Women who attend Pilates classes get aroused easier and orgasm more, study finds

It is well known that exercise is good for physical and mental health.

But now researchers say it may also benefit women’s sex life.

A study of those who suffered a low libido, difficulties having an orgasm and pain during sex found that Pilates could tackle their problems.

The exercise, favoured by celebrities including Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner, was shown to boost desire, arousal and orgasms when practiced twice a week.

The Turkish researchers behind the study said classes could be a ‘novel treatment’ for those suffering from sexual problems that are thought to plague up to eight in 10 women.

A study of those who suffered a low libido, difficulties having an orgasm and pain during sex found that Pilates could tackle their problems. The exercise, favoured by celebrities including Hailey Bieber and Kendall Jenner (pictured), was shown to boost desire, arousal and orgasms when practiced twice a week

A study of those who suffered a low libido, difficulties having an orgasm and pain during sex found that Pilates could tackle their problems. The exercise, favoured by celebrities including Hailey Bieber (left) and Kendall Jenner (right), was shown to boost desire, arousal and orgasms when practiced twice a week

Pilates involves repetitive exercises performed on a yoga mat or a bed-like machine to boost strength, stability and flexibility

Pilates involves repetitive exercises performed on a yoga mat or a bed-like machine to boost strength, stability and flexibility

What is female sexual dysfunction? 

Female sexual dysfunction (FSD) is a condition that covers symptoms including a lack of sexual desire, difficulties getting aroused or having an orgasm and pain during sex.

Studies have suggested between 10 and 80 per cent of women worldwide are sufferers, depending on how the term is defined.

Women are diagnosed with FSD if they have had symptoms for six months or more and in at least three-quarters of their sexual encounters.

Treatments include lubricants and vaginal moisturisers, menopause drug Tibolone which has been shown to boost sexual desire and therapy. 

Research has also suggested that exercise and acupuncture may ease symptoms.

Urologists at Sakarya University in Turkey recruited 36 women aged 20 to 50 who had been in a sexually-active relationship for at least three months and had regular periods.

The volunteers all suffered female sexual dysfunction (FSD) — a condition that covers symptoms including a lack of sexual desire, difficulties getting aroused or having an orgasm and pain during sex. 

Studies have suggested between 10 and 80 per cent of women worldwide are sufferers, depending on how the term is defined.

Previous research has also shown that lower levels of physical activity is linked with a higher risk of suffering sexual dysfunction. 

The researchers, led by Dr Fikret Halis, said there are few medicines available for FSD, so studies into other ways of easing symptoms, such as exercise, are need.

Each volunteer in the study attended an hour-long Pilates class twice a week for three months and abstained from all other exercise. 

Pilates involves repetitive exercises performed on a yoga mat or a bed-like machine to boost strength, stability and flexibility.

The researchers said it ‘aims to achieve better functioning of the body’ by strengthening ‘the lower trunk’.

It is also focused on six basic principles: centering, concentration, control, precision, breath, and flow, they said.

Before and after the three-month exercise plan, participants completed one questionnaire on their sex life and a second to assess whether they were depressed. 

The results, published in the Spanish Journal of Andrology, show their sex life improved dramatically.

Their self-reported score jumped from 12 to 29 out of 95, on average. A score below 26 is considered to be a sign of female sexual dysfunction.

Their levels of desire improved by 136 per cent, while number of orgasms they had increased by 140 per cent and their pain during sex dropped by 116 per cent.

Meanwhile, their mood dramatically improved.

Their score on the depression survey dropped from 25 to 14 out of 63, falling below the 17 point threshold, with higher scores considered a marker of depression. 

The researchers wrote: ‘Despite the Pilates exercise’s popularity and health claims, no prospective research has been conducted to measure its therapeutic effects on sexual dysfunction of adult female populations.

‘Our findings suggest the potential for Pilates exercise programs may improve sexual functions in women with FSD and maybe a novel treatment option for FSD.’

The team did not investigate the mechanisms behind their findings.

But they said changes in women’s sexual response are ‘closely tied to day-to-day fluctuations in happiness, enthusiasm, calmness and fear’.

Previous studies have shown that Pilates boosts mood, life satisfaction and health, which could explain the link.

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