What Do Kegels Actually Do?


If you have a vagina, you have certainly heard jokes and references to kegels. Kegels are exercises that you can do to tighten your vag up! But is it really as sexual or as Goopy as it sounds (no offense, Gwyn!)? Are kegels real muscle-building exercise? Do kegels do anything at all or is this more bunk beauty science? Let’s investigate! 

kegel exercises

Source: healthline.com

Kegels were invented in the late 1940s by an American gynecologist named Arnold Kegel. He’s our kegel daddy! He developed these exercises to help people with bladder issues. But do they work? 

It turns out that kegels are, in fact, very good for you and for more reasons than simply ‘being tight’ downstairs for sex. Kegels are not just for women, either. Men can benefit from strengthening up their pelvic floor, too! Everyone has pelvic muscles, so why not strengthen them the way that we seek to strengthen any other muscle group in our body?

Before we get into some example kegels that you can try at home, let’s understand what they actually do. Kegels strengthen your pelvic floor which can get loose for a variety of reasons: lower-back pain, age, pregnancy and childbirth, surgery, constipation, pain during intercourse and others. How do you know if your pelvic floor needs to work on muscular strength? The quickest way to figure that out is with pee. If you leak a little bit of pee when you laugh, cough, or sneeze then you probably could benefit from kegels. If you also experience lower back pain or pain from urination or sex, you might benefit from trying kegels and seeing how that helps you. 

It is possible that none of that applies to you. If that’s the case, then you might already have a strong pelvic floor or you are already doing kegel-like exercises without even realizing it. As for the rest of us, let’s find some kegels that work for us! 

What do kegels actually do? 

How to do kegels:

  • Identify where your pelvic floor muscles are. The easiest way suggested for this is to stop urinating midstream – only do this so that you can feel your pelvic muscles when tensed. It is not advised that you do this repeatedly or use this as a kegel exercise because stopping urination midstream on a full bladder like that can lead to urinary infections because you might not efficiently empty the bladder entirely. Just do this in order to feel where your muscles are. OR envision tightening up your vaginal muscles around a tampon. Pretend that you are squeezing around said tampon. Do you feel that? Those are your pelvic muscles.
  • Now align your body to find your technique. Doctors advise imagining that you are sitting on a marble. Tightening your pelvic muscles around the marble as if you are trying to lift it up. Hold it for a moment. Try holding it for three secons and slowly relaxing your muscles for three more seconds. 
  • Focus on the pelvis. Avoid using your abs or thighs when doing these exercises. Focus all of your attention and strength on the pelvis. This can be hard for any beginning, but the key is to literally visualize your pelvis doing all of these things. Really feel what it is like for your pelvis to workout like this and focus on maintaining and recreating that feeling. Doing a kegel, in any position, should feel like lifting your anus and vagina to tense up your muscles in between. You will lift, feel the tension, and then relax upon releasing your muscles. 
  • Repeat! After doing several reps, make sure that you repeat these. It is advised that you try to do three sets of 10 repetitions a day. As you grow stronger, you can increase to 15 and go from a few times a week to everyday. It’s like any other workout. It will be tiring and difficult at first, but as you grow stronger you will be able to do so much more. 

Kegel exercises are quite easy to do. You literally contract and relax those muscles repeatedly after locating them. You can do them, sitting, standing, laying down, or kneeling. If you need some help getting started, there are several youtube videos that will guide you through quick kegel workouts like this one. 

You can make kegels a daily part of your routine because you only have to do a few of them for it to start to work, but like any workout you do have to repeatedly do it to see results. Thus you can easily set aside 5-10 minutes to strengthen your pelvic floor a few times a week and you will be better off than if you did nothing at all. After a few weeks, you should notice results (like leaking urine far less often). 


Author: Stephanie Weber 

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