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What Are Kegel Exercises?

What are Kegel exercises

Table of Contents

Kegel exercises are performed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles are a set of muscles that contract when a person tries to stop urinating, blocking the flow of urine. There are many benefits to strengthening these muscles, helping to prevent leakage or urinary incontinence, and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, uterus, small intestine, and rectum. Various factors such as aging, childbirth, pregnancy, and overweight can weaken the pelvic floor muscles.

Kegel exercises can not only help prevent urine leakage but can also help prevent accidental defecation or gas and may even help improve orgasm. Keeping these muscles in place helps prevent the uterus, bladder, and intestines from slipping into the vagina. If this happens, it is called pelvic organ prolapse.

Why do Kegel exercises?

Both women and men can benefit from Kegel exercises. Many factors can weaken the pelvic floor in women, such as pregnancy, childbirth, aging, and weight gain. The pelvic floor muscles support the uterus, bladder, and intestines. These pelvic organs may descend into a woman’s vagina if the muscles are weak. In addition to being very upsetting, it can also cause urinary incontinence.

Men may also experience weakness in their pelvic floor muscles as they age. This can lead to urinary and fecal incontinence, especially if the man has prostate surgery.

Finding the pelvic floor muscles in women

Finding the pelvic floor muscles in women

It can be difficult to find the right muscle set when a woman starts Kegel exercises. One way to find them is to put a clean finger inside the vagina and tighten the vaginal muscles around the finger.

The muscles can also be determined by trying to block urine flow in the middle. The muscles used for this operation are the pelvic floor muscles. Of course, this method should not be used only for learning purposes. Incomplete bladder emptying can increase the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI).

If a woman is still unsure she has found the right muscles, she can talk to a gynecologist. They may recommend using an object called a vaginal cone. Insert a vaginal cone into the vagina, and then use your pelvic floor muscles to hold it in place.

Biofeedback training can also be very helpful in helping to identify and isolate pelvic floor muscles. In this procedure, a doctor inserts a small probe into the vagina or inserts sticky electrodes into the outside of the vagina or anus. The doctor asks the woman to do Kegel. The monitor shows whether the muscles have adequately contracted and how long the woman has been able to maintain the contraction.

Finding the pelvic floor muscles in men

For men, one way to find the pelvic floor muscles is to insert a finger into the rectum and try to squeeze it without tightening the muscles of the abdomen, buttocks, or thighs.

Another useful trick is to contract the muscles that prevent flatulence. Practice stopping the flow of urine. This is a safe way to locate the pelvic floor muscles, but it should not become a regular exercise. Biofeedback can also help men find their pelvic floor muscles.

What causes pelvic organ prolapse to develop in the first place?

What causes pelvic organ prolapse to develop in the first place

Any health condition that puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles and weakens them can lead to pelvic organ prolapse. Including:

  • Pregnancy and vaginal childbirth
  • Being overweight
  • Surgery in the pelvic area
  • Genetics: Some people are more likely to develop weakness in the tissues that support the pelvic floor muscles.
  • Natural aging process: The pelvic floor muscles, as well as the rectum and anus muscles, naturally weaken with age. Loss of estrogen also weakens the muscles in this area.
  • Frequent bouts of sneezing, coughing, laughing
  • Exercises (especially jumping, running, and other ‘jarring’ exercises; heavy weight lifting); and contact sports

How to practice Kegel exercises

Fortunately, Kegel is a relatively simple and effective exercise that most people can do to improve the tone of their pelvic floor muscles dramatically. Kegel is basically repetitive strains of the pelvic floor muscles. No special equipment is required to perform these exercises, and they can be done anywhere. You have to find the right muscles, tighten them, hold, release, rest, and repeat the movement. Kegel can be done almost anywhere and only takes a few minutes a day to run.

Performing Kegel exercises

Four comfortable positions to start with include:

  • Kneeling on all fours
  • Lying down
  • Sitting
  • Standing

Ideally, do all four modes daily for maximum strength.

It is appropriate to do Kegel exercises three times a day. It is important to pay attention to these points when doing the exercise:

  • Make sure the bladder is empty, then sit or lie down
  • Tighten the pelvic floor muscles. Hold tight and count to 3 to 5 seconds
  • Relax the muscles and count for 3 to 5 seconds
  • Repeat ten times, three times a day
  • When doing these exercises, take a deep breath and relax your body
  • Do not increase the number of exercises. Overdoing it can lead to straining when urinating or moving bowels

Some notes of caution:

  • Do not do Kegel exercises while urinating more than twice a month. Exercising while urinating can weaken pelvic floor muscles over time or damage the bladder and kidneys
  • In women, doing Kegel exercises incorrectly or with too much force may cause the vaginal muscles to tighten too much. This can cause pain during intercourse
  • Stopping exercise causes incontinence to return. For this reason, it may be necessary to continue for the rest of your life
  • Once these exercises are started, it may take several months for the incontinence to subside

Pregnancy and pelvic floor muscles

Pregnancy and childbirth can put a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, especially due to the weight of the abdomen, changes in body posture and alignment, and all the strains and contractions that occur in the pelvic and abdominal areas of women as they grow. Childbirth can also cause damage to these muscles, resulting in common pelvic floor disorders.

Research conclusively shows the link between pregnancy and decreased pelvic floor strength. Other factors, such as trauma, abdominal surgery, recurrent constipation, aging, and overweight, can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. Even if pelvic floor dysfunction is not clinically diagnosed, Kegel exercises can help reverse, improve, or prevent a variety of pelvic health symptoms that commonly occur during or after pregnancy, including:

  • Constipation or pain with bowel movements
  • Feeling like you aren’t “done” during a bowel movement
  • Leakage of stool
  • Lower back pain
  • Painful urination
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Postpartum incontinence

If a woman has particular concerns about pelvic health. In that case, especially if she is pregnant or has just given birth, it is good to talk to the doctor about starting these exercises.

Kegels can improve sex life

Kegel exercises offer a variety of benefits for men, including stronger preparation and postpartum recovery, stronger orgasms for women, and even more enjoyable sex for men. Kegel benefits for sex include:

  • Improve ability to reach orgasm
  • Improve blood circulation to the vagina
  • Make sex feel better
  • Boost sexual confidence

When to see a doctor?

When to see a doctor in Kegel exercises

For many people, adding pelvic floor exercises to their daily routine is a simple way to strengthen these muscles and maintain overall pelvic health. But for many others, getting help from a doctor for pelvic floor problems is essential. The following could be signs of a problem that may need to be addressed by the doctor:

  • Leaking urine or stool
  • Problems with having a bowel movement
  • Pressure or discomfort in the pelvis
  • Pain while urinating
  • Seeing or feeling a bulge protruding out of the vagina or anus
  • Incontinence
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder or bowels completely

The bottom line

Kegel exercises are simple exercises that any woman can do to strengthen her pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor contains a set of muscles and tissues that support the reproductive organs. If these muscles are weakened, there may be problems such as the inability to control the bladder.

Of course, this exercise is not for women, but since some of the most essential organs of women are located in the pelvic area, doing this exercise is more important for women.

Additional questions

1. Can Kegel exercises cure vaginismus?

Vaginismus is an involuntary stretching of the vagina. People experience it at the beginning of sex, when a tampon is inserted, or when a pelvic exam is performed. Vaginismus can make intercourse painful. Kegel exercise, vaginal dilators, and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) can help relax muscles and stop spasms.

2. What are the symptoms of weak pelvic floor muscles?

  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Urinary leakage
  • Pain with sexual intercourse
  • Pelvic pressure or fullness
  •  Urinary incontinence
  •  Lower back pain
  •  Constipation
  • Difficulties with bowel movements, or bowel leakage

3. How long does it take to strengthen the pelvic floor?

Most people prefer to do the exercises while lying down or sitting on a chair. After 4 to 6 weeks, most people notice improvement. It may take up to 3 months for a major change to be observed.

4. What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and connective tissues. These soft tissues attach to the pelvis and specifically to the lower pelvic bones. The pelvic organs include the urethra, bladder, intestines, and rectum in all people. The pelvic floor in women also consists of the uterus, cervix, and vagina.