Ask the Doctors: I Tighten Up When I Orgasm

I am having an issue during intercourse, and I hope this is the right place to ask advice about it! I’m female, and my male partner has a member with a wide-enough circumference that it’s a bit of a challenge to work with unless I’m totally relaxed and lubed-up. Usually after enough foreplay it’s fine, but the problems start to occur after I orgasm. I’m multi-orgasmic, have a fantastic time, but then it’s like my PC muscles won’t let go afterwards, and I’m too tight to let my partner move around comfortably for either of us. Lube helps some, but not enough. (I’ve been ok with other partners, but this one is big enough that I’m trying to figure out what to do!)

Any ideas on how to work on this? My first instinct is to do some kegel exercises.

I can definitely see why that’d be your first thought. After all, Kegel exercises are widely promoted as a way to address pelvic floor issues. In fact, we even have our own page of instructions on them. But from what you’re saying, I think that they’re not what you need.

The pelvic floor includes a whole bunch of muscles, with the PC muscle being just one of them. We often think of the pelvic floor as needing to gain tone and strength and it’s true that for many people, the muscles lose tone over time. That’s especially true for women, who tend to have more flexibility than men, especially after having children. But the muscles can also become too tight or go into spasm. When that happens, doing the exercises is likely to make the situation worse instead of better.

It’s pretty common for people to tighten up after orgasm, although I don’t think anyone has done any research on it. But it sounds to me like you’d do better if you learned how to help them relax. It takes practice, but it’s totally possible to learn how to control and relax the pelvic muscles. For some people, they can spasm so strongly that any penetration is difficult or painful. Vaginismus is one condition that can cause that. Now, I’m not suggesting that you have vaginismus, given that this is something that only happens with this one partner and only after orgasm, but some of the techniques that can help people with vaginismus might help you, too.

Rather than trying to figure it out on your own, I’d suggest working with a pelvic floor physical therapist. They’d be able to help you identify exactly which muscles are causing the difficulty and offer the right exercises. I’m a big fan of the Pelvic Health & Rehabilitation Center here in San Francisco, especially since they do phone consultations. I’d also trust any recommendation of theirs, if you aren’t local.


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Dr. Charlie Glickman

Charlie Glickman is the Education Program Manager at Good Vibrations. He also writes, blogs, teaches workshops and university courses, presents at conferences, and trains sexuality educators. He’s certified by the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, and loves geeking out about sex, relationships, sex-positivity, love and shame, communities of erotic affiliation, and sexual practices and techniques of all varieties. Follow him online, on Twitter at @charlieglickman, or on Facebook.

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