Kegel exercises (sometimes called pelvic floor exercises) strengthen muscles in the bladder, bowel, and uterus. They can be done by both men and women.
For women, they can be helpful after pregnancy and childbirth, following gynecologic surgery, or simply to address the loss of muscle tone with age. Not only do Kegels help reduce urine leakage, but they also relax the vagina, making sex more comfortable. They may also improve vaginal lubrication, increase blood flow to the genitals, enhance sexual arousal, and make it easier to reach orgasm.
How to Do Kegels Correctly
To get the benefits of Kegels, you must do them correctly. Kegels involve the tightening and relaxing of certain muscles in the pelvic floor. To find those muscles, the next time you have to urinate, start to go and then stop. You should feel the muscles in your vagina, bladder, or anus tighten.
Note that it’s not the muscles of your abdomen, buttocks, or thighs that you need to tighten. You may have to try this start-stop exercise a few times to “find” the right muscles. However, you shouldn’t make a habit of starting and stopping your urine flow, as this can cause incomplete emptying of the bladder and increase your risk of a urinary tract infection. Once you’ve identified the muscles to focus on, do your Kegels any time that you aren’t urinating.
Also, be aware that some women have trouble isolating the right muscles even with practice. That’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Your doctor can talk with you about ways to improve your Kegel technique using biofeedback or a vaginal weighted cone that you learn to hold in place.
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Important Notes on Kegel Exercises
Keep these points in mind as you begin doing Kegel exercises:
- Contract your pelvic floor muscles for 3 to 5 seconds, then relax them for 3 to 5 seconds
- Repeat this cycle 10 times per session
- Try to do 30 to 40 Kegel exercises every day
- Keep other muscles — buttocks, legs, abdomen, etc. — relaxed
- Occasionally add what are sometimes called “quick flicks” (shorter, 2-second contractions) to your regimen
- You’ll likely see results like less urine leakage in a few weeks to a few months
- Even after getting results, you should continue to do Kegel exercises every day
Enjoy Better Pelvic Floor Strength, Less Urine Leakage, and Better Sex
It takes time to establish a new habit. But if you stick to your Kegel exercise routine, it can become second nature. When it does, you’ll enjoy a stronger pelvic floor, less urine leakage, and possibly a more satisfying sex life.
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