Many people may have heard the term “kegel” mentioned, whether from friends at the gym, a women’s happy hour or a baby shower. Many women (75%, studies show) don't fully understand how to do the exercise properly, and wonder, “what do kegel exercises do for the body?”
Kegel exercises are what stand between women and strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which directly impacts multiple areas of life, from fitness to sexual activity to pregnancy and birth. So, do kegels really work?
Let’s dive in to find out!
What is a kegel?
The kegel exercise was discovered in the late 1940s and is named after a German doctor who introduced the exercise. Dr. Kegel realized that his patients were suffering from weak vaginal muscles and needed a method to strengthen those vaginal muscles. He created a routine of isometric squeezing that worked to increase strength in the vaginal canal.
Isometric squeezing is the controlled contraction of a muscle without the use of weight resistance. As an example of isometric exercise, contract your bicep right now, without the help of movement or weight. You contract the muscle by tightening it. Kegel exercises work the same way, by contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor.
3 benefits of doing kegel exercises
Like any workout, you have to put in the time to get the benefits! Mayo Clinic recommends a 3x daily workout alternating between contracting for 10 seconds and relaxing equal time, repeating this process 10x.
In exchange for your dedication, what do kegel exercises do? When kegels are done properly and for the recommended amount of time, overwhelming benefits can be expected. According to decades of research, these benefits include:
Leakage reduction (or elimination)
Stronger pelvic floor muscles mean less urinary, fecal and gas leakage because the pelvic floor is able to hold up all the organs and support holding back urine or gas while supporting healthier bowel movements.
Organ prolapse treatment
Organ prolapse occurs when the organs start to descend and eventually start to fall out of the body. This is due to weak pelvic floor muscles. By keeping those muscles strong, all the organs are supported and kept in place. Kegels can also help reverse early degrees of prolapse.
Improved sexual function
Strong pelvic floor muscles mean healthy blood flow to the muscles, which increases natural lubrication. By exercising the muscles, any laxity over time can be reduced just like any other muscle in the body. The best part is that since an orgasm is a muscle contraction, the stronger the muscles, the stronger the orgasms!
If you’re still wondering, “does kegel exercise really work?” read on to learn more about the improvements you can experience from incorporating this practice into your routine.
How do you know if kegels are working?
It's not easy to understand how to do a kegel, or even what kegel exercises do for the body, as Mum Warrior shares in her video. You have to isolate the pelvic muscles, which is hard to do when they're weak. Starting out, your already strong glutes, thighs and abdomen will want to jump in and take over. If this sounds complicated, you're not alone.
It may take a while to get the hang of kegel exercises. But, trust us, the results are worth it. Some may start to see results after a few weeks of consistent kegel exercises. There are lots of signs that indicate your kegel exercises are working. Women of all ages shared their experiences using kegelbell. Some of the many improvements included:
- Improved bladder control
- Strengthening of the pelvic region before birth
- Ability to train harder without leakage
- Better pelvic floor health after birth
- Enhanced sexual experience for both partners
Because a majority of women have weak pelvic floor muscles, the addition of kegel exercises leads to improvements in multiple areas of life.
How long does it take on average for kegels to work?
So, do kegels really work? Yes! But it can take up to 12 weeks to build new muscle fibers and strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which means focus and consistency are key to results. It can also take longer (5+ months) to see significant results, depending on the level of muscle strength/weakness you’re beginning from. As with any workout, patience, persistence and self-love is the key to success.
Do kegels ever not work?
When properly done in the proper form and frequency, kegels will work for the vast majority of women. There is a small subset of women for whom kegel exercise will not be helpful given chronic underlying muscle tension or injury that would first need to be addressed with the help of a physical therapist before a kegel practice can be practiced effectively.
Social stigmas around kegels
While many doctors recommend kegel routines to their patients, there are still many doctors who don't emphasize the importance of the routine to their patients. A recent study by doctors at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that only 5.8% of clinic websites offer advice on how to treat sexual dysfunction even though kegels are well known to successfully treat many forms of sexual dysfunction. In light of this, it’s no surprise why so many women wonder, “do kegels really work?”
Some physicians suffer from the same taboos and sexual inhibitions, as do many people in our culture. In fact, the internationally renowned Mayo Clinic makes numerous references to the significant health benefits of kegel exercise in their online medical guide (partial list below,) which spells out the many distinct reasons why kegel exercises support women’s health. Yet the Mayo Clinic does not list kegel exercise as a treatment for sexual dysfunction, which is a curious oversight given the research confirming the link.
Introducing Kegelbell, the Super Kegel
Kegelbell was created out of frustration from trying other vaginal strengthening solutions on the market that are oddly painful like electroshock TENS devices, or if weights, they were too light for efficient strengthening. Kegels really work, but they’re limited to just the isometric squeeze.
That’s why we created Kegelbell, which pairs the science of kegels with the strength of weight training. Kegelbell is slender and comfortable with the weight on the outside of the body, so you can quickly and comfortably add more weight and increase the challenge to achieve your maximum strength.
Increased strength and tone will greatly improve prevention from pelvic floor weakness and give you back the confidence you need to live your life to the fullest.