If there’s one exercise that women of all ages should perform, it is definitely Kegel exercises. Not just women, men can also benefit from doing these exercises.
Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, consist of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles to make them stronger. Among other functions, these muscles are key to controlling the flow of urination and play a role in sexual responsiveness during intercourse.
Overtime, many factors can weaken your pelvic floor muscles. Some of these factors include pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight.
Strengthening the muscles of your pelvic floor will benefit you in many ways.
How to do Kegel exercises
Irrespective of your age, you can always start doing Kegel exercises and it will help you when done correctly.
The exercises are easy to do and can be done anywhere without anyone knowing. You can do it discreetly just about any time – while sitting at your desk, waiting at a red light or relaxing on the couch.
To do the Kegel exercises:
- While you can do this anywhere, if you’re at home, find a quiet, private place to sit or lay down.
- Locate your Kegel muscles. They are the muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine when urinating.
- Once you have located the muscles, contract these muscles for 5 seconds, while breathing normally.
- Then, relax for 5 seconds and repeat again. Your stomach, back, sides, and thigh muscles should not tighten when you do this.
- Repeat 10 to 20 times per session.
- Do this at least 3 times a day.
To begin to feel the effects, you’ll need to perform the exercises regularly for a few months – several times a day for several minutes at a time.
Here are some of the benefits of doing Kegel exercises regularly.
1. Provide Support to Several Organs
These exercises target your pelvic floor muscles to keep them strong and healthy. Strong pelvic muscles are very important, as they help hold everything down there in place, such as the bladder, small intestine, rectum and even the uterus.
In fact, these muscles serve as a sort of hammock for those organs.
Doing Kegel exercises regularly keeps the internal organs all in place and also ensures that the organs are working the way that they are supposed to.
Strong pelvic floor muscles also support your spine for a better posture, reduce pain and help prevent injury.
2. Prevent or Control Urinary Incontinence
Exercising your pelvic floor muscles helps treat as well as prevent urinary incontinence, which is involuntary leakage of urine or loss of bladder control. This causes accidents and wetting oneself.
As the exercises strengthen the pelvic muscles, it helps improve bladder control and reduces urine leakage in both men and women. In fact, doing the exercise after urination can help stop that dribble after urination. It is also beneficial for reducing stress incontinence.
A 2014 study published in Advances in Nursing reports that Kegel exercises may help women manage the problem of stress urinary incontinence. However, further research is still needed.
A 2015 study published in Global Journal of Health Science found that pelvic muscle exercises were an empowerment mechanism for incontinent women in improving their quality of life and self-esteem. The study recommended these exercises for the elderly who are suffering from urinary incontinence.
3. Facilitate Normal Vaginal Delivery
Doing Kegel exercises throughout pregnancy can prepare your body for a normal delivery.
The exercises strengthen the muscles that support your bladder, vagina and back passage. Strong pelvic muscles reduce the amount women have to strain during labor. Also, the labor time will be shorter and there will be less tearing of the birth canal.
In addition, it improves the blood circulation around the vaginal and anal area, which is also important for smooth and strain-free delivery and perineal healing after childbirth.
Kegel exercises not only ensure a smooth delivery, they also aid in quick recovery after birth. They help you regain your vaginal tightness and also prevent urinary incontinence.
4. Restore Erectile Function
Doing Kegels can also help improve erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation in men by restoring erectile function. It helps support the bulbocavernosus muscle, which is one of the pelvic floor muscles, allowing the penis to engorge with blood during erection, thus helping in ejaculation. The bulbocavernosus muscle is usually one the first pelvic floor muscles to weaken.
A 2004 study published in The British Journal of General Practice also reports that pelvic floor muscle exercises and biofeedback can help treat erectile dysfunction in men.
Moreover, as the exercise involves contracting as well as relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, it will also benefit erectile dysfunction caused by over-tightening of the muscles, whether due to stress or heavy athletic training. In addition, it increases blood flow to the penis.
5. Ease Prostate Problems
Kegel exercises help overcome prostate problems in men by improving the health of the prostate gland. They also prevent prostate-related diseases that can develop due to malfunctioning of the prostate.
It has been found that by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, it becomes easier to reduce the discomforts of an enlarged prostate.
In fact, men who undergo surgical removal of the prostate gland are highly recommended to do Kegel exercises to strengthen the back muscles of the pelvic floor as well as reducing the side effects of surgery.
6. Improve Sex Health
Doing Kegel exercises also helps relax the vaginal muscles, increase vaginal lubrication, and improve a woman’s ability to reach orgasm.
In addition it improves blood circulation to the vagina.
A 2015 study published in the Iranian Journal of Nursing and Midwifery Research reports that eight weeks of doing pelvic muscle exercises increases the sexual self-efficacy in women after giving birth for the first time.
7. Ease Menopausal Symptoms
Doing Kegel exercises on a regular basis helps prepare a woman’s body for menopause. Menopause can cause the pelvic floor to weaken, since estrogen is needed to maintain its health.
But by doing these exercises, you can maintain the strength of your pelvic floor muscles as well as regain vaginal tightness.
They can also help ease menopausal symptoms, such as vaginal dryness, vaginal loosening and a decrease in sex drive.
- Make sure your bladder is empty before you do the exercises.
- Never practice Kegel exercises during urination because it can actually weaken the muscles over time. Also, it can increase your chance of a urinary tract infection.
- Try not to move your leg, buttocks or abdominal muscles during the exercises.
- If you experience pain in the abdomen, back, or vaginal area, it means you are doing not doing the exercise correctly.