An unpretentious yet intricate question, do Kegels work? The simple answer to this question is yes, Kegels do in fact work.
Kegels refer to exercises that are used to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. It's important to note that pelvic floor muscles can be strengthened in every individual. The pelvic floor muscles are important because they are used to support bodily organs such as the bladder and its functionality, small intestine, uterus, and the rectum. Strains to the pelvic floor muscle can pose substantial challenges to the individual experiencing issues in this region of the body, such as incontinence and prolapse.
There are various devices and techniques that are employed in this field of study to help improve one’s pelvic floor. Kegel exercises are among them. Kegel exercises require consistent use and, over time, the results will be of value to those who do them correctly. This article is intended to help the reader gain an in-depth understanding of Kegels and their relationship to the intricate pelvic floor muscle.
Why should I do Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises are beneficial to those that do them properly and consistently. Furthermore, Kegel exercises can either help to prevent pelvic floor dysfunction from occurring or they can be used to treat people experiencing issues such as postpartum perineum, overactive bladder, incontinence and prolapse. Symptoms of a dysfunctional pelvic floor include but are not limited to:
- Constipation, straining or pain with bowel movements
- Unexplained pain in the lower back, pelvis, genitals, or rectum
- Pelvic muscle spasms
- A frequent need to urinate
- Painful intercourse for users1
Schedule a medical exam with a physician if you are experiencing the symptoms mentioned above. You can help your physical symptoms by training your pelvic floor muscles, these techniques promote health and provide support so that these symptoms do not get any worse.
Kegels for men
Kegel exercises are not only for anyone with vaginal anatomy, they can also be performed by men to improve bladder control and potentially sexual performance2. If you are a man who frequently experiences dribble after urination or if any urinary or fecal incontinence presents, then pelvic floor training can be a great way to take control of the situation. Kegel exercises can be done anywhere and at any time. It is advisable before you begin your first routine that you should be in a comfortable space and able to get to grips with the exercises as well as how to perform them properly.
The first step in the Kegel program is to identify your pelvic floor muscles. You can do this by stopping urination mid-stream and tightening the muscles that stop you from passing gas. These contractions are your pelvic floor muscles working. The next step is to hone the new skill. You can start with three-second contractions followed by three seconds of complete relaxation, then repeat and increase your repetitions, eventually moving into the realms of unconscious muscle activity. Consistency is the key here and weaving these Kegel exercises into your daily routine will help significantly with prevention of pelvic floor dysfunction.
Kegels for women
Kegel exercises are also beneficial to anyone with a vagina who want to prevent or help to treat urinary incontinence or other pelvic floor problems, and they can be done at any time that is convenient3. You are likely to benefit from Kegel exercises if you experience any leaks of urine while sneezing, coughing, or laughing. It will also aid in stopping/slowing down the progression of your prolapse symptoms. As with the advice for men, the same goes for women, ensure you do this daily and build up to a routine where you can do three full sets of 10 repetitions of three-second holds on each contraction and relaxation and make this a part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth.
How to do Kegels that work
To tackle any pelvic floor dysfunction as well as aid the recovery of a weakened pelvic floor, Kegel exercises, are designed to strengthen and condition deep pelvic floor muscles. They must be followed explicitly to ensure the greatest chance of assistance with recovery and prevention. It is important to begin by properly locating and ensuring you are working your pelvic muscles. First, lie down to get to grips with the muscles required for pelvic floor training. Then, begin with low repetitions and work up to larger sets to a grand total of three sets of 10 repetitions, and do this daily. One repetition should consist of three full seconds of contraction followed by three full seconds of complete relaxation. You can migrate to standing or walking to perform the exercises as you get more comfortable with them. Do not clench other parts of the body when performing these movements, however, be mindful that it is advisable to build strength in your hip and core too for maximum response, if you can.
Do my Kegels work?
So, do Kegel exercises work? If the Kegel exercises are performed frequently and properly, one can expect to feel the benefits after a few weeks to a few months of starting them. You can expect less frequent leakage when these exercises become a permanent part of your daily routine. Think of these exercises as you would any other muscle you would work in a gym or a swimming pool. The premise is the same here. The goal is to condition and build strength in a weakened muscle, and the way to do that is to be focused and consistent with the exercise effort and time given to do these movements, ensuring they form a permanent fixture in your daily routine, like brushing your teeth.
The exercises were developed in the late 1940s by Dr Arnold H. Kegel, an American gynecologist, as a non-surgical way to prevent women leaking urine. They also worked for men plagued with incontinence4. Strong pelvic floor muscles can help ward off incontinence for all genders.
Start with a calendar of attainable goals, such as: day 1, locating the correct muscles in your pelvic floor by performing some simple exercises as listed above, day 2, beginning to squeeze and hold contractions of your pelvic floor for one second and then full relaxation for a couple of seconds, try this a couple of times, but be careful not to fatigue yourself. The best way to set any goal is to make it measurable and attainable so you can track your progress. A couple of repetitions per day is a great start and you can build up to more repetitions with equal time spent to fully relax the pelvic muscles. Note the relaxation is just as important as the contraction. Eventually you will be able to get to 10-second holds and deep relaxations in between each repetition as well as being able to perform them at any time in any place that suits your day.
Perifit: strengthen your pelvic floor with games and take the guesswork out of Kegels
The Perifit Kegel trainer comes with provides you with instant feedback on your pelvic floor strength and the quality of your contractions (Kegels) by using the probe and mobile app. This device uses an app, which can be accessed through your smartphone, to provide pelvic floor training to all users regardless of age or pelvic floor condition. Perifit offers a fun and engaging way to practice your Kegels and give you the confidence to lead your life without the fear of any potential embarrassing moments.
- 5 ways to train your pelvic floor
- The Pelvic Floor: What you need to know
- Maintaining your pelvic health with good habits
- Vulva vs Vagina: What's the difference really?
- Columbia University Irving Medical Center, ‘Pelvic Floor Disorders: Frequently Asked Questions’ Colorectal Surgery Columbia Surgery, date accessed on 06/28/2021: https://columbiasurgery.org/colorectal/pelvic-floor-disorders-frequently-asked-questions
- Mayo Clinic, ‘Kegel exercises for men: Understand the benefits’ date accessed on 07/26/21: https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/mens-health/in-depth/kegel-exercises-for-men/art-20045074
- Mayo Clinic, ‘Kegel exercises: A how-to guide for women’ date accessed on 07/26/21: ttps://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/kegel-exercises/art-20045283
- Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School, ‘Step by step guide to performing Kegel exercises’ date accessed on 07/27/21: https://www.health.harvard.edu/bladder-and-bowel/step-by-step-guide-to-performing-kegel-exercises