The many benefits of Kegel exercises
Drink lots of water, eat your vegetables—and do your Kegels!
Exercising your pelvic floor muscles is good for not only sex and powerful orgasms, but also for disorders like urinary incontinence as well.
If you are a runner, a yogi or a gym goer—it is likely that you’ve given most of your muscles the attention they desire. But there’s one group of muscles you are probably missing.
Pelvic floor muscles are vital, not only for supporting organs, but they also have a big impact on our sex lives. Including the pelvic bone, pelvic organs (bladder, anus and, in women, the uterus), nerves, ligaments and blood vessels—the pelvic floor’s muscles are key for agility control and endurance during intercourse. Over time, we inevitably experience weakening in these muscles.
It is important to keep these muscles strong, not only for better sex, but for easier delivery and recovery in child-birth and to prevent pelvic floor disorders. These disorders include urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse—which is when a pelvic organ, like your bladder, drops and pushes against the walls of the vagina. This can result when the pelvic muscles become weak.
For women, bladder incontinence is common after giving childbirth. Re- searchers have estimated that nearly a third of women experience tearing in the pelvic floor muscle tissue while giving birth. A study in the journal Neurology and Urodynamics found that out of 363 women, a similar percentage of women who had vaginal deliveries and Caesarean sections developed urinary incontinence after giving birth.
In the 1940’s, Dr. Arnold Kegel established an exercise to help women who had urinary incontinence. Known today as “Kegel” exercises, these exercises provide a wide range of benefits for women—including stronger bladder control and better sex.
“Vaginal sensation is felt with pressure and deep touch more than light sensations. Sexual pleasure comes from the movement and build-up of friction against the vaginal walls,” says Amanda Savage, physiotherapist and spokesperson for the Professional Network of Pelvic, Obstetric and Gynaecological Physiotherapists.
“The vaginal walls are layered with the pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor muscle exercises tone and strengthen these muscles, improving blood supply and nerve activity, all leading to greater pleasure,” says Savage. “Many women report they are able to reach orgasm more easily and that their orgasms are more powerful after focussing on pelvic floor muscle exercises.”
Pelvic floor muscles kick in when we sneeze, pass wind or feel that our bladder might leak. By practicing short, powerful squeezes, the strength of our pelvic floor muscles can be heightened.
When doing Kegel exercises, it is important to do so with an empty bladder. Aim to hold your contractions for three seconds and then release. The feeling should be similar to holding in your urine and then letting go.
Once you have the hang of the technique, try doing three sets of
10 repetitions each day while performing routine tasks.
Melinda Fontaine, DPT at The Pelvic Health & Rehabilitation Center in California, says “different muscle groups work with the pelvic floor and you can get a little extra power by using other muscle groups at the same time.” For example, adding a Kegel exercise to something like the bridge pose can kill two birds with one stone, strengthening your pelvic floor and your glutes, both which play a large role in the bedroom.
Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is not only going to make you feel more confident in the bedroom, but if you suffer from something like urinary or fecal incontinence, doing Kegels can make a huge difference in your day-to-day life.
More Insight: Check out this great article on how to overcome obstacles in the bedroom.
Author: Charmaine Millaire was a previous editor for Optimyz Magazine. She is a graduate of King’s School of Journalism in Nova Scotia.