Kegel Exercises: Benefits and How to Do Them

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor. Performing them helps prevent urinary leaks and promotes the enjoyment of sexual relations.
Kegel Exercises: Benefits and How to Do Them

Last update: 04 April, 2023

Kegel exercises seek to strengthen the pelvic muscles, among which is the pubococcygeal muscle, which is responsible for supporting organs such as the bladder, uterus, rectum, and intestines. These exercises are also known as pelvic floor muscle training and can be done at any time of the day.

These exercises were presented as an alternative to treat urinary and anal incontinence, as well as anorgasmia in postpartum women. They were developed in 1948 by the American obstetrician-gynecologist Arnold Kegel. At present, it is known that they have even greater benefits for both women and men.

The benefits of Kegel exercises

The pelvic muscles can be affected regardless of age and for different reasons, including pregnancy and childbirth itself, surgeries in the area, constipation, chronic cough, age, and being overweight. For this reason, it’s very beneficial to perform them as a means of prevention, without the need for a recommendation from a  health professional for some specific treatment.

The pubococcygeus muscle forms a sling or hammock that starts at the coccyx and runs to the pubic bone. When this hammock isn’t strengthened, it begins to fall and with it the organs it supports, causing physical difficulties. This can be avoided with Kegel exercises.

Kegel exercises help prevent urine loss

Occasional or constant loss of urine (urinary incontinence) can occur for different reasons. Studies have established that women at different ages are more likely than men to develop this disorder.

When the muscles that keep the bladder closed become weak, it’s common for simple actions like sneezing, laughing, or lifting a weight to cause a light or heavy leak. In the most extreme cases, leaks occur without the slightest effort.

Kegel exercises are a non-surgical alternative that can reverse incontinence by strengthening the muscles, thus facilitating control over them. It’s not a good idea to perform them during urination, as this can cause the bladder to not empty completely, thus promising the appearance of urinary tract infections.

A lab technician performing urine tests.
Urinary infections are more frequent in patients who suffer from incontinence.

Improve anal incontinence

Anal or fecal incontinence is also caused by the prolapse of the anus, sometimes, and causes gas or feces to escape. In this case, the physical problem is accompanied by psychological difficulties, as it affects a person’s quality of life.

It’s more common in women who have given birth and can worsen with age if not corrected. Kegel exercises help strengthen the anal muscle and improve the condition.

Prevent uterine prolapse

A prolapsed uterus occurs when the pelvic floor muscles become weak and stretched to such an extent that they can’t support the uterus. This is the reason why the uterus moves toward the vagina and can bulge out of it. It affects women who’ve had one or more natural deliveries.

Among the treatments that could prevent this displacement of the organ, we find Kegel exercises, which should be performed during the pregnancy stage.

Improve sexual health

These exercises help to have greater control over the pelvic and sexual muscles. With practice, it’s possible to improve sexual health to the point of relaxing the muscles of the vagina during the act or medical check-ups, avoiding pain and discomfort.

At the same time, they increase sexual arousal and facilitate reaching orgasm by improving blood circulation in the vagina. They also increase the secretion of moisturize.

Kegel exercises help men to have greater control over ejaculation, being a routine that can prevent and improve premature ejaculation. They also contribute to stronger and longer lasting erections.

Kegel exercises are ideal in the postpartum period

Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles of the pelvic area and the genital area. So, it’s very helpful to perform them in the gestation stage and after delivery to maintain bladder control and bowel movements and to increase your strength and endurance.

Tips that make exercises easier

These exercises can be done anytime and anywhere. You can dedicate an estimated time per day or take advantage of the time you spend doing some of your daily choose to perform them.

To guarantee greater success with the execution of the exercises, it’s important to identify the muscles you need to work and find the best way to practice them. The following tips will help you:

  • Stop urination and feel the muscles contract with that action.
  • Imagine that some gas is about to come out and you clench your muscles to prevent it.
  • Lying down, you can insert a finger into your vagina and squeeze it as if you wanted to hold in urine. Men can do it by inserting a finger into the rectum. They’ll know they’re squeezing the right muscles if the inner skin wraps around the finger snugly.
  • Perform the contractions sitting or lying down and see how you feel most comfortable doing it.
  • If you have trouble finding your muscles or think you need help, feel free to see your doctor.
Kegel exercises help pregnant women.
Pregnant women benefit from Kegel exercises if they’re performed during and after pregnancy.

How to do Kegel exercises?

As we mentioned, performing these exercises is very simple. This is one of the easiest ways and it applies to men and women alike:

  • Make sure the bladder is empty.
  • Lie down on the bed or sit in a comfortable place.
  • Take a deep breath and relax your body.
  • Squeeze your pelvic muscles and hold for 3-5 seconds.
  • Relax the muscles for the same amount of time.
  • Make sure you’re not squeezing other muscles like your stomach, buttocks, or thighs.
  • Repeat this action 10 times, 3 times a day.

It’s important to note that if pain occurs during the exercises, it’s better to stop. It’s best not to exceed the practice, as tensing the muscles inappropriately can cause alterations.

Consistency is the key

Consciously perform Kegel exercises and be consistent, not only as a form of treatment but as a means of prevention. This way, you can prolong the health of your pelvic muscles and receive the benefits of the practice.

To help you remember to perform these exercises three times a day and to avoid exceeding this recommendation, you can use the alarm on your cell phone or follow a schedule in your agenda. The only way to show improvement in symptoms is through daily exercises performed correctly.

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