by: Amy Otis, BSN, RN
A kegel is the name of a pelvic floor exercise, named after Dr. Kegel who discovered the exercise in 1948. I call them “the invisible exercise”, since you can do them when no one else can tell. Kegels are a series of exercises which can help tighten up the pubococcygeal muscles (PC muscles). These originate from your pubic bone, go under your genitals and attach to your tailbone. Both men and women have them.
After pelvic surgery, pregnancy, or even as we age, these muscles lose their tone. This can result in a loss of bladder control, also called incontinence, a loose vagina, (especially after having a child), an inability to control ejaculation in guys, and a reduction of sexual pleasure for both men and women.
There are several ways to do kegel exercises. One method requires you to have a full bladder, sit on the toilet and start to urinate, then suddenly clamp down and stop the flow. Start and stop several times in a row. If you can’t cut off the flow of urine, but dribble on, you need to start kegel exercises for sure. From now on, every time you urinate start and stop all the way. This is often called “the faucet” and is a good indicator of your progress.
You can also do kegels right at your desk, even right now. Tighten your PC muscles and hold for a count of eight, then slowly release and repeat eight times. Yes, you can do these sitting at the computer or at your desk at work or school. (But don’t let that distract you from your teacher or boss). If you can’t make it to eight or ten in the beginning, use a lower number and do those until you build up to ten.
Another good time to do kegels, is when you are the passenger in a car. Every time you stop at a red light, do some, who will know but you.
Not only does this improve bladder control, but doing kegels regularly will improve your sex life. After doing kegel exercises, a woman will be able to clamp down and grip her partner’s penis increasing both their sexual pleasures. You men should notice an improvement in the 'intensity' of your erections and ejaculations. These exercises are also recommended for guys who experience premature ejaculation. While the penis is not a muscle, the increased muscle tone will improve blood supply resulting in firmer erections and also help a man to delay ejaculation. Kegels can also help prevent leaking urine when you sneeze or cough!
Like any other muscle group, you either “use it or lose it”. For honest answer about your sexual health see: