Kegels: Fact or fiction?
Growing up as a child of the ’90s and early 2000s, Kegels were a staple of pop culture. Samantha Jones did them while at brunch, and Cosmopolitan preached their benefits. As it became trendy to do these pelvic floor exercises, the rise in Kegels seemed to fit in with the career woman of the early aughts. She really can have it all! At the same time! A high-flying career, a romantic partner, and a strong pelvic floor! And yet we were left wondering, are Kegels actually good for you?
So, what’s the deal with Kegels?
First recognized in 1948, Kegels are exercises to strengthen and improve the function of your pelvic floor muscles. These exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training, help to provide support to your bladder, uterus, small intestine, and rectum.
For Kegels to be beneficial for your pelvic floor, you have to find ways to strengthen the muscles as well as relax them — just like with any other muscle in your body.vaginal-health-probiotic
Samantha Jones and Cosmo were definitely onto something because Kegels can be helpful, particularly if you struggle with urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor problems. Those who may benefit from strengthening their pelvic floor include women who are pre or postpartum or may have recently had surgery.
Kegels can also be a useful tool for sexual pleasure; they can help to relax your vaginal muscles, which can let your vagina be more open. This can be particularly useful if you have pain or discomfort during penetrative sexual intercourse or pelvic exams. Additionally, Kegels can also improve blood circulation to your vagina and pelvic floor, which can help to increase sexual arousal.
How to do Kegels
In order for Kegels to be effective, the key is to do them correctly by engaging the right muscles.uti-daily-protection-supplement
To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination midstream, or imagine that you are stopping urination midstream. If you’re having trouble identifying the correct muscles, chat with your primary health care physician about how you can identify, isolate, and strengthen the area.
Once you’ve found your pelvic muscles, it can help to imagine that you are sitting on a marble and start to tighten as if you’re lifting the marble. When your pelvic floor muscles are contracted or tightened, keep them that way for 3 to 10 seconds. Breathe in, then breathe out as you release your muscles and keep them relaxed for 6 to 10 seconds.
How often should I do Kegels?
The frequency of doing Kegels may be where pop culture got it wrong. We should not Kegel all the time: the exercise is most effective if you do at least 3 sets of 10-15 repetitions daily.
If you constantly do Kegels, your muscles can fatigue, and it will be that much harder for them to do what contract and relax when they need to. Overdoing it can lead to your pelvic floor muscles being too tight.
Think of it as similar to your arms after doing a set of push-ups. When you work your arms too hard, they may give up, and you might find yourself on the ground with limited capacity to push yourself back up. Since your pelvic floor muscles do incredibly important work as you go about your life, it’s important to give them a break, too.
What to keep in mind
If you do decide to start doing Kegels, be aware of how many you do in a day, and think of them as a deep breath. You can inhale, but when you exhale, try to mindfully let go and let your entire body relax. Intersperse periods of Kegels with periods of rest for your body.
While one set of Kegels may not transform you into Samantha Jones, they can be a useful tool for improving the health and function of your pelvic floor. It can help you be more open and aroused with a sexual partner, increase your comfort during a wellness exam, and can also be a tool to utilize throughout each stage of pregnancy to help with potential incontinence after birth.