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Kegel exercises: Why you should do them daily

If you don’t already include Kegel exercises in your daily fitness routine, now is a good time to start. Kegels are easy isometric exercises that keep your pelvic floor strong. Because Kegels work muscles inside your body, you can do them almost anywhere — without anyone knowing (which is kinda fun). No equipment is necessary, and the potential payoff is huge.

Regardless of your gender, your stage of life or the state of your health, Kegels are good for you!

What are Kegels?

Kegels contract and strengthen the muscles that support the pelvic floor. That’s the layer of muscles that reach from the pubic bone to the tailbone and support the rectum, urethra and abdominal organs (they also support a woman’s vagina).

Repeatedly tightening and relaxing these internal muscles makes them stronger. A strong pelvic floor makes it easier to control the flow of urine and of leaking stool, a problem for some people. Kegels can be part of pelvic floor rehabilitation, a non-surgical way to resolve issues with bladder control and urinary incontinence and pelvic discomfort.

A strong pelvic floor can also make a difference in sexual function — for women, better vaginal muscle tone and sensation. For men, improved erection and ejaculation.

Who Can Benefit Most From Kegel Exercises?

Nearly everyone can benefit from Kegel exercises, especially as they get older. Control of urine is an essential part of an active life, but aging tends to decrease bladder control. Kegels can benefit:

  • Women who are pregnant or have had children. Pelvic floor muscle training exercises were developed by obstetrician Arnold Kegel so pregnant women could maintain good urine control after giving birth. During pregnancy and after childbirth, as many as 70 percent of women have some problems with leaking urine when they sneeze, laugh or wait too long to go to the bathroom.
  • Older women. The pelvic floor often gets weaker with age, menopause or health problems, whether or not you’ve had children.
  • Men. Strengthening the pelvic floor can help those who have had prostate surgery or have an enlarged prostate gland. One study found that doing Kegels to strengthen the muscle that covers the bulb of the penis helped 40 percent of men to regain sexual function and 36 percent to improve it. Another 66 percent had less dribbling after urinating.
  • Overweight or obese people. The pressure of excess weight weakens the pelvic floor.
  • People who’ve had abdominal surgery or certain medical problems or medications. These may contribute to weak pelvic floor muscles (diabetes and Parkinson’s disease for example).
  • Children who have trouble staying dry at night. Kegels teach kids bladder control.

How to Do Kegel Exercises

Basic Kegels are pretty easy. To start, practice starting and stopping your urine while you’re using the toilet.

Follow these steps to perfect your technique.

  1. Get in a comfortable position standing, sitting or lying down.
  2. Tighten the muscles around your vagina and anus (or around your scrotum and anus) so it feels like you are lifting them. It should feel like you are trying to stop both pee and stool. Here’s an illustration showing how it works.
  3. Hold the contraction for a slow count of five while breathing normally and then relax.
  4. Repeat it 10 times.
  5. Then very rapidly squeeze and release the muscles 10 times in a row.

Repeat this series three times a day.

Click the link at the end of this article for more about Kegels.

When Should You Talk to Your Doctor

Pelvic floor exercises aren’t the only help for urinary incontinence, but they’re a great place to start. Your health care team can help if you’re not sure if you’re doing it right. If you aren’t getting the results you want even though you’re doing your daily Kegels, your doctor can discuss other options, which might include pelvic floor rehabilitation.

Learn more about Kegel exercises.

Meet the Author

Alexis M. Chesrow, MD is a Urologist at Lakeshore Medical Clinic in Franklin, WI.

Read more posts from this author

The information presented in this site is intended for general information and educational purposes. It is not intended to replace the advice of your own physician. Contact your physician if you believe you have a health problem.

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