Get a Grip on Kegel Exercises
By: Jacquetta Szathmari
What are Kegels and how can they impact your sexual wellness?
Kegels! Everyone is talking about them, but how do you them, and why are they so important to sexual health and well-being?
Simply put, Kegel exercises keep your pelvic floor strong. Also called pelvic floor exercises, Kegels are the rhythmic tightening, holding, and releasing of the pelvic muscles to strengthen the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor is a flat band of muscle and tissue that extends from the front of the pelvis to the back and has openings for the anus, vagina, and urethra, and both men and women have them.
A strong pelvic floor, or perineum, keeps your reproductive and excretory organs in place so that they can do their jobs and allows you to control the flow of urine and bowel movements. Strong pelvic muscles are also reported to result in more intense orgasms.
Kegels? Pelvic floor? Perineum? Orgasms? Say what now?
Don’t get lost in the terminology! It’s not as foreign as it all sounds. If you have ever stopped your flow mid-stream, held in your gas until a more opportune moment, or nipped a bowel movement in the bud when a co-worker entered the office bathroom, then congratulations, you have done a kegel.
So, why is a strong pelvic floor important?
A weak pelvic floor is bad news for your bladder causing pain and a loss of control that may lead to incontinence in both women and men. Incontinence is often linked with aging, but you do not have to be older to experience it, a weakened pelvic floor will do the trick. A sagging perineum can also lead to a pelvic organ prolapse (POP), in which the organs slip below where they should be. Or it might wreak havoc on your sex life, for example making it difficult for men to get and maintain an erection while at the same time promoting premature ejaculation. It’s a lose-lose for everyone.
Should I worry about my pelvic floor?
Physical stress on the pelvic floor arises from lifting heavy weights – not just in the gym, but any weight, from kids to bags stuffed with too many groceries. Pregnancy can also seriously weaken the entire region, as can prostate or gynecological surgery. Obesity is another culprit because a body can only hold up so much weight before it starts to sag. Super athletic women can also have problems, however, due to jumping and weight lifting, so no one is exempt. Hormonal changes (including menopause), aging, and related illnesses can also weaken the pelvic floor. Basically, everyone is at risk so better start the Kegels now!
Ok, So How Do You Kegel?
The good news is that you won’t need a gym or any fancy equipment to keep it tight. You can do Kegel exercises seated, standing, or lying down, fully clothed or in the buff. You can do them on the train or in a meeting or anywhere your pelvis takes you.
A good practice is to do your exercises twice a day, once in the morning and again in the evening. Since they take less than 5 minutes, you can easily fit them in when you wake up and just before bed. As with any exercise regimen, start slow with a low number of repetitions and work your way up adding more contractions as time passes.
The muscles you are going to contract and hold are the same muscles that you use to arrest the flow of urine. If you have a vagina, you can insert a finger to feel the muscles contract. This might help if you are curious or unsure. For those of you rocking a penis, you will contract the corresponding “stop pee” muscles but you may not be able to see evidence of this. Some of you will see movement, others will not as it depends on the person and the strength of the muscles.
Contract and hold for 3-5 seconds and then release. Once you’ve released, count to 10, then repeat. Try to repeat this 5 times, twice a day. Don’t be surprised if you can’t get past 3 or 4 seconds for a week or even two. Keep at it. If you need some extra motivation, consider that stronger pelvic muscles can translate to stronger orgasms as your new muscles will be providing stronger pulsations and contractions both you and your partner will enjoy.
The results are not instantaneous and it may take up to twelve weeks before you begin to see a difference. Your pelvic floor didn’t lose its strength in a week and it won’t get it back that quickly either.
Stay strong! Pelvic strong!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jacquetta Szathmari is a New York based writer and the founder of Dernier Mile, a boutique consultancy providing last minute and last mile solutions for your content-intensive, logistically complex, and totally unique creative projects.
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