This is a detailed introductory article about Kegel exercises. I'll talk about all the basics you need to know about Kegel exercises. At the end of this article, I'll recommend some Kegel tools I personally used and found effective.
The aim of this article is to 1) equip you with all the necessary knowledge about Kegel, 2) make sure you won't harm yourself due to incorrect practice, 3) understand what kind of products suit your body the best and not get fooled by the fancy advertisements in the mass market 4) and know how to use Kegel balls for both exercises and sex play.
Ready to dive in? Let's go! 🙂
WHAT’S KEGEL EXERCISES?
Kegel exercise is a workout that is done by contracting and loosening up the pelvic floor muscles repeatedly. That’s why it is also called “pelvic floor exercise”.
This exercise is designed to enhance the strength of the muscles in and around the pelvic floor, which plays a significant role in improving womb, bladder, and bowels’ functions.
It’s recommended to practice this exercise a few minutes per day and the effect can begin to show in around 2-3 months.
You can practice the Kegel exercise with or without any tools. I personally found some Kegel balls can make the exercising process easier and less boring. Because Kegel balls "talk" to my vagina during the exercises and my vagina likes to get some instant feedback.
But as said, it's NOT mandatory to start the exercise with Kegel balls or any other tools.
6 BENEFITS OF KEGEL FOR WOMEN
1. Enhancing a Pleasurable Sexual Experience
The breathtaking waves of pleasure felt during an orgasm are actually thanks to the contractions of the pelvic floor muscles. Well-toned muscles will deliver more intense contractions that multiply the orgasmic sensation experienced during a climax.
That's why the clenching and loosening movement from Kegel exercise can help you gain better and stronger orgasm.
Besides, exercising these pelvic floor muscles also has the added advantage of enhancing your ability to clench the vaginal walls, delivering more sexual excitement for you and your partner.
After 2-3 months of Kegel exercising, you and your partner can really feel the result during penetrative sex.
2. The Solution for Urinary Stress Incontinence
Urinary Stress Incontinence is a condition where women experience the unintended passage of urine when carrying out physical activities such as lifting objects, or light activities as laughing, sneezing or coughing.
This happens more to women than to men. Actually, 75%-80% of the people who have urinary incontinence are female.
It is even more common in women who have recently undergone childbirth, being more prevalent in cases of normal vaginal delivery. This is due to the weakening of the pelvic floor muscles during pregnancy.
Other reasons for urinary stress incontinence can be medical procedures such as undergoing a hysterectomy.
Kegel exercises can help gradually strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and improve their capacity to support the bladder in holding in its contents.
This is not just for saving embarrassment, it's more about long-term urinary health. And the symptom is more treatable by practicing Kegel exercises before 40 years old.
3. Preventing and Treating Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Pelvic floor muscles are the support system for organs in the pelvic region including the bowel, womb, vagina and the bladder. Weakening of the muscles can cause the organs to drop down to the vagina and even protrude out of it.
There are various reasons why this may occur, childbearing and aging being the most common.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and can prevent this eventuality. In cases of prolapse, the exercises are therapy for treatment.
Even if you don't notice any prolapse at this moment, it's still good to regularly practice some Kegel exercises as it can prevent and delay pelvic organ prolapse.
4. Improved Quality of Life During and After Menopause
The apparent consequence of aging is the general weakening of our muscles. For women experiencing menopause, hormonal changes, especially reducing estrogen levels cause loss of muscle tone.
Pelvic floor muscles weaken with aging and this can cause urinary and bowel incontinence, as well as pelvic organ prolapse.
Kegel exercises keep the pelvic floor muscles strengthened and help to ward off these unpleasant and draining conditions.
Have you wondered why some women can have an enjoyable sex life until 70 years old?
This relates a lot to the status of the pelvic floor. Healthy, well-toned pelvic floor muscles mean you can go on enjoying sexual intimacy well into menopause.
5. Relaxation, Improved Confidence, and General Well Being
A slight malfunction in the reproductive system can wreck havoc on a woman’s general well being.
The pelvic floor can be considered as the support structure for the reproductive organs as well as the bowels and bladder. These vital body organs directly impact our daily activities and the quality of life.
Kegel exercises help to relieve pelvic muscle tension that may have resulted from injury or emotional stress. This greatly improves our gait and boosts our confidence levels.
Besides, Kegel exercises have been recommended as a therapy for Vaginismus, the painful contractions of the vagina make a woman dread any penetration.
6. Assisting Pregnancy Process
The Pelvic Floor supports the womb during pregnancy, as well as the birth canal during childbearing.
Childbirth takes a heavy toll on our physical well being, and prolonged recovery can impact negatively on our ability to handle other motherhood tasks and the emotional well being.
Practicing Kegel exercises before and safely during the pregnancy can be a key factor on how soon we recover from the effects of childbirth.
HOW TO LOCATE THE PELVIC FLOOR?
The pelvic floor can be described as the platform that supports our reproductive organs, the bowel, and the bladder. It is essentially a bundle of muscles shaped like a hammock that is strung between the pubic bone and the tail bone.
The Pelvic Floor supports the womb during pregnancy, as well as the birth canal during childbearing. It also holds the bowel, the bladder, and the urethra and controls the opening of the anus.
There are three good techniques for locating the pelvic floor muscles in women.
1. Pelvic muscles are the muscles that you squeeze when trying to hold and avoid passing wind in public. It is important to note the difference in this action and the contraction of the buttocks. Many women fail to spot the correct muscles to exercise.
2. A more exact way to locate the pelvic floor muscles is when taking a short call in the bathroom. By holding the urine midway into the urination, you apply the pelvic muscles. This action can be applied to locate and sense which muscles to exercise. However, this exercise should not be repeated as it can cause problems of emptying the bladder and urinary tract infections.
3. For some women, they can locate the muscles by lying down and inserting a finger into the vagina. By contracting the vagina walls to clench your finger you can sense and identify the pelvic floor muscles. In case one finger does not do the trick you can insert two fingers.
WHAT ARE KEGEL BALLS?
As mentioned before, you can exercise your pelvic muscles with or without any tools, but I personally do recommend using Kegel balls to assist the exercise.
The concept of Kegel balls, also known as Ben Wa balls, have existed for centuries (Arguably, Ben was balls are the world’s oldest sex toy). Only in recent years, people start to give attention to these small balls.
Kegel balls are useful for exercising the pelvic floor muscles. They not only assist by helping to target the actual area of exercise but also provide a means of tracking progress. They can also add a bit of fun and ease for the pelvic floor exercise routine.
Kegel balls come in different weights, a good package should have balls of various weights through which you can progress as you build your muscle strength. The balls can also have a mechanism for attaching the string to combine two balls.
For beginners, the right way of exercising is more important than weight because wrong ways of lifting can negatively influence your vaginal muscles.
The hygienic aspects of cleaning and storing the balls should be well indicated on the packaging. For most, they will recommend the kind of soap and cleaning procedure. It is important to follow these instructions to keep the balls from becoming a source of infections.
WHO SHOULD NOT DO KEGEL EXERCISES?
Kegel exercises are NOT FOR EVERYONE! Please make sure you don’t have the following symptoms.
DON’T kegel if you experience any pain there’s a vaginal insertion, such as doing smear test, inserting a tampon, or having vaginal intercourse. The pain comes from stressed pelvic floor muscles and Kegel will tighten your pelvic muscles even more. People who suffer from this issue can have difficulty relaxing the pelvic floor and have voluntary or involuntary contractile activity.
DON’T kegel if you have overactive pelvic floor muscles, which can be caused by trauma, injury, infection, pelvic surgery, etc.
DON’T kegel if you are experiencing any urethral, vaginal, rectal, or lower abdominal pain
DON’T kegel if you are suffering from constipation or have any strain during bowel movements.
DON’T kegel if you have urinary retention or have any difficulty empty the bladder completely.
HOW TO USE KEGEL BALLS TO EXERCISE CORRECTLY?
Once you have your Kegel balls, you can now proceed to inserting them and enjoying exercising your pelvic muscles. Get a comfortable position for yourself.
You might have seen videos about women doing Kegel exercise while doing other things in public. This can be your goal, but don’t try it if you are just a beginner. It is not that easy to clench your pelvic muscles to prevent the balls from falling.
The first times, you can lie on your back with your legs spread open as you develop more confidence in the procedure.
1) First, ensure that you use a suitable lube for adequate lubrication. Lubricate the balls generously. (If your kegel balls are made of silicone, make sure only use water-based lube, otherwise, the silicone surface will be damaged)
2) Insert the ball into the vagina; Stop the insertion just as the ball is completely in and let it sit comfortably in the vaginal opening. Ensure the attached string stays outside the vagina entrance.
3) Once properly inserted, close your legs to help keep the balls stay in place as you position yourself for the Kegel exercises.
4) To exercise, do a contracting or tightening action on the ball. This will have an upward sucking motion on the ball.
5) Use the pubococcygeus muscles to hold the ball in that position for 5 seconds and relax the muscles. Repeat this motion of lifting the ball up and relaxing every 5 seconds. You can start by doing 8 sets each time and 2-3 times per day. (Gradually, you can hold for longer seconds each time and do few more sets each time.)
6) It will take some time, but once you master the “clench and loosening” movement, you can go on with your daily routine as you do the exercise.
7) As the muscles gain strength, the balls tend to stay in the elevated position even after easing the squeezing. At this point, you can progress to heavier weights and combining two balls.
8) To remove the balls after your exercise, simply pulling the string. Yes, I always recommend getting the Kegel balls that come with a string. It’s hygienically not nice sweeping finger into the vagina to reach for the balls every time.
During the exercise, you must make sure that the muscles in your back, abdomen, and buttocks should stay relaxed during the exercise.
But how do you know you are doing the exercise correctly? When Kegeling, touch the area between the vagina hole and the anus with your fingers. If you are doing the movement correctly, you will feel that your fingers lift slightly inwards, instead down or outwards, as you contracting the pelvic muscles.
CAUTIONS: After an exercising session, if you experience pain in your lower back or in your abdomen, it means you are not doing the exercise correctly. You must stop if noticing the pain! Also, make sure not overdo the Kegel exercise. If overworked, your pelvic muscles will be tired and fail to manage their necessary functions.
HOW FAST WILL KEGEL EXERCISES WORK?
First of all, you must be committed to doing the exercises regularly in order to see any real difference. Yes, persistence is the king! After doing the exercises for 2-3 months, you will start to feel the results.
The results can reflect in everyone life. For example, you will stop having leaking drops downstairs when sneezing, your partner can feel stronger contraction during penetrative sex, etc.
HOW TO USE KEGEL BALLS DURING SEX?
Originally (around 500 years ago), Ben Wa balls, or so-called “Kegel balls” were created by Chinese to enhance the sensation during sexual intercourse. Nowadays, Kegel balls are mainly used for assisting pelvic exercises, however, it has the potential to be used to spice up sex life.
You can use Kegel balls for some foreplay. To do that, just ask your partner to insert the Kegel balls inside your vagina a few hours before anticipating sexual activities. You can do the insertion yourself as well, but I think it’s sexier to ask my partner to do that ;).
The balls can lead to some natural pelvic movements, which will help increase the arousal.
You can remove the balls before penetrative sex or leave them insides for an increased sensation. The Kegel balls are not designed to give orgasm directly, but it really can tease you quite well. During penetrative sex, it can constantly massaging vaginal walls and irregularly hit the G-spot, which intensifies the stimulation and can lead to a better orgasm later on.
You can also use metal balls for some BDSM play. metal takes and preserves warmth or coldness rather quickly. So, it can be ideal for some temperature play. Depends on your preference, a heated or an ice-cold ball can be either a punishment or a reward.
DO KEGEL EXERCISES TIGHTEN YOUR VAGINA?
To some extent, it does! Kegel exercises don’t tighten your vagina directly, instead, they strengthen your vaginal muscles, which will increase your arousal.
After exercising for 2-3 months, you will also feel a tighter grip during penetrative sex and there will be intensified orgasm during sex because you send more blood downstair with a stronger contraction.
The key is that you must be very committed to exercise regularly. Only the persistence can lead you to see some real difference in the tightness of your vaginal muscles.
EXTRA TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
1. It is important to pick Kegels balls that can be well-cleaned and doesn’t collect bacteria easily. Metal, stone or glass balls are hygienically safe, but they are not beginner friendly to start with.
2. Beginners are suggested to start with small and low-weight balls and gradually move to larger and heavier balls.
3. As a beginner, you are suggested NOT to keep the balls inside of your vagina for hours or an entire day. It can be too overwhelming for your pelvic muscles.
4. Wearing and practice with the balls at the home first. DON’T go out to do daily routines with your Kegel balls unless you feel very comfortable having the balls inside of you.
5. I suggest starting with Kegel balls that have strings. In this way, you can easily pull them out after each use. Once you fully master the exercise, you can freely choose the ones without strings because the balls can easily be pushed down with the pelvic muscles.
6. Depending on the weight you choose, you shall feel the balls move a bit inside your vagina and possibly a bit sliding down. In general, the feeling of the balls inside of your vagina should be very slight.
CHOOSE YOUR BEST FIT and RECOMMENDED PRODUCTS
There are so many options when it comes to choosing Kegel balls. Though they all aim to assist Kegel exercises, they’re each better suited for different goals and experience levels and have different ways to use.
Below are the different types of Kegel devices you can find in the market and I also included my personal product recommendations.
All the products I mention below are from trustworthy companies and I tested each of them myself. They are all very safe to use and easy to keep clean. Depends on your preferences and personal situations, you can choose the type that fits you the most.
1. Kegel Balls With Adjustable Weights
This is the most common type of Kegel balls. Most products you can find come with different weight options. Different vagina suits different weight. Some women can start from 50g while others can only start with 10g of Kegel balls.
You must try for yourself to find out which weight is best for you to start with. It can take sometime before you find your perfect weight, let your vagina try at least 5-8 times before you make your decision.
Most women can start training their pelvic muscles with a 30g ball. That worked for me as well. I personally liked using Lelo Luna Beads and the Shibari Cherry Balls. They both come with multiple beads and I can mix and match different beads to test different weight. Besides, both of them has a decent insertable size.
Of course, you still need to apply a generous amount of water-based lubricant during insertion, but the process was not difficult or painful at all.
Lelo Luna Beads include two 28g / 1oz beads and two 37g / 1.3oz beads. You can use each ball separately or combine multiple balls to have a heavier weight. Besides, the size of each ball is ideal for comfortable insertion and they can be used to progressively increase weight.
This is a budget-friendly set. If you don’t want to invest too much in your first Kegel sets, Lelo Luna Beads can be a good start.
To learn more about the Luna Beads, you can read my detailed review.
Shibari Pleasure Cherry Kegel Balls
Shibari cherry balls is another budget-friendly set and they are the cutest Kegels in the market! The box comes with 5 cherry shaped balls, all in different weights. The balls are made from silicone, which is super smooth against the skin. Besides, the weight range from this set is quite complete for both beginning and intermediate level users.
2. Kegels With Instant App Feedback
There aren’t many high-tech Kegel devices and they tend to be pricey. However, I do think it’s safer to start with trustworthy high-tech Kegel devices such as Elvie Trainer and kGoal. It’s important for women to do Kegels and it’s even more important to do Kegels appropriately.
High-tech devices are designed to connect with an app, which can give you instant feedback about your training process and it can warm you if you workout incorrectly!
If the budget allows, I suggest all beginners start the exercise with the Elvie Trainer. The Elvie Trainer is a device which helps women to perform Kegel exercises and it is, by far, my favorite Kegel device.
It offers a simple yet effective way to practice Kegel exercise and gives instant app-feedback during the exercise.
What’s most important is that this toy can warn you if you do the exercise incorrectly! A false practice can lead to many issues and it will be harder to learn the correct way of “clenching and loosening” once your pelvic muscles get used to the false movement.
So, it’s extremely important to do the exercise correctly from the very beginning. And that is why I highly recommend using the Elvie Trainer.
To learn more about the Elvie Trainer, you can read my detailed review.
When using traditional Kegel balls to exercise, it’s rather boring and hard to keep track of your exercise process. Also, if you plan to exercise for a long run, you will have to purchase Kegel balls in different sizes and weights along the way.
kGoal is an expensive product, but it’s a product that can be used for all levels. It guides you to correctly start your exercise and you won’t need to switch to different tools once you make progress.
The Kgoal app will track all your exercise and increase the level of difficulties for you along the way. You will have personalized workouts routines and instant feedback all the time.
3. Metal, Stone, and Glass Kegel Balls
In general, balls made of metal, stone, and glass are not beginner-friendly and they are more ideal for intermediate to advanced users.
Stainless steel kegel balls have almost lifetime duration and it is very easy to be kept clean. There are many stainless steel options in the market, I like the one from Fifty Shades of Grey because it kinda fulfills my fantasy. The two balls in total are weighted 7.8oz / 221g, which is a lot heavier than the Lelo Luna Beads.
The heavier it gets, the harder it will be to control with your pelvic muscles. Besides, mental balls are harder to control because it’s slipperier and requires even more effort for your pelvic muscles to keep it in.
That’s why you should NOT use the Fifty Shades Kegel balls if you are a beginner.
4. Vibrating Kegel Balls
I really like Kegel balls that can vibrate. In this way, I can use it as an aid for Kegel exercising and as a sex toy. More importantly, vibrations inside of vaginal walls can really make your vagina feel more relaxed, which means you will be more ready for Kegel exercises.
My vagina always feels a bit stressed when something wants to come in, no matter it’s a tampon, a Kegel or a penis. There are two ways to make me feel more relaxed and easy the insertion process: adding lubrication and add vibration.
That’s why I prefer to relax my vagina with some vibration before doing Kegel exercises.
We-vibe Bloom comes with 10 different vibration speed, from mild to rumbly. And it comes with three interchangeable weights -10 g, 30 g, and 45 g – that aim to suit different women’s needs.
The app function is not as complete as the one from Elvie Trainer and Kgoal, but it still provides good tracking and instant feedback.
Is it safe to Kegel exercise during pregnancy?
There’s no Yes or No answer for this. Make sure you consult your doctor before exercising during pregnancy.
Generally, doctors agree that Kegels are helpful for strengthening your pelvic floor muscles when practiced properly and a trained pelvic floor can help to make the delivery easier. However, it’s not the same for all women.
Don’t Kegel if you experience some undiagnosed pelvic pain or if you already have tight pelvic floor muscles.
Don’t Kegel if you can’t quite figure out how to do the exercise because improperly contracting the pelvic muscles can create more tension in your pelvic floor. This does not help during childbirth when you need to switching back and forth between tightening and loosening pelvic muscles.
When to start Kegel exercise during pregnancy?
Again, there’s no black-and-white answer for this. All women are different!
In general, women are suggested to do Kegel exercise during the second trimester. Because this is the period of time when many mothers-to-be start having a much-needed energy boost.
When to start Kegel exercise after delivery?
After your baby is born, you may be able to start or restart your Kegels exercise within a few days of an uncomplicated vaginal birth. Make sure you really feel ready and don’t push your body.
If you experienced some complications during vaginal birth or had a c-section, don’t rush to Kegel! You must wait until the doctor gives you a green light for Kegel.
When to start Kegel exercise after hysterectomy?
It’s suggested not to do any vaginal exercise for 8 weeks. Even if you feel ready, don’t rush to Kegel. Make sure you consult your doctor before Kegel.
Can Kegel balls cause bleeding?
No, you are not supposed to bleed because of Kegel exercise. Stop the exercise if you experience bleeding!
Many reasons can cause bleeding. Firstly, make sure your Kegel ball doesn’t have cracks or sharp edges that can cut you whilst inside. Besides, bleeding can happen if you have vaginal atrophy because your vaginal mucosa is getting thin due to the atrophy and the friction from Kegel has the potential to make it bleed. Prolapsed pelvic organs could be another reason that causes bleeding.
Again, stop Kegel and consult a doctor right away if you experiencing bleeding.
Can Kegel exercises make you looser?
If you are performing Kegel properly, it won’t make your vagina looser, instead, this exercise will make your vaginal opening tighter.
VERDICT: LET’S KEGEL FOR A HEALTHIER PELVIC FLOOR
Kegel exercises are proven to be effective and it delivers many benefits for women; however, it is not a panacea! If you have severe pelvic problems, make sure you consult your doctor before practicing Kegel.
Besides, Kegel exercises are great only when done appropriately, so, make sure you well-understand this topic before diving in the exercise.
I hope this complete guide is helpful to you. Feel free to leave a comment if you have any other questions regarding Kegel exercise :).