By Taylor James
Kegel exercises can improve your sex life and prevent and control urinary incontinence issues by strengthening pelvic floor muscles. Keep reading to find out how Kegels can work for you and get a step-by-step guide to doing Kegel exercises correctly.
What are Kegel exercises?
Kegels, or Kegel exercises, are a great way to improve your sex life as well as bladder and bowel control. Kegels are contractions of the pelvic floor muscles, which surround and support the uterus, vagina, bladder, and rectum. By performing Kegels, you can train your muscles to prevent bladder leaks, help treat lower back and pelvic pain, and improve sex by increasing blood flow to the vagina.
When you are first beginning a Kegel exercise regimen, it can be challenging to find the right muscles. You can locate the correct muscles by trying to stop your urine mid-flow. The muscles you use to stop your urine are your pelvic floor muscles*. Another option is to insert a clean finger into your vagina and try tightening your pelvic floor muscles around it. Get used to how it feels to have the muscles contract and relax around your finger. Try holding the muscle contraction for three seconds. Got it? Congratulations! You just did your first Kegel exercise!
*Just a note, this method should only be used for learning only. Stopping and restarting your urine regularly is not a good idea as incomplete bladder emptying can lead to urinary tract infections (UTIs), which we know you don’t want.
Who should try Kegel exercises?
Kegels are helpful for women who have experienced gynecological surgeries, pregnancy and childbirth, urinary incontinence issues, or want to improve their sexual pleasure. Because Kegels increase blood flow to the vagina they can play a role in arousal, increasing natural lubrication, and helping you reach orgasm faster.
If you’ve experienced any of the below, you may benefit from Kegel exercises:
- Leak urine while laughing, coughing, or sneezing
- Have a strong, sudden urge to urinate right before leaking a large amount of urine
- Leak stool
- Experience painful sex due to trouble relaxing vaginal muscles
Pregnant women can also improve their birthing experience through Kegel exercises. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can lead to the ability to control muscles during labor, as well as minimize the risk of bladder leakage and hemorrhoids.
Benefits of Kegels for women
In addition to bladder control and improved labor, Kegels have many other major benefits.
- Kegels can improve your sex life with and without a partner. Strong pelvic floor muscles are essential to orgasm because they are responsible for the pleasurable contractions when orgasm occurs. Healthy pelvic floor muscles lead to longer, more intense orgasms. When it comes to vaginal penetration, Kegel exercises can make the vagina feel tighter and accentuate the intensity of the orgasm.
- Kegel exercises can help relieve back and hip pain. Although you may not think about it at first, the pelvic floor muscles are a component of your inner core muscles that support the trunk and the hips. When your core muscles are not at optimal strength, it can affect your hips, tailbone, and spine. Women with urinary incontinence often experience lower back pain, and Kegel exercises help address both of these conditions.
- Kegel exercises can aid overall health. A sedentary lifestyle, repetitive movements, pregnancy, and injury can cause all sorts of havoc to your body. Prolonged sitting can deteriorate muscle, the stretching of muscles caused by pregnancy can weaken your core, and the weight of a pregnant belly can cause lower back pain. Adding pelvic floor exercises to your routine can improve your overall health and prevent pelvic organ prolapse and painful intercourse.
How to do Kegel exercises- alone and with beads
Exercising your pelvic floor muscles is an exercise you can do anywhere, whether sitting in traffic or on the couch while watching tv. Just like with any exercise, you have to build up to a routine. Here’s a guide to get you started.
- DO. Start slow and with an empty bladder. When you first begin a Kegel exercise routine, start with an empty bladder. Then tense your pelvic floor muscles for five seconds and relax for five seconds. Keep going until you have completed ten repetitions.
- DON’T. Hold your breath. Just like traditional exercises at the gym, it is important to breathe through Kegels. Try to relax your mind and take deep, calming breaths.
- DON’T. Flex unnecessary muscles. Keep your focus on your pelvic floor muscles. Do not flex the muscles in your thighs, buttocks, or abdomen.
- DO. Build up to a routine. Work up until you can do three sets of ten repetitions a day.
Although Kegel exercises can be done without any equipment, Kegel weighted beads or a Kegel training system can help amp up your routine. Each bead is designed with a weighted center that vibrates in your response to your body, making the workout more effective. If you are new to Kegel weights, be sure to start with lighter ones and work your way up to the heaviest beads to avoid soreness. Try these for a few minutes each day and then gradually increase your workouts as your pelvic floor muscles become stronger.