What are Kegel Exercises and Do They Really Work?
Some women may have heard the term “kegel” mentioned in passing from friends at the gym, a women’s happy hour or a baby shower. Many women, however, have never been introduced to the concept, and certainly not educated on it. For such an important topic regarding women’s health, we’re on a mission to leave no woman behind when it comes to kegel exercises and building a strong pelvic floor. It’s critical to your health.
Here’s why: Kegel exercises strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which are responsible for a number of necessary bodily functions that keep a woman’s body healthy. A weak pelvic floor can result in any combination of the following issues: incontinence, a dysfunction where the bladder leaks urine; organ prolapse, when the pelvic organs fall causing any number of undesirable symptoms; vaginal dryness, vaginal looseness, and sexual discontent. Women need to become educated on this topic to improve their physical condition and for more enjoyable participation in physical activities in everyday life.
What is a Kegel?
A kegel is an exercise first introduced in the late 1940’s named after a German doctor of the same name. Dr. Kegel discovered that his patients were suffering from weak vaginal muscles and that they needed a method to strengthen those vaginal muscles. He created a routine of isometric squeezing that worked to increase strength in the vaginal canal. Medical studies from around the world have since verified the results many times over.
Isometric squeezing is the contraction of a muscle upon command 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. In a kegel exercise, you will be asking the muscles of the pelvic floor (think vaginal canal and the perineum) to contract. For this to be effective, a woman must spend a significant amount of time kegel exercising each day. The recommended kegel exercise routine from Mayo Clinic is as follows:
Contract the muscles of the pelvic floor and hold for 10 seconds and relax for an equivalent time. Repeat this process 10 times, at least 3 times per day.
Decades of independent research studies confirm that exercising the muscles of the pelvic floor will treat and prevent incontinence (urinary, fecal, gas), organ prolapse (bladder, rectum, uterus), and sexual dysfunction (dryness, laxity, orgasm).
While some urologists, gynecologists, and urogynecologists recommend to patients a kegel exercise routine to treat and prevent any of the concerns mentioned above, many physicians never suggest kegel exercises to their patients at all. In fact, a recent study by doctors at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that only 5% 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.
One reason this proven solution is not mentioned is that 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.
Proper Kegel Technique
With the knowledge that kegel exercises work to solve pelvic floor dysfunctions, the next step is to get started with a kegel exercise routine. It is critically important to isolate the pelvic muscles, which is hard to do when they are weak. To begin gaining strength, you must be sure you are working out the weak muscles of and around the vagina and not the already strong glutes, thighs and abdomen. Your stomach and buttocks are eager to jump in and show off their strength when you try to kegel, so resist the urge to flex those muscles and concentrate on the elusive internal ones.
Kegel exercises are easy to explain, but hard to do. It’s not your imagination, and there is nothing wrong with you--they are just difficult to get right. Studies have shown that 75% of women cannot do a proper kegel contraction--not even one, let alone dozens all day. Those that think they are contracting the pelvic muscles when they aren’t will be frustrated by no results for their kegel exercising efforts. It is a fact, however, that with proper form, kegels work in fairly short order.
Not only can kegel exercises repair a weak pelvic floor, but the system used to practice kegels can make a vast difference in the time it takes to see results. To obtain results quicker, add resistance to your kegel exercise routine. Vaginal weights are a very effective method and provide feedback on how to perfect your form.
Kegelbell was created out of frustration from trying other vaginal strengthening solutions on the market that are oddly painful yet remain too light for efficient strengthening. 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 will give you back the confidence you need to live your life to the fullest.
Lift it. Love it. #kegelbell