Should You Be Doing Kegel Exercises?
If you’re considering Kegels and wondering whether they’re right for you or whether you should be doing them – just stop. Yes, they are, and yes you categorically should. And before you ask: no, it’s never too late to get started!
You’ve probably heard about this wonder workout before: clench and release exercises for strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, a regular routine can reap benefits ranging from stronger orgasms to improved continence. But who in particular should be incorporating Kegels into their day-to-day intimate wellness? Short answer: all of us, men and women, young and old. Here’s everything you need to know, and how get exercising!
A Pelvic Floor Muscles 101
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles that acts like a hammock extending from the front of the pelvis to the coccyx. Think of it as a kind of sling supporting the bladder, bowel, and in women, uterus. Like any other muscle group, the pelvic floor works best when it gets regular exercise. Relax, gym-phobes: unlike other kinds of workouts, getting your Kegels on is hardly arduous (although there is a knack!), and better yet, you’ll start noticing results quick smart.
This isn’t Some Pseudo-Science Fad, Is It?
Far from it!
It’s the late, great American gynecologist Dr. Arnold Kegel (1894-1981) we have to thank for developing the eponymous wonder workout. He was the first to investigate the link between childbirth, weakened pelvic floor muscles, and symptoms such as urinary incontinence, loss of sensation, and even vaginal prolapse. He maintained that the muscles in the pelvic floor could be exercised and toned just like any other, and to prove his point invented the not so humble perineometer to measure its strength. After practicing the doctor’s recommended squeeze and release routine for two to four weeks, patients showed measurable improvement in pelvic floor muscle strength, and a palpable improvement in their symptoms.
Kegel’s namesake, non-surgical treatment has been at the frontline of intimate health ever since – and for good reason!
A Wee Word on Incontinence…
In particular, for women of all ages Kegel exercises are an effective treatment – not to mention preventative measure – for adult incontinence. The fact is, bladder control can be an issue for women young and old for a number of reasons. Pregnancy, for example, puts a baby-shaped strain on the pelvic floor muscles; and childbirth can stretch them out of shape.
Later on in the run-up to menopause, lower levels of estrogen results in a decline in vaginal tissue tone, directly affecting – you guessed it – the pelvic floor muscles. Even certain medications and weight gain can lead to little leaks. In other words, incontinence could potentially blight the lives of pretty much any woman. But by getting into a Kegel routine young, much of the above can be avoided. Already experiencing bladder control issues? Kegel’s can help. Whatever your age, ladies, make Kegels your friend.
More Intense Orgasms!
Are you a lady who likes sex? Then you’ll love Kegels! The muscles they strengthen are the very same that that contract so pleasurably during orgasm. Toning them enhances those sensations, and makes climax faster. An added bonus: because exercising anything makes muscles firmer, these are benefits your partner will also enjoy. Win win. It goes without saying that great sex is something to relish at any age; if you’re not already on the Kegels bandwagon, now’s a great time to get started!
Childbirth, Vaginas, Menopause – Are Kegels Only for Women?
Nope – men have pelvic floor muscles too, y’know. And while the benefits of Kegel exercises for guys don’t get nearly as much airtime as those for women, that’s not to say there are none. On the contrary, because the muscle group supports the bladder and bowel, giving them a regular workout can help alleviate incontinence. That can be a particular problem for men who have undergone prostate surgery, with regular Kegel exercising playing an important part in regaining bladder control.
As for women, starting them now can greatly mitigate the odds of experiencing incontinence in the future. They can also help boost erectile function and sexual stamina making for a better, healthier sex life. In other words, time to get cracking – or should we say, squeezing – chaps.
OK I’m Sold! But How Do I Get Started?
Easy: women can find their pelvic floor muscles set by inserting a clean finger into her vagina. Tighten muscles around said digit, and hey presto: you’ve identified ‘em. Another way is stop peeing mid-flow. Feel that? They’re the muscles you need to squeeze for a toned pelvic floor. The latter method is for learning purposes only, mind you – don’t make it a regular thing.
Alternatively, and for a comprehensive Kegel workout with measurable results, you can try the LELO Smart Bead: worn internally, it’s essentially a personal trainer for your pelvic floor muscles. Subtle vibrations are physical cues to tense and release, and the device also registers and tracks progress. Clever stuff!
For men, gently inserting a clean finger into the rectum and squeezing – tensing abdomen, buttocks or thighs is cheating – is a useful trick for locating the muscles you’re looking to target. Alternatively, stopping urinating mid-flow will also help you understand what’s going on where, but is not recommended long-term.
Once you’ve correctly identified your pelvic floor muscles it time to get started: tense for five seconds, relax for five, and repeat. Aim for three ‘workouts’ a day, at five reps a time. You’ll soon be able to hold for longer (try for up to ten seconds) and feel stronger.
When it comes to starting Kegel exercises, there really is no time like the present! Whatever your age, gender or overall fitness, working those pelvic floor muscles is a great step towards tiptop intimate health.
For Lea, what once was “a European summer abroad” turned into traveling the world and studying sexual cultural differences for the past 6 years. She has a PhD in Gender & Sexuality and has a theory that dating guys in their twenties is an unpaid internship. She’s currently writing from a cafe in New Zealand.