What Do Kegel Exercises Do?
Even while you are young, it is common to hear about the importance of keeping your muscles strong. You may read about a variety of muscle groups that are the most important. While you might not think often about your pelvic floor muscles, you may have heard of Kegel exercises to strengthen them. Kegel exercises have a variety of benefits and may be simple for you to do on your own. If you have ever wondered, “What do Kegel exercises do?” this guide should answer most of your questions.
What Are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises act to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles hold up the organs of the pelvis. In women, this includes the bladder, uterus, vagina, large intestine and other organs. When women are young, the muscles might be stronger by default. They may have no trouble keeping these organs in place. As you age, you need to exercise those muscles to keep them fit. Kegel exercises are relatively simple and designed to help you strengthen the muscles.
You usually do not need any devices or equipment to do them, particularly once you learn how to do them correctly. Someone who is accustomed to doing Kegel exercises may be able to do them once or twice a day with ease.
What Are the Risks Associated With a Weak Pelvic Floor?
There are many conditions that women face that may cause a weak pelvic floor. These include aging, menopause, childbirth, surgery in the pelvic area and more. It is common for women to notice that they have trouble holding in urine when they sneeze or jump, particularly related to these common conditions. Difficulty retaining urine or gas are signs of a weak pelvic floor. If your pelvic floor muscles are not strong, you may notice the following effects:
- Lack of feeling during sex
Weak pelvic floor muscles are also associated with a higher risk of pelvic floor prolapse, when an organ such as the rectum, bladder or uterus sags into the vagina.
How Do You Do Kegel Exercises?
In many cases, you can figure out how to do Kegel exercises on your own. Go to urinate as normal, and tighten the muscles needed to make the flow of urine stop. This process is designed to isolate the muscles related to Kegel exercises. As a general rule, you should perform Kegel exercises with an empty bladder.
There are a couple types of Kegel exercises. The first involve tightening the muscles quickly, holding for a second or two, and releasing them. Keep breathing at an even pace throughout the process. Eventually, you can build up to the second type. This exercise has you holding the muscles for 10 seconds, with a 10-second rest. A set of 10 repetitions once or twice a day is ideal to maintain pelvic floor muscle strength.
What Are the Benefits of Kegel Exercises?
There are many benefits of Kegels for women, such as:
- Decrease in urinary incontinence
- Lower risk of pelvic organ prolapse
- Fewer effects of pelvic organ prolapse
- Increased feeling in the pelvic floor
Kegel exercises are designed to be performed regularly, daily for most people. Once you understand how to do them correctly, you can do them while resting in bed, sitting in a chair or in other positions.
What Are the Limits of Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises have a few limits that you should keep in mind while you do them:
- Avoid bearing down while performing the exercises.
- Focus on tightening the muscles of the pelvic floor, not the buttocks or thighs.
- Slowly increase the length of the hold and the number of repetitions, particularly if it feels difficult.
- Limit Kegel exercises to two or three repetitions of 10 each day, to avoid overworking the muscles.
Kegel exercises can feel like a workout, particularly at first. They should not create pain or heavy discomfort, however. If you are not sure that you are doing them correctly, or if you have other concerns, ask your doctor for advice.
When to Consider Pelvic Floor Therapy
Although many women find it fairly simple to do Kegel exercises, you may need additional support in some cases. Prolonged weakness of the pelvic floor muscles might make it difficult for you to learn how to do the exercises, particularly if you have reduced feeling in the area. It is not uncommon to want or need the assistance of a professional for pelvic floor therapy.
Pelvic floor therapy provides different methods to help you find the muscles you need to tighten, so that you can do the work on your own. A physical therapist working with you can make recommendations of devices that can help or use biofeedback to simplify the process. Pelvic floor therapy can also be a good tool for women who want to get better results from the Kegel exercises.
Kegel exercises provide you with a tool that you can use almost anytime or anywhere to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. FemiCushion is a device that can help minimize the effects of pelvic organ prolapse. Our products can serve as part of a comprehensive treatment plan, including pelvic floor therapy and other approaches.
Supervising Doctor of This Article
Koichi Nagao, MD PhD
Professor, Department of Urology, Toho University Faculty of Medicine
Director of Urinary tract reconstruction center, Toho University Omori Medical Center
Director of Reproduction Center, Toho University Omori Medical Center
Professor Nagao specializes in plastic surgery in the field of reproductive medicine. He completed eight years of plastic surgery training at Showa University before majoring in urology at Toho University. With his meticulous surgical techniques and careful examinations that combines urology and plastic surgery, Professor Nagao became a Board Certified Specialist with multiple associations including the Japanese Urological Association, the Japan Society for Reproductive Medicine, and the Japanese Society for Sexual Medicine.