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Can Daily Kegel Exercises Benefit Your Health?


If you have experienced bladder issues, pregnancy, or sexual problems, you have likely heard about Kegel exercises. But, what are Kegel exercises, and how can they help pelvic health? There are many benefits to Kegels for women and men alike.

What are Kegel exercises?

Before you can understand how Kegel exercises benefit your health, knowing what they are and how they work is necessary. Kegel exercises are specific movements: exercises done to strengthen the muscles in your pelvic floor. These important muscles help with many functions related to urination, bowel movements, and sex.

Kegel exercises help prevent urine leakage and prevent you from accidentally passing stool or gas. In some cases, they also improve the quality and strength of your orgasm. For women, keeping these muscles strong and fit helps keep your bowel, bladder, and uterus from sagging into the vagina, a condition called pelvic organ prolapse.

How to find your pelvic floor muscles?

Your pelvic floor muscles form a hammock or sling that runs from your public bone (in the front of your pelvis) to your tailbone (at the base of your spine). It is relatively simple to locate the pelvic floor muscles using one of three methods.

  • Imagine you are urinating. Now, contract the muscles in your pelvis that you would use to stop the flow of urine midstream. These are your pelvic floor muscles. Don't actually "try" this process, as it can lead to several potential medical complications such as urinary tract infections and difficulties emptying your bladder.
  • You can also contract the muscles you would use to prevent passing gas or having a bowel movement. Avoid contracting the inner thighs, abdomen, or buttocks as these are not part of the pelvic floor. If you isolate the correct muscles, your body should not “lift.”
  • Women can also locate the pelvic floor muscles internally. Insert one finger into your vagina and contract the vaginal muscle. The pelvic floor muscles produce the pressure you feel around your finger.

How can Kegel exercise benefit your health?

Performing Kegel exercises can have several positive effects on your health.

Kegels can improve overall fitness

Unfortunately, many of us lead sedentary lifestyles. Prolonged sitting (due to work) and repetitive movements can harm your joints and muscles as an injury and pregnancy. Prolonged sitting can, with time, lead to a dramatic reduction in fitness and strength. During pregnancy, your abdominal muscles stretch and expand, weakening your core. A pregnant belly strains your lower back, and the hormones involved with pregnancy cause loosening of ligaments, making injury more likely.

Prolonged sitting, back, hip, and pelvic injuries and the strain of childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor, but performing pelvic floor exercises to strengthen these muscles can reduce the risk of incontinence, painful intercourse, and pelvic organ prolapse.

Kegels hasten recovery after childbirth

No matter the method of delivery, childbirth is hard on the pelvic floor muscles. The weakness that often begins during pregnancy can be exacerbated by vaginal delivery. Fortunately, like any other muscle tear, the pelvic floor muscles will heal. Kegel exercise can improve the speed of the healing process.

Kegels can improve sexual health

Kegel exercise can make the vagina feel tighter and, for some women, may improve the quality and intensity of their orgasm. Pelvic floor muscles play a vital role in the orgasm process. These muscles are responsible for experiencing pleasurable contractions that are felt in the genitals during orgasm. When pelvic floor muscles are healthy, orgasms last longer and are more intense.

Kegel exercises also increase blood flow to your pelvic region. This helps improve lubrication, sexual arousal, and the ability to achieve orgasm. Increased blood flow also enhances vaginal tightness, which leads to a more pleasurable experience for your partner as well.

Kegels can reduce the pain associated with vaginismus, a painful condition involving involuntary vaginal muscle contractions. Greater flexibility in the pelvic floor muscles improves comfortable vaginal penetration and can lead to pleasurable intercourse and the absence of pelvic pain.

Kegels can reduce pelvic organ prolapse (POP)

Pelvic organ prolapse is a medical condition where one or more of your pelvic organs press into or descend into the walls of the vagina. It often occurs after the muscle of the pelvic floor and their connected ligaments have been weakened or stretched, as can occur after pregnancy and childbirth.

Women may experience POP from prolonged heavy lifting for exercise or work or from chronic conditions like obesity, chronic cough, and constipation. While POP is not life threatening, it can lead to bowel and bladder control problems, fear, and pain. Kegels can entirely cure mild prolapse and reduce moderate prolapse to the point where it does not interfere with daily activities.

Kegels can cure bladder leaks

The muscles in the pelvic floor support your rectum, bladder, and uterus. When these muscles grow weak, there is less support around the bladder, which can cause incontinence. Kegels are an excellent, non-invasive, non-surgical cure for urinary incontinence.

Kegels can improve back and hip support

Pelvic floor muscles are vital to your core support. They work together with the abdominal and hip muscles to provide core strength and support. When the pelvic floor muscles are weak, it can affect joints in your lower spine, pelvis, and tailbone. Some studies suggest up to 38% of women with urinary leakage also experience lower back pain. Kegels can help both of these conditions.

Are Kegels beneficial for men too?

While people associated the benefits of Kegel exercises with women's health, men with certain health and sexual health concerns can also benefit from Kegel exercises. For men, strengthening the pelvic muscles can:

  • Help manage pain and swelling in the prostate
  • Improve urinary incontinence
  • Increase sexual pleasure with greater control over ejaculation and improved sensation during orgasm

Conclusion

Kegel exercises are easy to do. They can be done any time you are sitting or lying down. You can do them when you are eating, sitting at your desk, driving, and when you are resting or watching television. Remember that results will not occur instantly; however, once you start, they can dramatically benefit your pelvic health.

Key takeaways

If you have experienced bladder issues, pregnancy, or sexual problems, you have likely heard about Kegel exercises.

Kegel exercises are easy to do. They can be done any time you are sitting or lying down.

For women, keeping these muscles strong and fit helps keep your bowel, bladder, and uterus from sagging into the vagina.

Men with certain health and sexual health concerns can also benefit from Kegel exercises.

Resources:

Urology Care Foundation. What are Pelvic Floor (Kegel) Exercises?

Mayo Clinic. Pelvic Floor Muscles.

May Clinic. Kegel Exercises For Men.

Medline Plus. Kegel Exercises – Self-care.

Bush, H., Pagorek, S., Kuperstein, J., et. al. (2013). The Association of Chronic Back Pain and Stress Urinary Incontinence: A Cross Sectional Study. Journal of Women’s Health Phys. Therap.

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