Kegel exercises can be an easy way to regain strength in your pelvic floor, help with urinary or bowel incontinence, boost sexual pleasure and so much more.
What Are Kegel Exercises?
The pelvic floor is made up of many different muscles located beneath the bladder, bowels and uterus. These muscles perform important functions including maintaining bladder and bowel control, stabilizing connecting joints, aiding in lymphatic drainage, controlling abdominal pressure and stabilizing the spine. They can be weakened by things like childbirth, chronic coughing and sneezing and even being overweight.
Kegel exercises are exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. So named because they were first described by Arnold Kegel in 1948, these exercises can be very helpful for people with bladder or bowel incontinence. They’re also easy to fit into your daily routine, because they can be discreetly performed anywhere, even sitting in your office.
Who Will Benefit From Doing Kegels?
Both men and women benefit from doing Kegel exercises. You could find Kegels helpful if you…
- leak urine when your bladder isn’t full
- urinate too frequently
- have trouble emptying your bladder thoroughly
- have difficulty passing stool even when you are not constipated
- leak stool
- are a man who wants to achieve stronger erections
- are a woman who would like to increase the quality of her orgasms
- are a pregnant woman who wants to prevent weakened pelvic floor muscles caused by pregnancy and childbirth
Weak pelvic floor muscles have many possible causes. Factors that increase your risk include:
- Chronic sneezing
- Chronic coughing
- Gynecological surgery
- Prostate surgery
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Overuse or underuse of pelvic floor muscles
- Back pain
- Being overweight
- Chronic constipation
- Heavy lifting
Kegels May Improve Your Sex Life
Some women who have a weak pelvic floor also have difficulty achieving satisfying orgasms. Dr. Arnold Kegel found that patients like this benefit from restoring strength to the pelvic floor, which helps to achieve better sexual experiences. If you think your sex life is being negatively impacted by a weak pelvic floor, Kegel exercises are a simple and risk-free method that could help. Kegels may also improve vaginal tone, providing a better sensation for your partner.
Men can benefit from Kegels just as much as women. Because pelvic floor exercises improve blood flow to the whole region surrounding the penis, they can help men with erectile dysfunction, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments and lifestyle changes. Additionally, over time Kegels can help men to last longer in bed. Some men even use Kegels during sexual intercourse to delay orgasm.
How to Do Kegels
The first step in learning to do Kegel exercises is to identify the correct muscles to be contracted. When doing a Kegel, your abdomen, thighs and buttocks should all be relaxed. Try intentionally stopping your flow of urine; the muscles contracted when you do this are the pelvic floor muscles. If you are a woman and you’re not sure if you’re contracting all the right muscles, try inserting a finger into your vagina before doing a Kegel. Your vaginal muscles should tighten and move upward if you have done it correctly. Both men and women should make sure that they can also feel their anus contract during a Kegel.
Once you have discovered how to control your pelvic floor muscles, you can then incorporate Kegel exercises into your daily routine. Contract the pelvic floor muscles for five seconds. Take a five-second break. Repeat until you have done three kegels. Try to do this set of three Kegels about ten times a day. Work your way up to holding the Kegel for 10 seconds. With this routine, you should see results in a few weeks, or in a couple months at most.
Don’t perform Kegels during urination except for the preliminary muscle identification. Doing so can increase your risk of bladder infections. Additionally, don’t do more Kegels than you need to; overexercising the muscles can actually worsen your symptoms due to the muscle fatigue that it causes.