms during vaginal penetration can make …

  • Vaginal intercourse
  • Tampon insertion; and 
  • Gynecological exams 

… difficult and painful.

painful sex pelvic floor exercises

How Do You Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor for Sex?

Exercises that target the core and the pelvic floor are a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor for sex.

Pelvic floor therapy involves exercises designed to:

  • Increase pelvic blood flow
  • Release trapped nerves; and 
  • Decrease pain sensitivity

Strengthening your pelvic floor can help to …

  • Relax
  • Balance
  • Stretch 
  • Tone; and
  • Restore

… pelvic and vaginal muscles to optimal health.

Finding Relief: 8 Pelvic Floor Exercises for Painful Sex 

Your pelvic floor muscles play an important role in sex and orgasms. 

Healthy pelvic floor muscles allow for stronger, longer-lasting orgasms.

Pelvic floor disorders are significantly associated with reduced sexual arousal and can negatively affect your relationship.

Don’t waste another opportunity, find relief by practicing these eight pelvic floor exercises for painful sex.

#1: Kegels

If you’ve done any searching for pelvic floor exercises, you’ve probably come across Kegel exercises (Kegels). 

Named for its inventor, gynecologist Dr. Arnold Kegel, Kegels are the most common pelvic floor exercise. They involve contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor in a clench-and-release activity to strengthen the muscles in and around your pelvic floor.

But if you’re new to doing Kegel exercises, identifying and isolating the right set of muscles can be tricky.

This tip can help you locate and activate your pelvic floor muscles: 

  • The next time you take a trip to the bathroom, try to stop your urine mid-flow. 
  • You should feel your pelvic floor muscles engage. 
  • Then relax and release the urine flow again.

It’s important that you only use this method to locate your pelvic floor muscles.

Interrupting your urine flow regularly or too frequently, or not completely emptying your bladder, can increase your risk for a UTI.

If you still aren’t sure you’ve found the right muscles, talk with your gynecologist.

How To Do Kegel Exercises

Always be sure you have an empty bladder before doing Kegel exercises.

If you’re a beginner, find a quiet, private place to sit or lie down. 

As you grow in your practice, you’ll find you can do Kegel exercises anywhere.

Begin by squeezing the muscles in your pelvic floor for a count of three, then relax them for a count of three. 

Repeat for 10 repetitions. 

Continue practicing until you can hold it for a count of 10.

Aim to do three sets of 10 repetitions every day, but don’t overdo it.

Just like other parts of your body, the muscles in your pelvic floor can experience injuries from being overworked.

#2: Diaphragmatic Breathing

The diaphragm is a muscle that sits near the bottom of your rib cage, separating your heart and lungs from your abdominal cavity.

Shaped like a parachute, the diaphragm connects down to your pelvic floor.

The diaphragm works in harmony with the pelvic floor to:

  • Promote muscle relaxation
  • Decrease pain; and 
  • Encourage optimal muscle function

Practicing diaphragmatic breathing allows you to stretch and strengthen your pelvic floor and can even be performed during intercourse to decrease pain.

How To Practice Diaphragmatic Breathing

Begin by lying on your back with one hand placed on your chest and the other on your belly, just below your rib cage. 

Inhale a long, slow breath for five seconds. 

Feel the hand on your belly rise while your chest hand stays still. 

As you take a deep breath into your belly, the diaphragm pulls down on the “cords of the parachute” while your pelvic floor stretches and relaxes.


Now slowly exhale for five seconds.

As the air slowly escapes your lungs, the hand on your belly should fall while your chest hand remains still. 

On the exhale, both your diaphragm and pelvic floor return to their resting positions.

You can start this breathing exercise for five minutes each day. 

With practice, you can adapt to different positions and lengths of time.

pelvic floor exercises and sex pain

#3: Hip Bridges

There are many benefits to practicing hip bridges including:

  • Engaging the core muscles
  • Strengthening the: 
    • Hamstrings
    • Glutes; and
    • Calves 
  • Stretching the lower back; and
  • Activating the pelvic floor muscles

People who perform hip bridges regularly also tend to have better posture since building strength on the posterior side of the body can help hold your spine in alignment and improve stability.

How To Do Hip Bridges

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent. 

Check that your feet are in line with your hips.

Place your arms down on either side of your hips with palms facing down.

Take a deep breath in and squeeze your …

  • Glutes
  • Hamstrings; and
  • Pelvic floor

… while pushing your heels into the ground to lift your hips off the floor.

Notice a diagonal line from your neck to your knees as your body balances on your:

  • Upper back
  • Shoulders; and 
  • Heels

Hold this position for two seconds, then exhale lowering yourself slowly and returning to the starting position.

You can repeat 10 to 15 times for two to three sets with 30 seconds of rest between each set.

For added strength training you can try this exercise with one leg while the other rests flat on the floor.

#4: Child’s Pose

Most commonly practiced in yoga, child's pose is an excellent way to stretch your:

  • Lumbar spine
  • Hips; and 
  • Pelvic floor

Child’s pose is often prescribed by physical therapists as a way to increase mobility and decrease stiffness that accumulates from everyday activities.

How To Do Child’s Pose

Start in a kneeling position on your hands and knees. 

If this position hurts, roll up a towel or blanket to kneel and place it under your knees.

Bring your knees out wide while keeping your feet together.

Sit up straight, then gently bow forward, bringing your torso downward and your head toward the floor between your thighs. 

If you feel too much pressure on your …

  • Knees
  • Hips; or 
  • Back

… place your forearms on the ground in front of you and rest your head on your arms.

If you feel comfortable in this position, keep your arms stretched out long in front of you and breathe in slowly.

As you inhale you should feel your pelvic floor drop, and as you exhale you’ll feel it rise. 

Try breathing in this position for at least 30 seconds, building up to a few minutes. Repeat three times.

For modifications, you can try this pose:

  • In a chair with your hands on a table
  • In a squat position; or 
  • Standing in front of a wall with both arms outstretched high on the wall

#5: Split Tabletop

If you practice pilates, you may recognize the tabletop move as a foundational leg move in your exercise.

The split tabletop is known to activate the:

  • Core
  • Hips; and 
  • Pelvic floor
How To Do a Split Tabletop

Lie on the floor flat on your back. 

Imagine you’re sitting in a chair, feet flat on the floor.

Bend your knees and lift your legs at a 90-degree angle to the floor.

Think of your back on the floor as the back of the chair you are sitting on.

Keeping your legs together, activate your abs and inner thighs.

Inhale and gently separate your thighs into a straddle, each knee falling outward.

Exhale and slowly bring your thighs together to the original position.

Repeat 10 to 15 times for three sets, pausing for 30 seconds between sets.

#6: Happy Baby

The happy baby is another common yoga pose great for stretching your pelvic floor.

This relaxing pose is well-suited for all skill levels and helps increase flexibility and range of motion.

How To Do Happy Baby

Begin by lying on your back.

Take a deep breath and as you exhale, then bring your knees up toward your armpits, keeping your feet and knees wide.

Hold the outside of your feet. 

Alternatively, you can grab your:

  • Shins
  • Ankles; or
  • The backs of your knees

Try to keep your ankles positioned over your knees, perpendicular to the ground. 

Breathe slowly.

As you inhale, you may feel a drop through your pelvic floor and a rise on the exhale.

For a deeper stretch, gently rock your hips back and forth, stretching your lower back against the floor.

Breathe in this position for at least 30 seconds or longer, three times per day.

#7: Adductor Stretches

If you have a weak pelvic floor, you may find your inner thigh muscles, also known as hip adductors, contract more often to compensate for the weakness. 

That’s because the hip adductor and pelvic floor muscle groups share connective tissue, called fascia, and work together in hip function. 

Adductor tension can also influence pelvic floor tension.

In addition to pelvic floor pain, you may also experience some pretty painful thigh cramps during sex.

The adductors play a key role in keeping your …

  • Hips
  • Knees
  • Lower back; and
  • Core

… balanced and stable.

Stretching your adductors regularly can improve pelvic floor strength and:

  • Increase flexibility
  • Improve performance; and 
  • Prevent injury and stiffness
How To Do Adductor Stretches

To do adductor stretches, start by lying on your back with the soles of your feet touching.

Let your knees fall out to the sides. This position should feel relaxing. 

If you feel a tightness or pulling along your inner thighs or in your pubic bones, you can place pillows under your knees for additional support.

You can lie in an adductor stretch for 30 seconds, repeating at least three times each day.

#8: Piriformis Stretching

The piriformis muscle is located on either side of the body, reaching from your sacrum — where your spine meets your pelvis — and attaching around the top of your leg. 

Fascia connects the piriformis to the pelvic floor.

This connectivity means releasing tension in the piriformis muscle can help reduce tightness and discomfort in your:

  • Glutes
  • Hips; and
  • Pelvic floor
How To Do Piriformis Stretching

Lie on your back with your feet flat on the floor and knees bent.

Cross your left ankle over your right knee, like you’re sitting in a chair.

Grabbing your right leg behind the knee, pull your right thigh in toward your chest.

Breathe slowly and feel the stretch on the outside of your left hip.

Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.

Complete this stretch three times on each side.

pelvic floor exercises for painful sex

Chiavaye: All-Natural Lubrication To Help With Painful Sex While Your Pelvic Floor Relaxes and Tones

The key to enjoying sex again doesn’t stop at a healthy pelvic floor.

When things get steamy, you want to make sure everything moves smoothly.

Fortunately Chiavaye has got you covered.

Cover yourself in all-natural Chiavaye sex lubricant.

Chiavaye is consciously-made with no fillers or toxic ingredients that can cause additional harm, risk, or pain.

Whether it’s due to …

  • Birthing
  • Endometriosis
  • Menopause
  • Incontinence; or
  • Another condition

 … painful sex can take a toll on your libido.

Armed with a renewed pelvic floor and Chiavaye’s vegan personal moisturizer, you can take back your sexual pleasure.

Don’t leave your next orgasm solely up to solving your pelvic floor problems — take holistic control of your satisfaction with Chiavaye.


The content in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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