ARE KEGEL EXERCISES REALLY EFFECTIVE?
Kegel Exercises (Pelvic Floor Muscle exercises or Kegels) are a series of exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles work in coordination to support the pelvic organs including the uterus, bladder, vagina, small intestine and rectum.
These muscles help you to control your bladder and bowel. They also help in sexual function. Weakened pelvic floor muscles can result in urinary and fecal incontinence and Kegel exercises can control these conditions.
Pelvic Floor Muscle exercises are beneficial for everyone but particularly if you have:
- Fecal incontinence-involuntary loss of bowel contents
- Urinary incontinence-involuntary leakage of urine
WHAT CAUSES THE MUSCLES OF THE PELVIC FLOOR TO WEAKEN?
Stated below are a variety of reasons why the muscles of the pelvic floor can weaken
- Vaginal childbirth
- Natural aging process
- Prostate enlargement
- Prostate cancer treatments
- Excessive straining from constipation
- Strenuous exercise e.g. heavy weight lifting
- Surgery in the pelvic area
- Inflammatory bowel disease
A SIMPLE WAY TO DO KEGEL EXERCISE?
- Identify the pelvic floor muscles- to do this, tighten the muscles that keep you from passing gas or stop urination midway. Once you’re able to do this, you’ve identified your pelvic muscles. Feel free to do this exercise in whatever position you’re comfortable with.
- Perfect your method: Tighten your pelvic floor muscles and hold the contraction for three seconds. Try it for a few more times. Now try this in different positions.
- Focus on your pelvic muscles: Focus only on tightening your pelvic floor muscles. Breathe freely during your exercises. Make sure not to involve other muscles.
- Be consistent: Repeat this exercise three times daily.
BENEFITS OF KEGEL EXERCISES
- Better sexual experience- exercising the pelvic floor cavity increases blood flow to the pelvic region meaning improved lubrication, sexual arousal and orgasm. It makes the vagina feel tighter thus intensifying orgasms in women and men. Some men with erectile dysfunction also experience better erections after doing this exercise as strengthening can improve erections.
- Improved pelvic health during menopause-Fluctuating levels of the hormone estrogen during menopause can lead to a decreased muscle tone as well as reduced blood flow to the pelvic region. Kegels can help restore the normal tone of the pelvic floor muscles.
- Kegels can help recovery from childbirth- the pelvic floor muscles weaken from pregnancy and can be worsened after childbirth; be it via cesarean section or normal vaginal delivery. Even though they can heal by themselves just like any other muscles, Kegels can be done before, during and after pregnancy if contractions are not experienced. Kegels will however speed up the tightening and strengthening process.
- Kegels can improve symptoms of stress urinary and fecal incontinence-Kegels, when done properly and consistently can help improve stress urinary incontinence (bladder leakage that occurs as a result of strenuous exercises ,lifting heavy objects, or while coughing or laughing ) as well as fecal incontinence .
WHEN TO EXPECT RESULTS
In order to get results, you need to do these Kegels regularly. You can expect less frequent leakage as well as improved sexual experience within a few weeks to months. Men and women are however not advised to do Kegel exercises when they have a catheter inserted. You are allowed to do them only when you have them taken out and you have your doctor’s approval. Make it a daily routine. Remember, consistency is key.