You may have heard about Kegel exercises through a women's health magazine or your talkative friend who boasted how they improved her sex life. But, what exactly are these mystery muscle movements?
Learning how to do Kegel exercises is helpful for your health, ranging from improving bladder function to heating up what goes down in your bedroom.
Keep reading to find out what Kegel exercises are, the medical benefits of Kegel exercises, how they spice things up sexually for women and men, how to do Kegel exercises and other pelvic workouts, general tips, and who should avoid doing Kegel exercises.
What Are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises are workouts for your pelvic muscles.
The connected muscles and tissues in your pelvic floor are responsible for holding your reproductive system, controlling bladder and bowel functions and contributing to sexual performance and intensity.
When performing a Kegel exercise, you clench and relax these muscles to make the pelvic floor stronger. This can be done simply using your body or with the aid of a tool like a vibrator or Kegel egg.
Medical Benefits of Kegel Exercises
Medically, Kegel exercises help to reduce urinary incontinence, which is the loss of bladder control.
By performing Kegel exercises, your pelvic muscles become stronger and controlling urine flow and unwanted leakage becomes easier.
After all, your pelvic floor operates like a sling for your reproductive organs. When your pelvic floor is weak, your reproductive organs hang lower than they should and cause discomfort and urinary incontinence.
Urinary incontinence occurs due to age, weight gain and pregnancy. In addition, it's a common side effect of gynecological and prostate surgery and issues like chronic coughing, affecting women and men equally.
On the other hand, Kegel exercises are also used to improve sexual performance. Keep reading to learn how these muscle motions spice things up in the bedroom for women and men.
Why Are Kegel Exercises Good For Women Sexually?
While the medical benefits are useful, many women want the nitty gritty details about how Kegel exercises can improve their sex life. Here's the good news.
These clench-and-release exercises boost orgasm intensity and heighten climaxes by increasing blood flow between reproductive organs. This also improves decreased or absent arousal.
With strengthened pelvic muscles, women have more control over how how hard they squeeze and pulse during sex. This also means gaining more control over orgasms and sexual pleasure.
In addition to your orgasms packing more of a punch, Kegel exercises help women relax their vaginas. This helps reduce pain symptoms associated with sex or visits to the gynecologist.
Finally, the pelvic floor muscle movements can help you increase lubrication and combat dryness issues during masturbation or sex.
Other research suggests they can also reduce vaginal flatulence or "queefing."
Why Are Kegel Exercises Good for Men Sexually?
Kegel exercises get a bad rap for being a female exercise. However, they also work as men's secret weapon to build confidence and boost performance in the bedroom.
After all, Kegel exercises help men get rid of issues that may be embarrassing to deal with when they are trying to get intimate.
The muscle-clenching moves avoid awkward situations by effectively combating erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Thus, they help men perform at their full potential and feel secure.
Since the Kegel exercise muscle movements increase blood flow, inevitably this helps men stay harder during sex and increases their sexual pleasure.
Moreover, men who do Kegel exercises can often experience multiple orgasms during a sexual session.
How To Do Kegel Exercises?
Now that you know why they are so helpful, let's get down to how to do Kegel exercises. Following the five easy steps below will help you complete the exercise correctly.
Step 1: Locate the muscles of your pelvic floor
Since your pelvic muscles aren't easily noticeable like the ones in your arms or legs, pinpointing their internal location may seem somewhat difficult.
However, a trip to the bathroom can help you locate where they are. The easiest way to feel your pelvic muscles is to stop yourself while urinating midstream. When you do this action, you squeeze your pelvic muscles to hold back urine flow.
While this is useful to learn your pelvic anatomy, stopping your urine regularly is not a good habit and can lead to urinary tract infections and kidney damage.
It's best to use this method only once to identify the correct muscles to use and find alternate ways to perform Kegel exercises moving forward.
You can also locate your pelvic muscles by lying down and squeezing that area. However, be careful when using this method because it is also easy to mistake your pelvic muscles for muscles in your buttocks, abdomen or legs.
To zone in on where your pelvic muscles are while lying down, women can insert a finger into their vagina and squeeze.
On the other hand, men can insert a finger into their rectum to locate the correct spot. Similar to stopping urine, when you stop yourself from passing gas, you are actually using your pelvic muscles.
Step 2: Empty your bladder before beginning Kegel exercises
Next, it's important to start your Kegel exercises with an empty bladder. To properly move your pelvic muscles, you should avoid a full bladder adding pressure in the wrong areas.
Too much pressure can strain muscles and target the wrong areas, making the strengthening practice less effective for your pelvic region.
It's best to take a trip to the bathroom and get everything out beforehand.
Step 3: Clench and release
Once you identify your pelvic muscles, you can begin Kegel exercises. When you are first learning, it's easiest to perform Kegel exercises lying down.
When simply using your body to do the exercises, women can insert a finger into their vagina, while men can insert a finger into their rectum for added resistance. However, this step is not necessary and you can still properly move your muscles without insertion.
Next, choose between short or long contractions. Short contractions work to improve fast-twitch pelvic muscles, which reduce urine leaks, while long contractions are good for slow-twitch muscles, which provide long-term pelvic strength.
With short contractions, contract your pelvic muscles hard and quick and then release. Continue the exercise for 10 to 15 repetitions.
For long contractions, start by clenching your pelvic muscles for three to five seconds and then release. Relax for three to five seconds before starting the next repetition and continue the exercise for 10 repetitions. Over time, you can build up to holding the contraction and relaxation periods for 10 seconds.
You may be questioning, how do I know if I'm doing Kegel exercises correctly?
When you successfully isolate your pelvic muscles you should feel a lifting sensation moving up and in, from back to front. While women should feel tightening, men should also observe their penis and scrotum raising.
Step 4: Keep your other muscles relaxed
Step four goes hand in hand with identifying the correct muscles. It does no good to identify where your pelvic muscles are if you aren't properly isolating them during your workout.
It's important to relax the muscles in your abdomen, buttocks and thighs so the training focuses on strengthening your pelvic muscles.
Squeezing everything during the exercise can actually cause the opposite of your desired effects, worsening issues like erectile dysfunction.
Step 5: Repeat the exercises two to three times a day
For the best results, you should practice Kegel exercises two to three times a day with 10 to 15 repetitions in each set. Short and long contractions can also be combined in a session for a fuller workout.
Like with any exercise, if you don't practice enough, you won't build muscle strength or endurance. However, if you head to the gym too much, you also have a higher risk of overexertion and injury.
Tools That Aid Kegel Exercises And Add Resistance
In addition to using your body to perform Kegel exercises, certain sex toys and Kegel exercisers add resistance and offer quicker results. Typically, women use these tools to improve their pelvic functions.
First, you can use a Kegel egg. Yoni Eggs (link to Yoni Eggs) uses materials like Jade, Rose Quartz and Black Obsidian to naturally revamp your sex drive and recharge your spiritual batteries, clearing your mind.
Essentially, using Kegel eggs and the other tools coming up on the list, is like participating in a weighted workout.
In addition to simply clenching your pelvic muscles, inserting an egg requires that you hold its weight in place, intensifying your workout and raising the benefits.
However, it's important to keep in mind that with any insertable option, you should limit the time it spends inside you.
Similar to the need to regularly change tampons, experts warn leaving an egg inside of you for hours causes damage. Eggs must also be changed regularly because they are porous and hard to clean.
Vibrator or Kegel Exerciser
Next, Kegel exercises can also be performed using a vibrator. The Elvie Trainer (link to Elvie Trainer) has an award-winning design for Kegel exercises. The insertable vibrator syncs up to your smartphone app to provide numerous workouts and beneficial improvement tracking options.
Using a vibrator for Kegel exercises replicates treatments you'd receive in your doctor's office that deal with biofeedback.
Furthermore, biofeedback offers direct physical results. This makes your pelvic strength more quantifiable rather than relaying the sensations verbally.
Vibrators designed for Kegel exercises use their vibrations to measure bladder pressure, rectal pressure, abdominal pressure and sphincter activity.
This not only specifies your problem areas but also shows which areas are showing the most or quickest improvement.
Finally, beads aid Kegel exercises. LELO LUNA Beads (link to LELO LUNA Beads) offer two insertable weighted options to build resistance training over time. They also have a mini option for beginners or women who need a more sensitive workout.
With different weight options, beads provide the added benefit of giving you a goal to work towards over time. This ensures you don't start out with an overly heavy bead but lets you get there when you're ready.
Other Workouts To Strengthen Pelvic Muscles
In addition to the Kegel exercises above, other physical exercises can also help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These include holding positions like a bridge or squat.
To hold a bridge position, lie on your back. Raising your abdomen to the sky, lift up on to your arms and legs. Your body should form a position that resembles a bridge, with your face pointing downward.
To hold a squat position, stand up straight and extend your arms at shoulder-length in front of you. Bend your knees and lower your body, simulating the position you would be in while sitting in a chair. Slowly raise back to a standing position and repeat the motions.
In addition to learning the steps above, it's important to keep the following five general tips in mind when performing Kegel exercises.
Tip 1: Be patient
While Kegel exercises are helpful, they don't cause overnight results. Stay patient with the process. They can take a few weeks to a few months to start showing effects.
Tip 2: Stop if you're in pain
The goal should be to improve your sexual health, not harm it. If you start to feel pain or discomfort in your abdomen or pelvic region while doing Kegel exercises, stop immediately.
Tip #3: Don't hold your breath
Kegel exercises may seem different than other workouts because they deal with your private parts. However, working out your pelvic muscles should be treated like any other workout. This means, checking while you clench and stretch to make sure you aren't tightening awkwardly and holding your breath.
Tip 4: Relax completely between sets
Improving your pelvic muscles relies on the relaxing periods just as much as it uses the strengthening movements.
For this reason, it's important not to ignore the relax step when clenching and releasing. Let your pelvic muscles feel the burn with focused movements.
Tip 5: For specific issues, target specific areas
When you're doing Kegel exercises to fix urinary incontinence or other bladder issues, often you will experience urine leakage that is worse in certain positions, like standing or sitting.
If this is the case, practice Kegel exercises in these positions to strengthen pelvic muscle support.
Who Shouldn't Do Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises work best for women and men with urinary incontinence and other mild to moderate bladder or pelvic problems or for those who are sexually active and looking to better performance and sensation.
While the exercise is something pretty much anyone can do, it is not effective for all.
If you have more serious pelvic problems, Kegel exercises may prove ineffective or can make things worse. It is always best to consult your doctor before trying out this treatment option.
Moreover, if a doctor determines you have urinary incontinence resulting from your pelvic floor being too tight instead of too loose, Kegel exercises will cause more harm than good.
Similar to the muscle cramps in your arms or legs that you experience in the gym, overexerting pelvic floor muscles that are already too tight will cause strain and pain.
Kegel exercises are useful for both men and women combating urinary incontinence and other bladder problems. In addition, they can help improve your sex life, providing more pleasure and stamina.
However, it is best to consult a doctor before trying out new exercises to properly analyze your pelvic floor.
If your doctor gives the green light, the most important thing to do is be patient with the process and your body's responses. Listen to its needs to avoid injury. While you won't see results overnight, over time Kegel exercises will build your pelvic strength.
Whether you are using the exercises to fight urinary incontinence and bladder issues or to enhance sexual pleasure and performance, consistency is key to achieving the best results.