Kegel Exercises

Posted by Anna Bergeron on

Kegel exercises are something doctors recommend we should all be doing, every single day. Despite this somewhat universal advice though, some people have never even heard of them!

Even worse is that even if you know what they are, it can be quite hard to do a Kegel!

So let’s explore exactly what Kegel exercises are, and how you’re supposed to do them.

What Are Kegel Exercises?

Kegel exercises were invented by Arnold Kegel in the 1940s. They were developed as a non-surgical solution to pelvic floor dysfunction.

Due to the success of those who performed Kegel exercises, they have become recognised by doctors around the world, and are recommended to all patients, whether suffering pelvic floor problems or not.

The idea of the Kegel is to simply contract and squeeze the pelvic floor muscles, usually for around ten seconds, then release and relax the muscles, again for around ten seconds.

By regularly performing sets of these exercises. Men and women can maintain the health of their pelvic floor muscles, and improve or even cure many different health problems in the lower half of the body.

How To Do Kegel Exercises

While the idea of clenching some muscles sounds easy, many people have difficulty performing Kegel exercises. This is due to the location of the pelvic floor muscles.

These muscles form a hammock around the bottom of your body, which most of the time you never really even notice. As these muscles are mostly ignored, it’s often difficult to even figure out which ones they are, let alone how to clench them.

The easiest way to recognise your pelvic floor muscles is to go to the bathroom.

For the front half of the pelvic floor, pay attention to your body while urinating. Some people will be able to “push” their pee out, usually a little faster or harder than normal. The muscles used here are the front part of the pelvic floor.

If this doesn’t work for you, you can also try stopping your pee mid stream. You shouldn’t do this often as it can cause damage to the muscles, but you should very clearly be able to feel which muscles are clenching to stop the stream.

For the rear half of the pelvic floor, a similar process applies. When having a bowel movement, you’ll often feel yourself “pushing” it out. The muscles used here are the rear half of the pelvic floor.

Similarly, if you need to have a bowel movement but aren’t able to go to the bathroom right now, you’ll usually need to hold it in for a little while. The muscles you feel doing this are again, the back half of the pelvic floor muscles.

Once you’ve identified the correct muscles, you need to practise moving them in isolation. When you can do this, you can clench the entire pelvic floor and start doing your first Kegel exercises!

Male Kegel Exercises

Just because the majority of discussion about Kegel exercises and tools usually revolves around the vagina, it doesn’t mean that they’re only for women! Men can stand to gain just as much from them!

When a man’s pelvic floor becomes dysfunctional, he can suffer a variety of effects including weaker erections, premature ejaculation, or even less satisfying orgasms.

Luckily the process of identifying and exercising your pelvic floor muscles is exactly the same for men as women.

How Often Should You Do Kegel Exercises?

After figuring out how to do Kegel exercises, the next question most people will have is when they should be doing them.

Most doctors advise that everyone do Kegel exercises in sets of ten, three times a day.

If you’re suffering from any pelvic floor conditions, your doctor may give different advice. You should always follow their advice over any given online.

Some people may suffer from different conditions which require less or more intense Kegel exercises, or even reverse Kegels. This is where rather than clenching and pulling the pelvic floor up and in, you push it downwards to try and release the built up tension.

Why Should You Do Kegel Exercises?

While it’s all well and good knowing what they are and how to do them, most people who are unfamiliar with Kegel exercises will be wondering why they need to be doing these exercises at all.

Well there’s a good reason doctors tell everyone to do them, because Kegels carry a whole host of benefits including:

  • Improved Sex Life: Thanks to an overall improvement in the strength of the entire pelvic region, people who do Kegels will usually enjoy a much better sex life.
  • Incontinence Improvements: Anyone who suffers any kind of incontinence can see a drastic decrease in their symptoms or even complete cure of their condition by doing Kegels. People who don’t suffer can reduce the risk they will develop problems.
  • Better Pregnancy: The entire process of pregnancy and childbirth can severely damage the pelvic floor muscles. Performing Kegels during and after pregnancy can make the process of childbirth much easier and less painful, and speed up recovery after childbirth.
  • Increased Blood Flow In and Around the Genitals: As you exercise the muscles, you force the body to draw in fresh blood to the genital area. This can provide many benefits such as increased recovery from injury, less muscle damage during menopause, and even increased genital sensitivity.
  • Overall Increased Health: The pelvic floor muscles form an integral part of the body’s core. By strengthening it with Kegels, you can feel improvements in surrounding areas such as the lower back. You’ll also be enjoying the many other benefits, so will feel an overall improvement to your health.

That’s already a lot of benefits, but there’s just too many to talk about! If you want to learn more about the other benefits of Kegel exercises then check out our article here.

What To Do If You Have Trouble Doing Kegel Exercises?

You might find that once you start trying to do these exercises, it’s difficult to identify and move the correct muscles. Or you might think you’ve been doing everything right, but aren’t noticing any improvement.

Don’t worry! Despite their simple nature, some people can really struggle to do Kegel exercises properly.

If you find this applies to you, then you should consult your doctor. They will be able to guide you through the process and teach you how to do the exercise.

In some cases, they may discover an underlying problem which is preventing you from doing Kegels correctly. When this happens, they will usually do more in depth treatment with you such as electro-stimulation therapy.

Another option is to try a Kegel training device which gives you feedback on your exercise. These are usually paired with a mobile phone app, and use pressure sensors to monitor your muscles while you perform Kegels.

With this information, they can help you improve your technique. Some versions even make a game out of your Kegel training to make everything more fun!

How Long Will It Take Kegels To Work?

For most people, it will take between several weeks and several months to start seeing noticeable improvements thanks to Kegel exercises.

Knowing what improvements you are likely to see can make it easier to see your progress, but ultimately it’s a process that takes time.

You also need to keep doing the exercise consistently. Any gaps or breaks can reverse your progress, making it seem like you never see any improvement.

This is why it’s so important to make Kegel exercises part of your daily routine. You can do them almost anywhere, so there’s no excuse not to fit it into your schedule!

Are Kegel Exercises Safe?

Whenever you read about some kind of miracle exercise that can give your body all kinds of health benefits, a common concern can be whether or not it’s safe.

Luckily, these exercises have been scientifically studied over the years, and all findings have been positive. For the vast majority of people Kegel exercises are completely safe, and as long as you don’t do them too often, nothing bad will happen.

It is possible to overwork your pelvic floor, causing it to become exhausted. This may be painful and restrict your movement, but like all muscles they will return to normal with some rest. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and you’ll be fine.

The only other time Kegel exercises may be harmful is if you have an already existing medical condition which will be made worse by the exercises. If you are in this situation, your doctor will be able to make you aware whether you should do them or not.

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