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  1. #1
    Registered User zmajcica's Avatar
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    lifting and hypertonic pelvic floor

    i know this might sound weird, and is essentially a Google self-diagnosis, but hear me out. i would really appreciate hearing from other women if they have had similar experiences.

    I'm a an amateur and newbie (40yr old, squat 60kg dl 80kg, bench 35kg) and ive been training haphazardly over the past three years. But this September and October i got really into it and was at the gym 3-4 a week and seeing very nice progress. in the second month i noticed that i was finding it difficult to get aroused and even more difficult to achieve orgasm. and it felt that i was unable to really relax my pelvic floor. [edit: in fact i realised that whenever i paid attention, my pelvic floor was tight and tense and difficult to release] a bit of googling and i came across the idea of a hypertonic pelvic floor (i also do kegel exercises when I'm bored, probably a bit too much..) and some websites mentioned that lifting heavy could be connected with this. of course it can also be stress related, like some people carry the tension in their neck or shoulders, for others it is the pelvic floor. additionally this website *connects this with orgasms.

    edit: to be clear, please don't focus on the orgasm part, that just happened to be a symptom for me, my concern is the tightening of the pelvic floor and how that might connect with lifting.

    i have now been on holiday and out of the gym for almost three weeks and i must say i have pretty much reverted back to normal 😁. i am off course relieved and happy about this.

    i guess my question is if any of you ladies have had our have heard of similar experiences?

    i understand the stress explanation could be the valid one, but the thing is i wasn't under any particular stress, although granted being on holiday is still less stressful than that.

    but i am concerned if lifting was even part of the explanation. does that mean i was maybe doing something wrong in how i lift? or was progressing too quickly? I'm not sure how to proceed when i get back, as i really want to continue lifting - although not necessarily progress much more, but maintaining my current fitness level and body shape would be my aim.

    looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

    * i cannot post links, the website is pelvicpainrehab dot com and the title of the article is "come again? an orgasm guide"
    Last edited by zmajcica; 11-10-2019 at 11:34 PM.
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  2. #2
    Assuming I woke up itsagoodday's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by zmajcica View Post
    i know this might sound weird, and is essentially a Google self-diagnosis
    Congratulations on your wonderful example of why people shouldn't be self-diagnosing. If something about your body has changed, talk to your doctor.
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  3. #3
    Registered User zmajcica's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by itsagoodday View Post
    Congratulations on your wonderful example of why people shouldn't be self-diagnosing. If something about your body has changed, talk to your doctor.
    haha, fair. but i did talk to my doctor. she did a bunch of blood tests that were all fine and i have a referral for a pelvic floor physiotherapist, but that will take months. all she said is that i should make sure i'm lifting properly and not lift too heavy. but she doesn't know the first thing about powerlifting that's why i'm asking here.
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  4. #4
    Focus on yourself kimm4's Avatar
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    I'm a competitive bb and have been lifting heavy in the gym for over 30 yrs. Your issue doesn't have anything to do with lifting. I hope you can get things figured out.

    Good luck!
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  5. #5
    Registered User zmajcica's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kimm4 View Post
    I'm a competitive bb and have been lifting heavy in the gym for over 30 yrs. Your issue doesn't have anything to do with lifting. I hope you can get things figured out.

    Good luck!
    Hi kimm4, thanks for the kind wishes! but i'm sorry if i find your reaction a bit dismissive. i understand you've not heard of anything like this, and that's to be expected, it's clearly not a common thing. so great for confirming that. but can you really say it's not connected?

    perhaps i shouldn't have lead with the arousal/orgasm aspect so much (i've edited my original post a bit, to tone that part down).

    what i'm trying to say is that i think i may have developed hypertension of the pelvic floor from lifting. this can actually manifest itself as pain in the region, which i didn't have. but the sexual aspect can also be connected, which is how i made the connection.

    my point is that if i had come here and said i think i am getting tension headaches because of neck pain, which i think is connected to my deadlift, would you react the same way? i'm doing something relatively extreme with my body, i may not be doing it right, it's causing a different muscle group to tighten in a way that it shouldn't. that then has a knock on effect somewhere else. can you really dismiss that as a possibility, just because you haven't seen that in a long career in this field?

    i hope this makes sense, i'm happy to hear not more women have this issue - because it's a ****ty issue to have if it really is connected - but i also expect not many of you have had this or heard of this. my post was primarily to find out if anyone maybe has an inkling, and secondarily to put it out there in case anyone else like me is searching the internet for information, to put my experience down for them to have the information e.g. that it was fine again after a few weeks.

    hope this makes sense, thanks again for taking the time to write.
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    Registered User Rabbitjb's Avatar
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    Never heard of it TBH

    Get a decent trainer drop your weights and break down your form then build up again

    I can’t imagine any muscle contraction or muscle development impacting that significantly on the perineum, pelvic or ab muscles to cause what sounds like some form of long term spasm

    But I am aware of an awful lot of google med condition sites that have no basis in reality but lots of support because they offer an acceptable “diagnosis” for a myriad of symptoms

    It is good that a break has reset whatever issue you were experiencing, correct your form and keep lifting
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  7. #7
    Focus on yourself kimm4's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by zmajcica View Post
    what i'm trying to say is that i think i may have developed hypertension of the pelvic floor from lifting.
    I can't imagine something like that happening when you've only been lifting for 2 months. You also mentioned progressing too quickly...another thing that doesn't happen with such little time under the bar. It doesn't work like that at all.

    I would never advise anyone to stop lifting or not lift heavy. Let's be real, there's people out there who do extreme forms of exercise all the time...things a hell of a lot more difficult compared to lifting some weights.

    If you feel your form might be off lighten your load and focus on your form till you become more comfortable.
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  8. #8
    Assuming I woke up itsagoodday's Avatar
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    OP, your reasoning just doesn't make any sense, and I suspect you are selectively picking information from less than reliable sources. I just spent some time googling this myself. A few things to note. There are a whole lot of sketchy web sites and anecdotal / blog type "information" out there. Pelvic floor dysfunction is certainly a very real thing, and the nonrelaxing / hypertonic variety is quite real as well. So let me point you in a better direction.

    Here are two examples of reliable sources of information on the subject. One is from the Mayo Clinic, another from a Urology journal. Both are published through the NIH (National Institute of Health) web site:

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3498251/

    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4071781/

    Things to learn from these articles. This is predominantly a pain-based condition, and it is ONLY described as pain based for possible sexual issues. You have no pain. Difficulty with the pelvic floor tends to affect multiple things because there is a whole lot going on in that region, and it is commonly associated with concurrent bowel and urinary issues. Which you don't have. Symptoms tend to develop very slowly and take time to resolve, one article notes that patients can start developing their problems in childhood. You are describing something that appeared and disappeared within two weeks.

    This is also not a condition that requires guesswork to diagnose. There are simple physical exams and other testing available. If you're guessing, you either need to get that testing done, or you don't have that condition.

    But hey, if you're interested in my guessing? You state you've been lifting for 3 years but got "really into it" for 2 months, and for a few weeks in the second month you developed libido and orgasm issues. When people state they suddenly "got really serious about" working out or "really into" any kind of exercise, they tend to make multiple changes in their lifestyle at once. They may start going to the gym, or go more frequently, or change their exercise regime. But they also tend to start doing some other things as well. Like start taking new supplements. Or change what they're eating. Or try a fad diet. Or just cut back their overall calories. Or maybe they were already on low calories but increased their overall activity level. You haven't posted your stats. We don't know your height and weight, we don't know if you lost or gained weight in that time frame or how much, we don't know how many calories you were eating or whether you were tracking them to assure a healthy balance of carbs, protein, and fats, we don't have any of that information from you. Women's hormones can be very easily screwed up by things like... being underweight... restricting calories too dramatically for the given work load... certain types of fad diets... overly restricting fats in your diet. These are things that are well documented.

    Oh, and I did also google whether there were any reputable sources linking this condition to weight lifting / strength training / resistance training. I looked it up using multiple terms for both the condition and lifting. There were none.
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  9. #9
    Registered User zmajcica's Avatar
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    Hi itsagoodday, first of all thank you for taking your time and looking into this quite thoroughly! You make a number of good points, probably things i should have mentioned in my OP, but for various reasons neglected to. I hope i can elaborate a bit more to make my point or rather issue clearer.

    First of all, i appreciate you linking the two articles. i had read both of them actually. i understand that google is a dark place and the danger of ending up in a self-serving unbiased bubble is great, but for the record, i am actually an academic researcher (not in the medical field obvs) but this means i have access to journal articles as well as having reasonable confidence in my ability to preform these sort of searches.

    but I must say i feel like you're misinterpreting the first article, i'll quote a section of the abstract that i think is relevant:

    "[...] women affected by nonrelaxing pelvic floor dysfunction may present with a broad range of nonspecific symptoms. These may include pain and problems with defecation, urination, and sexual function [..]"

    So no, pain is not a necessary part of the dysfunction as described, nor is the co-occurrence of multiple symptoms.

    but you are right in two ways. first of all, i do also have symptoms related to bowel function. these actually are a long standing issue for me, but were aggravated in the period in question. and they are now back to previous levels i'd say. i guess i failed to mention this because it felt unnecessarily complicated to include.

    and second of all you are right that the paper talks of sexual dysfunction in terms of painful penetration, but does not speak of sexual dysfunction in any non-pain terms. and i'm not arguing with that.

    i'm not saying i achieved (in two months) a full blown tightening of my pelvic muscles that would cause pain on penetration. i am just suggesting that it could have caused enough tightening to affect something much more delicate, the involuntary contractions, the blood flow etc that allow for sexual arousal. i mean one of them literally attaches to the clitoral hood, their connection with 'orgasmic potential' is in the literature.

    i'm not sure what you mean by simple physical exams, because there don't seem to be any. i saw a gynaecologist and a proctologist, and have referrals, in addition to a physiotherapist specialising in pelvic floor dysfunction, to also have an anorectal manometry, muscle biofeedback testing and defecography. none of the doctors i saw thought a simple exam sufficed. (none of them questioned my reasoning either)

    i should also note that when i first realised the issue (and self-diagnosed) - my first doctor's appointments were all within a week or so of that - i also started doing pelvic floor relaxation and lengthening exercises (yes, from the internet), which may or may not have contributed to this resolving so quickly.

    as to your guesses, they are all great points, i absolutely agree. alas, none of them apply in my case, not even a single one. i didn't even massively increase my overall physical activity, i just (for once) was very good and consistent with my gym routine, and saw nice results, which felt good and had me in a nice positive loop. normally something work or life related always comes along and has me out of the gym for a while and then i just have to muster up the determination to go back and start building up my form again. this time this didn't happen for a straight two months, which was a nice change from the fits and starts of my normal routine over the past three years. i lost maybe 1kg max, i'm very happy with my weight and make sure to keep it where it is (67kg at 180cm).

    but again, thanks for bringing up several things i could and should have mentioned from the start.

    i'm honestly a bit perplexed at everyone being so dismissive of the idea that a muscle group that is generally relatively poorly understood, and even more difficult to be conscious of most of the time could be affected by strenuous workout? I mean it's right in the middle of things, surely it's not outrageous to think that work on all of the surrounding muscles might affect it.

    as to your google search: exactly, that's why i am in this forum asking this question! i mean enough articles i'd seen mentioned "heavy lifting" or "strenuous activity" to give me the idea that it might be connected in the first place. and none of my doctors questioned that idea, they all said to take it easy with the heavy stuff. but that's why i wanted to ask here, to see if anyone else had (heard of) a similar experience. people are different, there is all sorts out there, i just thought this wasn't such an extreme proposition as it seems to have landed as.
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    Registered User zmajcica's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by kimm4 View Post
    I can't imagine something like that happening when you've only been lifting for 2 months. You also mentioned progressing too quickly...another thing that doesn't happen with such little time under the bar. It doesn't work like that at all.
    sorry, maybe i wasn't clear exactly on what i was doing, see my answer above for some more detail. as to your comment about progressing too quickly, that's good to know, and a relief.


    Originally Posted by kimm4 View Post
    I would never advise anyone to stop lifting or not lift heavy. Let's be real, there's people out there who do extreme forms of exercise all the time...things a hell of a lot more difficult compared to lifting some weights.

    If you feel your form might be off lighten your load and focus on your form till you become more comfortable.
    just because some people's bodies have almost superhuman abilities doesn't mean you can be dismissive of people's whose bodies don't though. not everything works for everyone? but i absolutely agree, i definitely plan on continuing lifting and just taking it easy and paying much more attention to my pelvic floor
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  11. #11
    Registered User Rabbitjb's Avatar
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    Confirmation bias is not medical diagnosis and neither, as you noted yourself, is google search

    Wondering why you’re ignoring the advice given upthread?
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    Registered User zmajcica's Avatar
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    Originally Posted by Rabbitjb View Post
    Confirmation bias is not medical diagnosis and neither, as you noted yourself, is google search

    Wondering why you’re ignoring the advice given upthread?
    ooh, sorry, i didn't mean to skip your post! I'm on my phone, difficult to keep track..

    i guess I'm just confused why you think there's sth wrong with my form. or that i should drop down. i mean if you cannot see how my lifting could have caused something like this anyway, why suggest that? or is it just to put me at ease?
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