Kegel exercises are a type of clench-and-release exercise that can be performed anytime to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are responsible for supporting your bladder, bowels, and uterus, and consistent Kegel exercises can help you improve bladder and bowel control issues that arise from a weak pelvic floor. Additionally, these exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor and vaginal muscles after pregnancy and childbirth.
If you are experiencing pelvic floor issues or suddenly lack bladder control, it’s essential to see your healthcare provider and get checked out. In case of weak pelvic floor-related issues, Kegels are recommended by healthcare professionals.
To ensure that you are performing Kegels correctly, it’s essential to locate your pelvic floor muscles before beginning. According to experts, placing a clean finger in your vagina and squeezing as if to stop peeing can help locate the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel the muscles tighten around your finger, you are squeezing the right muscles. Alternatively, if you have a penis, inserting a clean finger into your anus and squeezing your muscles as if holding in pee can help locate the correct muscles.
For the best results in strengthening the pelvic floor, Kegel exercises should be performed up to 10-15 times three times a day. To perform Kegels correctly, follow these steps: start by sitting, lying down, or standing, then clench your pelvic muscles as if holding in pee. While clenching, hold your pelvic floor muscles for three seconds, then release and relax them for another three seconds. Repeat this clench and release exercise up to 15 times for one set.
There are additional Kegel tips to keep in mind: it’s important to empty your bladder before starting, stick to a routine of performing Kegels at specific times or tasks, breathe correctly, avoid squeezing nearby muscles such as the thighs, butt, and stomach muscles, and avoid overdoing it since too many Kegels can lead to straining during bathroom use.
Kegel exercises can help improve bladder and bowel control and treat vaginal discomfort and sexual dysfunction linked to a weak pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles act as a hammock that holds in pelvic organs, such as the bladder, large intestine, and uterus. Weak pelvic floor muscles lead to less ability to control the organs they support. Therefore, Kegels can strengthen the pelvic floor and improve bladder and bowel control.
When pelvic floor muscles become weak or injured, urinary and fecal incontinence can occur, leading to accidental leakage or bowel movements. However, Kegels can help treat urinary and fecal incontinence issues by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles around the bladder and bowels. A 2020 review found that Kegel exercises helped stop leaks, especially after childbirth. Moreover, a review of 31 trials found that the groups that completed pelvic floor exercises gained more bladder control. Incontinence can affect people of all sexes, especially older people. As people age, the pelvic floor muscles naturally weaken, making it harder to control urine and stool.
Kegel exercises can also help reduce urinary leakage and dribbling in people recovering from prostate surgery. A small study of prostate cancer patients in 2022 found that 94% of those who did Kegels regained bladder control three months after prostate surgery. Strengthening the pelvic floor with Kegels can also help improve sexual function, vaginal discomfort, and pelvic organ prolapse.
After childbirth and during pregnancy, the vaginal muscles stretch, and the pelvic floor becomes weak, leading to post-birth pelvic floor issues. Additionally, a weak pelvic floor can cause the vagina to feel loose and uncomfortable. However, a 2021 study found that people who do Kegels after giving birth can help strengthen the vaginal muscles and reduce symptoms of urinary incontinence.
Additionally, Kegels may also improve sexual function for some women. By strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, Kegels can increase sensitivity during sex and potentially enhance orgasm. However, it’s important to note that not all women experience these benefits, and the degree of improvement may vary.
It’s worth mentioning that Kegels are not the only way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Other exercises that target these muscles include squats, lunges, bridges, and planks. Yoga and Pilates can also help improve pelvic floor strength.
If you’re interested in doing Kegels, it’s important to ensure you’re doing them correctly. To perform a Kegel, contract your pelvic floor muscles as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Hold for a few seconds, then release. Repeat this process several times, aiming for three sets of 10 repetitions each day.
In conclusion, Kegels are a simple and effective exercise that can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. They may improve urinary incontinence and sexual function for some women. If you’re interested in doing Kegels, be sure to practice proper form and aim for consistency in your routine.