Kegel exercises are unheard of by many women and yet they may benefit women’s health in a variety of ways. What are they? Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen all the muscles that support your urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum.
In the 1940’s, Dr. Arnold Kegel, a gynecologist, recommended these exercises for his patients to avoid stress incontinence after childbirth. Thus, the name, Kegel exercises persists today.
Women often have problems with stress incontinence in the time after childbirth as well as in older age, and Kegels really help keep that in check and even prevent it, since the muscles controlling the urine flow are in shape.
Kegel exercises can also increase circulation to vital areas of your system such as the rectum and the vagina, both of which may become more functional and healthier since blood contains oxygen, and oxygen essentially breathes life into any living body part or organism. Makes sense, right. For women who are pregnant, Kegel exercises can speed healing from an episiotomy done during childbirth. Also, Kegel exercises can reduce the chance of developing hemorrhoids from childbirth.
A Kegel exercise consists of a squeezing and lifting action of your vaginal wall muscles. While doing a Kegel exercise, do not tighten your tummy, buttocks or leg muscles. Hold the Kegel exercise for about 10 seconds then relax for a few seconds.
The exercises need to be done in sets of ten, anywhere from three to four times per day, and more would be better, but you certainly don’t want to be doing them all day. When you first start, just do a few at a time, several times a day, then work your way up to sets of ten.
Kegel exercises will assist a pregnant woman to have an easier delivery as the pelvic floor muscles will be more toned. The likelihood of tearing during delivery will be reduced.
While sitting on the toilet, try to stop the flow of your urine in midstream. This is a variation of the Kegel exercise that is very powerful, and can really be a convenient way to do the exercise, completely privately. If you can do this, these muscles are in good condition. If not, try doing Kegel exercises, and you will see a difference.
To do Kegel exercises correctly, think of them as “winking” your vagina. Another way to “tone the pelvic floor”, which is essentially what the Kegels accomplish, is to change your body position each time you perform the exercise. Try doing Kegel exercises while lying down, sitting up, squatting and on all fours.
Kegel exercises can help women at other times in life than just while they are pregnant. They can make sex with your partner more enjoyable at any time, not just during the postpartum phase.
These infamous exercises also may help women prevent or reduce the risk of developing stress incontinence (urinary issues, not just a weak bladder), an overactive bladder which can be a major nuisance, and a prolapsed uterus. If you perform these simple, discreet exercises, you, like other women who do kegel exercises regularly, may come to report better and stronger orgasms as well and be one of the “lucky ones” who can more easily achieve orgasm, a somewhat elusive creature for some women.
Later in life, after menopause, Kegel exercises done as a routine from midlife on, can increase vaginal wall thickness and lubrication. Think the urinary benefit is good enough alone to start Kegels? Well, Kegels also are known to help prevent rectal incontinence, which can be an even worse and more embarrassing problem than urinary incontinence.
It will usually take about 3 or 4 weeks to see an improvement in stress incontinence from a routine of Kegel exercises.