Kegel exercises, named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, the gynecologist who invented them, have long been thought of as exercises for women. However they serve a purpose for men as well. The exercises, when performed correctly and practiced regularly, are an effective method for treating incontinence and improving sex lives.
How Kegels Work
Kegel exercises help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscle, also known as the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle. This is the muscle which supports the bladder and anus in both genders, as well as the vagina in women and urethra in men. For both men and women, strengthening this muscle can help treat and prevent urinary incontinence, while improving sexual performance.
The PC muscle in men not only control the bladder but also the flow of semen. When practicing Kegels regularly, a man may notice an improvement in his ability to control ejaculations and firmer erections.
Giving birth can cause the PC muscle in women to become weak, resulting in urinary incontinence and reduced sexual gratification. Performing Kegels will not only provide her with increased bladder control, but an increase in pelvic vascularity. This means there are more veins in the pelvic area, resulting in an increased blood flow to the vaginal region. Ultimately this leads to stronger orgasms and greater sexual satisfaction.
Find Your PC Muscles
Wait until you feel the need to urinate and then stop midstream. The muscle responsible for this is your PC muscle. Try doing this more than once to become familiar with its location and the feel of the muscle.
For men, the next option is to lay on your back and insert your finger into your anus. You then contract your muscle as though you are attempting to prevent yourself from passing gas. The muscle you feel tightening around your finger is your PC muscle. Women can do the same, except you need to insert your finger into your vagina. The muscle you feel tighten is your PC muscle.
The last option is for women only. Pretend there is a marble beneath you on the floor. Squat down as though you are going to pick it up using your vaginal muscle. The squeeze you feel will be the muscle you need to exercise using the Kegels.
Once you have located your PC muscle, begin exercising it slowly. Start by squeezing and holding it for a count of three, then relaxing for a count of three. Do this 10 to 15 times, which equals one set. Add another one or two to your count every other day or as you feel your muscle become stronger. Do this until you are squeezing and holding your muscle for a count of 10.
Consistency is the key to success with Kegel exercises. Finding the time to practice them should be a cinch since they can be done anywhere without anyone being the wiser. However, it may be helpful if you set specific times of the day to do them.
Do three sets a day, in the morning, the afternoon and the evening.
Isolate the Muscles
The purpose of identifying the PC muscle before you begin is to ensure you are exercising only that muscle when performing your Kegels. Be sure your thighs, abdominals and buttocks remain relaxed; if they are tightened during the exercise, it will result in minimal progress being made with the PC muscle. You also want to breathe normally throughout the exercises–muscles need oxygen to become stronger and your PC muscle is no different.