A Guide to Kegel Exercises

Medically Reviewed By Danielle Hildreth, CPT
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Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This can help you have more control over your bladder and bowel. It may also help improve your sexual health. This article will define Kegel exercises and their uses. It will also give you a step-by-step guide on how to properly perform them.

What are Kegel exercises?

Female's hands on her stomach
Eloisa Ramos/Stocksy United

Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, are a simple way you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

These are the hammock-like muscles that stretch from the front of your pelvis to the back. They support your bladder, rectum, and uterus. Your pelvic floor muscles help you control the release of urine, stool, and gas.

There are many factors that can weaken the muscles in your pelvic floor. These include:

Kegel exercises are not always suitable for everyone, however. In some cases, pelvic disorders already cause the pelvic muscles to be overactive. Practicing Kegel exercises can make this worse.

If your pelvic muscles are constantly in a heightened state, this can make it more difficult to respond when you actually need to contract them, as they are already fatigued.

If you have any concerns or feel any pain when performing Kegel exercises, contact your doctor.

What are the uses of Kegel exercises?

There are many benefits to performing Kegel exercises regularly. One of the main uses of Kegel exercises is to improve incontinence. This is when you have difficulty controlling your bladder or bowel.

Kegel exercises are also helpful in relieving the symptoms of certain conditions, such as bladder prolapse.

Other common uses for Kegel exercises are to improve sexual health and increase pleasure. They can help improve your sexual health by:

  • relaxing your vaginal muscles
  • improving blood circulation to your vagina and pelvic floor
  • making it easier to orgasm
  • improving vaginal lubrication

Even if you are not experiencing any issues associated with weakened pelvic floor muscles, you can still do Kegel exercises regularly. This can help maintain the strength in those muscles and reduce your risk of issues later on.

To read more about sexual health, visit our hub.

How do you identify your pelvic floor muscles?

A common issue people have with Kegel exercises is knowing whether or not they are doing them properly.

This begins with identifying your pelvic floor muscles, which is often the most difficult part of Kegel exercises. In order to identify your pelvic floor muscles, try the following.

Imagine you are urinating

Contract your muscles as though you are stopping your urine stream. However, do not actually practice this while mid-stream. This can lead to a weakening of the muscles, failure to empty your bladder completely, and urinary tract infection (UTI).

Act like you are holding back a bowel movement or gas

Contract your muscles in the same way you would if you were holding back a bowel movement or preventing gas from escaping. Do not use the muscles in your bottom, inner thighs, or abdomen to do this.

If done correctly, your body should not lift up. If you feel your body lift at all, you are most likely contracting your butt muscles and not your pelvic muscles.

Insert a finger into your vagina

Insert a finger into your vagina. Contract your pelvic floor muscles around your finger. As you squeeze, you should feel tightening of your vagina around your finger and your pelvic floor move upward.

It is important to not use your butt or abdominal muscles while doing Kegel exercises. Exercising these muscles will not help you strengthen your pelvic muscles.

Try placing your hand on your abdomen and tightening your pelvic floor muscles. If you feel your stomach muscles tensing, you are not using the right muscles. Also, if you feel your butt or thigh muscles tightening and your body come up off the chair, you are using the wrong muscles.

If you feel you are having trouble finding the right muscles, contact your doctor. They can help you identify your pelvic floor muscles.

To read more about female health, visit our hub.

How do you do Kegel exercises?

Once you have identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can begin to do Kegel exercises. The method can take a bit of getting used to and some practice. However, once you learn how to do it properly, you can do Kegel exercises anywhere.

You can do Kegel exercises either sitting, standing, or lying down. Doing some sort of combination of these positions regularly is often the most beneficial and makes the muscles the strongest.

To do Kegel exercises sit, stand, or lie down, and then:

  1. Find your pelvic floor muscles and tighten them.
  2. Try to hold them tight for 3 seconds.
  3. Release the muscles and relax your pelvic floor completely.
  4. Repeat this process.

You should aim for 10–15 repetitions each time you do the exercises. You can start off slowly by only doing five repetitions the first time and adding more each time after that.

You can add Kegel exercises into your daily routine. Try to do three full sets of 10 or more repetitions each day. Doing them regularly is the only way to truly benefit from Kegel exercises.

These exercises should not be painful in any way. If you feel any pain while doing Kegel exercises, contact your doctor.

Learn seven hints for better bladder control.

How long does it take to see results from Kegel exercises?

As with any type of exercise, it can take time to notice the changes after doing Kegel exercises. You may not see any changes to your bladder control for 3–6 weeks.

Keep doing the exercises regularly and you will feel the results. You should continue to do them even after you notice a difference.

When the Kegel exercises start to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles you may notice:

  • longer times between visits to the bathroom
  • fewer leaks
  • the ability to sleep without interruption
  • the ability to do more repetitions and hold them for longer
  • increased sexual pleasure and stronger orgasms

Summary

Kegel exercises are typically helpful to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.

It can take time and practice to be able to properly perform the exercises. However, once you learn the method, you can do them anywhere.

In around 3–6 weeks, you should begin to feel the benefits of the Kegel exercises. This may include better control over your bladder, fewer leaks, and even increased sexual pleasure.

If you have any concerns or questions about Kegel exercises or finding your pelvic floor muscles, contact your doctor.

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Medical Reviewer: Danielle Hildreth, CPT
Last Review Date: 2022 May 30
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