What is Kegel exercise?
Kegel exercises are a series of pelvic muscle exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which are originally developed by Dr. Arnold Kegel in 1948 as a method of controlling incontinence in women following childbirth. These exercises are now recommended for women with urinary stress incontinence, some men who have urinary incontinence after prostate surgery, and people who have fecal incontinence. The principle behind Kegel exercises is to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, thereby improving the urethral and rectal sphincter function, where the success of Kegel exercises depends on proper technique and adherence to a regular exercise program. Kegel exercises may be beneficial in treating urinary incontinence in both men and women beside all these benefits already mentioned.
Kegel exercises are also known as pelvic floor exercises, or simply “Kegels”, named for Dr. Arnold Kegel who has contemporized and popularized this practice. He developed a number of different sexual practices to strengthen and tone these same muscles for health, longevity, sexual gratification, and spiritual development. This exercise will make it easier for you to reach orgasm, make your orgasms stronger and better, as the muscles you are exercising are the same as used during orgasm.
Kegel exercises would make your vagina more sensitive since the sensitivity of your vaginal will be increased. When squeezing, you will feel your partner's penis much better. It will simply heighten your sexual satisfaction, prevent prolapse and incontinence, make childbirth easier, and your muscles will regain more quickly after giving birth. For your partner, it will be a tremendous difference because you will get tighter. You can pull and squeeze your partner's penis for mutual plesure. You do not have to be nervous the first time you make love with a new partner, wondering what he will think of you. Doing Kegel exercise, you will have better sexual self-confidence and you will know that your present or future boyfriend, husband or lover will not be disappointed. The fact is that men prefer women with a stronger vagina and to many men, it is more important that one’s lover has strong vaginal walls than having a perfect body. In some cultures, women exercise their vaginal strength to help them keep their future or present husband. You can be proud of your vaginal strength, just like one can be proud of one's body. The woman will get more control in bed since many women enjoy that and think it is fun. Moreover, when the pelvic floor muscles are weak, problems with losing urine occur. Doing the exercises correctly and regularly can strengthen the muscles. Stronger muscles lead to little or no urine loss for many women; it is also risk-free, low-cost, painless exercise.
How to do Kegel exercise?
Over one-third of women who start with Kegel exercise, start out squeezing the wrong muscles. Therefore, it is helpful to work with a doctor or nurse who can teach you the correct technique for it. You can also check yourself by placing a finger in your vagina and squeezing around it. When you feel pressure around your finger, you are using the correct muscle, and try to keep everything relaxed except the muscles right around the vagina. At the same time, do not bear down or squeeze your thigh, back, or abdominal muscles, and breathe slowly and deeply. [2,3]
At first you can do the exercises with your knees together, lying or sitting. If you read that these exercises can be done anywhere, anytime, that is not necessarily true. It has been determined that the optimal frequency of use is five minute sessions done twice a day. So doing them while watching television or wherever you think of it usually will not work as well, but many women report that five minutes before they get up in the morning and five minutes before they sleep is a helpful routine. It is extremely important that you are positive you are doing them correctly before you start, and you must know it is recommended doing the exercises for five minutes twice a day. You should squeeze the muscle for a count of four and relax for count of four. At first, you may not be able to do the exercises for a whole five minutes. You will probably not be able to hold the squeeze for a count of four. With practice, it will become easier as your muscles get stronger.
When should I expect improvement?
It takes from six to twelve weeks for most women to notice a change in urination control, but remember that if you do the exercises regularly you could cure yourself and avoid surgery if you have such problems. Once the exercises become easy, you can further strengthen the muscles by squeezing to a count of eight and relaxing to a count of eight and repeat this for five minutes two times a day. It will also work the muscle more to do the exercises with your knees apart. Once that you have attained your goal, you can do the exercises for five minutes three times a week. If you start having problems again with urine control, you may need to go back to five minutes two times a day. [2,3]
Helpful hints for Kegel exercises
You could listen to music while exercising as it can make it more fun. Keep a calendar and give yourself a check mark or star each time you do Kegel exercises. This will help you keep track of when you started and keep you motivated, so if you stop doing the exercises, start again. Just remember it takes regular practice to see results. If you want, you can masturbate at the same time, since masturbating is not filthy but natural. All women should masturbate, whether they have a partner or not as masturbating helps you to learn more about your body and genitals, what you like or enjoy regarding sex and makes you more open minded towards sex. Actually, many women get a better sex life if they masturbate and it also helps you get rid of stress and tension in your life. According to several surveys, up to 90% of women, both married and unmarried masturbates, many of them several times a week.
Moreover, you must know there are several techniques help the incontinent person identify the correct muscles. One approach is to sit on the toilet and start to urinate and then try to stop the flow of urine midstream by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. Repeat this action several times until you become familiar with the feel of contracting the correct group of muscles. Do not contract your abdominal, thigh, or buttocks muscles while performing the exercise. Another approach to help you identify the right muscle group is to insert a finger into the vagina or in the rectum in men. Try to tighten the muscles around your finger as if holding back urine while abdominal and thigh muscles should remain relaxed. A woman may also strengthen these muscles by using a vaginal cone. This is a weighted device inserted into the vagina; the woman then tries to contract the pelvic floor muscles in an effort to hold the device in place.
For those people who are unsure if they are performing the procedure correctly, biofeedback and electrical stimulation may be used to help identify the correct muscle group to work Kegel exercise. Biofeedback is a method of positive reinforcement where electrodes are placed on the abdomen and along the anal area. Some therapists place a sensor in the vagina in women or anus in men, to monitor contraction of their pelvic floor muscles.
A monitor will display a graph showing which muscles are contracting and which are at rest and the therapist can help identify the correct muscles for performing Kegel exercises. Electrical stimulation involves using low-voltage electric current to stimulate the right group of muscles where the current may be delivered using an anal or vaginal probe. The electrical stimulation therapy may be performed in the clinic or at home with treatment sessions that usually last 20 minutes and may be performed every 1 to 4 days. Some clinical studies showed promising results in treating stress and urge incontinence with electrical stimulation.
Steps for performing Kegel exercise
- Begin by emptying bladder.
- Tighten the pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of ten.
- Relax the muscle completely for a count of ten.
- Perform ten exercises, three times a day in morning, afternoon, and evening.
These exercises can be performed any time and any place although most people prefer to perform the exercises while lying down or sitting in a chair. After four to six weeks, most people notice some improvement. It may take as long as three months to see a significant change, but you must be patient. A word of caution - some people feel that they can speed up the progress by increasing the number of repetitions and the frequency of exercises, but this over-exercising may instead cause muscle fatigue and increase leakage of urine. That is why if you feel any discomfort in your abdomen or back while performing these exercises, you are probably performing them incorrectly. Some people tend to hold their breath or tighten their chest while trying to contract the pelvic floor muscles so you must know it is essential to relax and concentrate on contracting just the pelvic floor muscles. It is true that when properly performed, Kegel exercises have been shown to be 50-80% effective in improving urinary continence.