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What Are Kegel Exercises?
A Kegel exercise is a seminal pelvic floor exercise, consisting of locating and contracting your pelvic floor muscles in slow, steady repetitions. American gynecologist Arnold Kegel developed Kegel exercises in 1948, after noting how childbirth weakened his patients’ pelvic floors. Performing routine Kegel exercises can increase bladder control and sexual function, and reduce the chances of pelvic organ prolapse.
3 Benefits of Kegels for Men
Kegel exercises, and pelvic floor muscle training in general, can offer a wide variety of benefits:
- Increased bladder and bowel control: The pelvic floor muscles are directly responsible for controlling urine and bowel movements. If these muscles are weak, you’re more likely to experience constipation, an overactive bladder, urinary incontinence (especially due to an enlarged prostate or to recover from prostate surgery), fecal incontinence, difficulty controlling flatulence, or urine leakage from forceful activities such as a sneeze, cough, or laugh (called “stress incontinence”). Strengthening your pelvic floor through Kegel exercises can improve your bowel and bladder control and continence.
- Reduced chances of prolapse: Pelvic organ prolapse is a health condition in which the pelvic floor muscles are so weak that they can’t support the pelvic organs (the bladder and rectum). During a pelvic organ prolapse, one or more of the pelvic organs fall below the pelvis floor, creating a bulge. Since Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic muscles, they can help prevent the muscles from becoming too weak and allowing prolapse.
- Increased sexual health: Kegel exercises can help you develop and strengthen the bulbospongiosus muscle, which contributes to sexual functions such as erection, orgasm, and ejaculation. Healthcare professionals sometimes recommend Kegels to help reduce erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation.
If you’re experiencing incontinence, sexual dysfunction, or pelvic pain, seek medical advice through a certified healthcare provider, pelvic health specialist, urology clinic, or physical therapist. They can give you additional health information and can identify if Kegel exercises are right for your health.
How to Do a Kegel
Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you perform your first Kegel:
- Find a comfortable position. You can perform Kegel exercises almost anywhere and in any position—whether you’re sitting or lying down, in the car, or at home on the couch. To do Kegels, simply find a comfortable position. However, avoid doing Kegel exercises when urinating since stopping the flow midstream can cause some urine to remain in your bladder, putting you at a higher risk of urinary tract infections (UTIs).
- Locate the correct muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, try to contract the muscles you use to stop urination midstream, hold in flatulence, or raise your penis vertically (a helpful command is to “shorten the penis”). When you contract the right muscles, it should feel like lifting or pulling in your pelvis or sphincter. Avoid engaging your abdominal or gluteal muscles, crossing your legs, or holding your breath.
- Contract, hold, and release. Contract your pelvic floor muscles (it might help to imagine holding in urine or flatulence). Hold the contraction and count to five. Release these muscles (it may help to imagine restarting the flow of urine or passing gas) and count to five.
- Repeat. Repeat this movement 10–15 times, up to three times per day for best results.