kegel are exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor (better referred to as levator ani) muscles which are comporised by pubococcygeus, ileococcygeus and puborectalis muscles. For convenience, they will be simply referred to as PC muscles throughout this article.
These particular muscles are very important because they hold and support the internal organs found in our hips such as the bladder, uterus and rectum. During micturition and sexual intercourse, PC muscles work in unison to ensure the proper function of the bladder for urination as well as playing a vital role in the ability to become aroused. Therefore, kegel workouts have become increasingly popular and their validity has solidified its presence among its practitioners.
How to perform kegel
Now that we understand why strengthening PC muscles can be beneficial, lets dive into actually performing kegel exercises. kegel exercises consists of rhythmic contractions of the PC muscles; no equipment required. They can be performed wherever and virtually anytime because all that is needed is to contract your PC muscles, hold for a couple seconds, release contraction and then repeat. A few minutes a day of kegel is recommended. Patience should be exercised since reaping the real benefits can take between 4 weeks to multiple months depending on the individual and consistency of daily practice.
But how do you identify which muscles to contract? A simple way to do this is to halt urination mid stream. If you succeeded, you just found the right group of muscles. Focus on the feeling of contraction causes and you will be able to contract these very same muscles anytime throughout the day. Please note that interrupting urination should not be used to practice kegel, it should only be viewed as a way to identify the target muscles in question. Another method to identify the PC muscles is to insert a finger (or a vaginal cone provided by your gynocologist) into your vagina and attempt to squeeze it. If you find it too difficult or unable to do so, it is indicative of a dystrophic PC.
Who can benefit most from kegel exercises?
Women who are expecting and women post-partum should add kegel to their daily routine. The pelvic floor layout has a half oval shape of sorts and the PC could be weakened due to the physical trauma of birth. With a weakend pelvic floor, the ability for some women to experience pleasurable intercourse also diminishes so it makes sense to tone this influential group of muscles to prepare for delivery or for mitigating post partum muscular dystrophy.
Men and women suffering from urinary incontinence might benefit from kegel since it has been shown to mitigate its symptoms. Urinary incontinence is defined as the loss of control, to varying degrees, of urination. For instance, urine leakage that might occur during and after pregnancy; a common occurrence, and can make the later months post-partum a more comfortable experience in general. There are several types of incontinence and Kegel exercises can be helpful for some of them; its always wise to consult with your doctor to see if Kegel exercises would help your incontinence associated symptoms.
Prevention of a uterine prolapse is another advantage in the case for kegel exercises. A prolapsed uterus describes a condition that occurs when a woman’s uterus has displaced downward through the cervix towards the vaginal canal. A uterine prolapse is less likely to occur in women with toned pelvic floor muscles. Women who have normal vaginal delivery and postmenopausal women are at higher risk of developing uterine prolapse according to some research. Women with a demanding heavy lifting profession such as delivery or manufacturing have an increased risk of experiencing a uterine prolapse and many women in the industry today are consciously adding it to their daily routine.
Sexually active women should seek adding kegel to their daily routine since PC muscles are also responsible for the contractions women feel during climax. Though Kegel exercises don’t actually tighten the vagina, they strengthen vaginal muscles, which is believed to boost arousal. They also allow for a tighter grip during intercourse and more intense contractions during orgasm because additional blood is sent to the pelvic region. As women age, muscles tend to lose tone and become weaker and the vaginal muscles are not exempt. Kegel exercises can minimize this decline.