The pelvic floor muscles, or ‘Kegel muscles’ are a group of muscles below the pelvis that keep reproductive organs in place, help sexual pleasure, and control bladder. How awesome is that? This muscle is totally underrated.
When your pelvic floor is not in tiptop shape it can cause bothersome or even painful problems.
· Do you pee a little when you laugh, cough, sneeze, or lift something heavy?
· When you have to pee does it oftentimes feel like an emergency and you might not make it to the bathroom in time?
· Have you had a baby recently and everything seems loosey-goosey down there?
· Do you ejaculate sooner than you and your partner would like and want ways to last longer?
These all could be sign of a weakened pelvic floor. The pelvic floor can become strained or overworked from pregnancy, childbirth, abdominal surgery like a C-section, obesity, high-impact sports, or simply aging. When the pelvic muscles are weakened, it can cause bladder or bowel issues, incontinence (leakage), pelvic pain, or pain during sex.
Pelvic health problems can feel messy or uncomfortable. You might feel alone in these problems, but they’re actually very common—there’s no reason to be embarrassed and there are easy solutions.
Kegel (key-gull) exercises, often just called Kegels, are clenching and unclenching of the pelvic muscles. These exercises strengthen the muscles to relieve pelvic symptoms, but also have other added benefits.
A stronger vagina can have a tighter grip during intercourse, which makes for intense orgasms. Contrary to what most people think, Kegels are not only for people with vaginas and have benefits for people of all genders. Kegels can help have stronger erections and better control over ejaculation.
So how do Kegels work?
The first step is locating your Kegel muscle. The best way to do this is while you pee. Stop midstream and hold for a few seconds, then resume peeing. After a few seconds stop again. Practice this a few times to get a sense of the muscle that controls the stop-start action. Now that you’ve isolated your pelvic floor muscle, you can start Kegels.
Start by tightening up your Kegel muscles for 3 seconds and then relax for 3 seconds. It’s important that your stomach and thigh muscles do not tighten up when you do this. The control should come straight from your pelvis. You can put your hands on your stomach to check that you’re not accidentally flexing without realizing. Repeat the tightening and release about 10-20 times.
It’s best not to do Kegels while peeing, but can be done almost any other time. The best thing is you can do this workout anywhere—at your desk, in the car, in the movie theater, wherever you like and no one knows. Kegels during masturbation can also boost your arousal. It’s good practice for contracting during climax, which can feel more intense for both partners.
Do Kegels daily, adding 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds at a time. After a few months you should notice a difference in your strength.
Don’t be discouraged if your strength does not improve—there are a variety of pelvic floor toners and exercisers available! Plus your doctor is a great resource to discuss what else might be affecting your pelvic health. The important thing is to address pesky symptoms before they become more bothersome. Who has time for that? Not you.