For years, a lot of people have argued that conversations about sex should stay limited to the bedroom, which can often mean that anyone with a question or concern may feel too embarrassed to share it openly.
Recently, TikTok user Giuls (@giulsandgemma) took to the app to share a revelation that's actually more common than you think. In the video, Giuls says that she has never had a full orgasm, something that she found out recently. She then apologizes to her previous sexual partners and clarifies that she wasn't faking an orgasm, her muscles simply weren't allowing for the full experience.
Giuls' video currently has 3 million views, 202.9K likes, and a comment section full of people who share the sentiment and want to learn more.
I spoke with Giuls, a 28-year-old based in Hamilton, New Jersey, who said that she suspected something might be wrong after hearing the discrepancies between her own experience orgasming versus others. Giuls said, "It never seemed to match up to how people spoke about them in movies or TV shows, but I convinced myself they were just over dramatizations — same with any pornography I checked out trying to compare."
Giuls brought up her concerns to a pelvic floor therapist, and said, "I realized at a certain point it couldn’t be what I was doing, it had to be that I was 'broken' in some way…but I refused to think of myself as 'broken,' I knew there had to be a reason and a solution." There, Giuls' pelvic floor therapist diagnosed her with pelvic floor dysfunction, and began taking steps to assemble a care team to fix the issue.
Giuls originally turned to TikTok when she had to move back in with her parents while struggling with her symptoms and feeling socially isolated during the pandemic. After sharing her story, Giuls realized that there were people who benefited from hearing her experience, and said, "I realized how many people I was able to help by being open about my [chronic illness] struggles and by sharing my resources. If I had found someone on the internet years ago like myself, maybe I would’ve gotten help way earlier."
To get more information about pelvic floor dysfunction, I spoke with Dr. Laura Meihofer, a pelvic floor therapist based in Minnesota. First, Dr. Meihofer gave a rundown of what the pelvic floor actually is. She said, "The pelvic floor is a group of 26 muscles that attach behind the pubic bone and run like a sling or a hammock attaching to the tailbone and base of the spine. These muscles have to be able to contract and lift as well as relax and lengthen."
Dr. Meihofer said that Giuls' problem is not uncommon, and she sees others with the same issue frequently in her practice. However, she added that more people may be suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction than we're aware of because of the illicit reputation that conversations about sexual health can receive. She said, "Clinically, I would say that this is significantly underreported for both men and women as this area, unfortunately, is still seen as 'taboo.' From my perspective, I think that sexual functioning should be considered one of the vital signs of health, similar to blood pressure and respiration rate."
Dr. Meihofer said that with someone who has a pelvic floor like Giuls, the muscles are already tight and inflexible, which means that during sex, they won't experience optimal blood flow. Moreover, sex adds even more muscle tension, which Dr. Meihofer said further decreases the pelvic floor's range of motion, and added, "When there is limited space due to tension, it is challenging to get adequate nerve stimulation. In order to orgasm, you have to recruit enough nerves to go over the threshold." Dr. Meihofer also said that because the muscles lack flexibility, the body can't move through the full involuntary contraction and relaxation sequence that occurs during a full orgasm.
If someone feels they may be suffering from pelvic floor dysfunction during sex, Dr. Meihofer recommended that they take time to themself to determine what their "normal" is in terms of orgasming and sexual pleasure, both alone and with a partner. She explained, "From there, this will give them the language and understanding to reach out to a medical provider and discuss their concerns."
For a patient with an issue like this, Dr. Meihofer will typically send over a list of questions prior to the patient's first PT appointment in order to determine the function of the pelvic floor, along with any issues that may need screening. During an in-person meeting, Dr. Meihofer said that she'll conduct a physical exam and palpate the pelvic floor muscles to see how they react. If the patient elects to meet virtually, Dr. Meihofer added that she'll often use diagrams, as it's crucial for the patient to understand the "why" behind their issue. After this, Dr. Meihofer said that treatment can begin, which typically includes manual therapy to promote stretching and relaxation.
Dr. Meihofer also recommends that patients perform diaphragmicbreathing for five minutes two to three times a day, and said, "When you perform this type of breathing, you actually help to stretch and mobilize the pelvic floor muscles." She also advised practicing yoga postures two to three times a day for 90 seconds, and explained, "These postures mimic a type of manual technique called positional inhibition. This technique helps to release tension through a specific muscle so that it can have a full range of motion and flexibility." She added that if done daily for six to eight weeks, you should see some improvement.
Ultimately, Dr. Meihofer stressed that if you're struggling with this issue, don't be afraid to speak up about it. She said, "So many times, people are nervous and ashamed to talk about this area of their body, and that is okay. But please don't suffer in silence because of this fear, shame, or lack of support. Reach out for help, because you deserve to feel your best, orgasms and all!"