Photo source: @kimanami
By Jessica Webb
Did you know it’s possible to strengthen a muscle without even breaking a sweat? What if I told you that you could do a full set of exercises in the bathtub, in an elevator, or even at your office desk?
These exercises are called kegels - and I’m doing them as I type!
Let’s start at the beginning. A kegel is actually a contraction of your pubococcygeneus (PC) muscle, which is located on your pelvic floor. Unfortunately, it tends to be out of sight out of mind.
So why should you be exercising your PC muscle?
This muscle supports the womb, your bladder, and your bowels. Over time, it can become weak by different experiences such as childbirth, weight gain, and aging. A weak PC muscle can lead to many different problems. However, kegels are not for everybody. Since your PC muscle is constantly working, it could be a bad idea to exert even more pressure on it. Always check with a doctor or gyno first!
Healthcare professionals recommend doing kegels for all kinds of conditions.
Urinary incontinence (defined as leakage at least once in the past year) just happens to be one of them. About 25 to 45 percent of women suffer from incontinence and this number only increases with age. I don't know about you, but I like to laugh–hard. If doing kegels could possibly prevent me from leaking pee the more I laugh and the older I get, I'm putting the exercise on my calendar.
To all the moms out there: your vagina has quite literally created a life. Of course it can take a toll on your body. Doctors commonly prescribe kegels to speed up vaginal recovery post-pregnancy. Why not give them a try?
If you’re not sure how to locate your PC muscle, there are a few tricks.
The next time you go pee, try stopping your flow mid-pee (it is not recommended that you do this often, as it can put you at higher risk for a UTI). You are using your PC muscle to stop the flow. It feels like a small clench and release.
If that doesn't work, try a different approach. Use your finger (make sure your hands are clean, obviously) and squeeze the muscles around it. If you feel compression around your finger, congratulations! You have located your PC muscle.
Once you understand how kegels work, you can literally do them anywhere. You don’t need a workout class or loud pump-up music to do them. It just takes a bit of concentration. You can do them in your office, at a restaurant, or even during those 10 second waits at a crosswalk. The convenience!
So, we're talking about an exercise with the sole purpose of making your pelvic floor stronger.
How does this play into your sex life?
When you have an orgasm, you will feel muscle in your vagina contract. This is your PC muscle. If you perform kegels regularly and correctly, the contraction can become much stronger and tighter. This alone can create a more intense orgasm (but it’s not always guaranteed). Strengthening these muscles has also been known to heighten arousal before and after sex. No painful workout and better orgasms? Sounds like a win-win, right?
Kegel exercises are not just for women.
Men have also commonly been prescribed kegels. The stronger you become, the more control you can have over ejaculation. Doing kegels can be a great starting point for men who want to control premature ejaculation.
It's hard to believe that such a discreet and easy exercise could result in such positive outcomes.
Kegel Workout Directions
Try doing sets of kegels like any other exercise. Relax for 3 seconds. Tense for 3 seconds. Relax. Tense. Relax. Tense. Do this 30 times while having your morning coffee. 30 more times while waiting in line to buy your lunch. Another 30 times while sitting in traffic on the way home from work. Make sure you focus on relaxing just as much as your focus on clenching! Both parts are equally important.
This subtle clench and release exercise can make all the difference. And, like most activities in life, it can be made fun with toys.
The Elvie is a sleek little device that slides up into your vagina to help you strengthen your PC muscle and build endurance. It connects to an app on your phone through Bluetooth and allows you to actually watch your PC muscles move!
More kegel trainers: