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Curious Carol wrote:

Hi, guys —

My question is about the sinfulness of women doing pelvic floor exercises (kegels), either manually or electronically. All women today are advised to do these in order to prevent problems later in life. In particular, it is advised to do them after having children. For some women these exercises cause unwanted orgasms.

  • Are they then committing mortal sins?
  • If so, do these women just have to suffer incontinence and prolapse?

They would then have to go through major surgery which most women would rather avoid and which can often lead to complications. Even if they did have surgery, doctors still say women should do these exercises afterward.

Many thanks,

Carol

  { Is it sinful for women to do pelvic floor exercises (kegels), either manually or electronically? }

Bob replied:

Carol,

If the intent is not auto-eroticism (masturbation), then the exercises are fine — the unintended side effects is something of a moral double effect, which imparts no culpability to the individual.

For example, in the abortion argument we are always against it — including when it is to save the life of the mother however if, in the saving of the mother (in an emergency), the child is aborted (a regrettable outcome of the life-saving procedure), then it is permissible — inasmuch as the object of the act is not to kill the child but perform lifesaving intervention on the mother's behalf.

This is not the equivalent of doing evil that good may come of it, because the object was never evil. That is an important distinction in every moral act. You can't always control every circumstance but you must seek to do the good. Nor do we employ consequentialism and try to weigh the good versus evil and simply tip the scale — we just seek the good.

Martyrs in the Early Church didn't weigh the value of preserving their life over the act of lighting incense to feign devotion to a Roman God; they just did what was right and paid the price for it.

In this case, the orgasm side effect seems like some kind of illicit enjoyment underscoring the activity, but in fact, I believe that out of context, that very rush is more of a burden and embarrassment, causing more anguish than pleasure, so it is not difficult to frame the event in a way that does not impart some secret indulgence.

One caution, however, is buying into the cultural mores that suggest that these exercises should become an opportunity for a little self, sexual play:

  • Why not make it fun and buy this device to really stimulate yourself?

This is certainly not in keeping with our values and intent, and distorts the fundamental legitimacy of the program. The culture looks at masturbation as fine and desirable so it will promote this in a deviant way.

In that respect, the manual exercises are best done only under the counsel of a physician as should any kind of electronic assistance be sought.

Peace,

Bob Kirby

Carol replied:

Bob,

Thank you for your response.

Your answer is very helpful and comforting to a lot of women, I'm sure.

I agree with you that the whole thing can be more of a burden and embarrassment rather than pleasure. When trying to be holy it seems about as unholy as you can get. I have wondered if it's OK to pray to keep chaste whilst doing the exercises but somehow it doesn't seem right.

Carol

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