Kegel exercises are a great way for women to regain strength in pelvic floor muscles that have weakened over time. When performed properly, kegel exercises can prevent pelvic organ prolapse and eliminate frustrating urinary “accidents.” Even better, kegels can put the "Whoa!" back in your sex life, sending your self-confidence into the stratosphere where it belongs.
But as with any other muscle-toning exercise, proper form and precise control are key to a positive outcome. Just as improper form and misalignment during lunges or squats can wreck your knee, doing kegels incorrectly can do your lady bits more harm than good.
There are also some conditions that can’t be resolved with kegel exercises, no matter how carefully they are performed. Furthermore, there are some situations where kegels can cause more problems than they resolve.
But take heart, sisters. Kegels CAN be a simple solution to a host of common problems—if you know what you are doing. In this piece, we’ll answer the “can kegel exercises be harmful?” question that’s on your mind and drop some knowledge about your nether regions along the way.
Read on and learn how to target the precise muscles you need to strengthen to make your vajayjay happy—not hurting.
Common Myths and Concerns About Kegel Exercises for Women
Kegels are well known in urological and gynecological circles. These helpful exercises are frequently prescribed by physicians to address urinary incontinence, early-stage pelvic organ prolapse, and decreased sexual desire and lubrication.
Despite all of this, and despite the best efforts of WebMD and Dr. Google, there are still a lot of misconceptions floating about when it comes to kegel exercises:
1. Kegels are only for women
Not true! Men have also been shown to regain control of urinary function with regular kegel exercises, and there may be some improvement in sexual function for the guys as well. Hence, the benefits are definitely not gender-specific.
2. Kegels are only for women who have given birth
While kegels are often recommended to help women regain pelvic tone after childbirth, they can help women of all ages and childbearing status improve sexual function and eliminate urinary incontinence.
3. Kegels don’t accomplish much
Volumes have been written about the benefits of improving pelvic floor muscle tone via a regular kegel exercise routine, so this is just patently untrue.
4. Kegels are only useful in resolving urinary leak issues
Another falsehood. One of the lesser-known benefits of pelvic floor muscle training is improved vaginal lubrication and increased strength and frequency of orgasms.
5. There is only one true way to perform kegels
While it is true that there are very specific muscles used when performing kegel exercises, there are different ways of helping women know they are doing them properly, and different tools that allow a gradual improvement in strength.
The biggest misconception may be that kegel exercises are easy to do and that anyone can do them anywhere, anytime and reap tremendous benefits. Believe it or not, it is easier to perform them improperly; learning proper form, timing and frequency takes some practice.
Women are not routinely taught how to do them—kegels were never part of the “Becoming a Woman” booklet they used to hand out in 5th grade. As a result, up to 30% of women clench their abdominal, inner thigh or gluteal (buttock) muscles instead, and reap no benefit at all.
When Are Kegel Exercises Harmful?
Kegels are so mainstream now that it can be surprising to realize that there are some situations where they would not be the treatment of choice. When it comes to the question, “can kegel exercises be harmful?” there are a few situations where the answer is yes.
1. When you perform kegels while urinating
Conventional (and Internet) wisdom suggests that women should perform kegels while urinating, stopping and restarting the flow midstream. That can be an interesting experiment, but it is not medically recommended because doing kegel exercises while urinating could cause the pelvic floor muscles to weaken even further and may eventually cause damage to the bladder and kidneys.
2. When you squeeze too tightly, or for too long
Using too much force can cause the vaginal muscles to over-tighten, which can lead to painful intercourse—the exact opposite of one condition the exercises are intended to resolve.
3. When your pelvic muscles are already too tight
Suppose your pelvic floor muscles are already too rigid. In that case, kegels can cause those muscles to become even tighter, which can cause a host of new problems in your pelvic region, namely increased urinary urgency and frequency and potentially more pain during sex.
Signs of Overdoing Kegel Exercises
So how do you know if you are overdoing the kegel exercises, or doing them incorrectly? Signs of overdoing kegels include:
- You feel your abdominal or buttock muscles moving
- You see no improvement in symptoms, even after months of treatment
- You experience more or new pain during sex
- You experience an increase in urinary urgency and frequency
The movement is actually very small and is definitely NOT an abdominal clench-fest. Imagine sitting on a marble and trying to pick it up with just your vagina; the movement is THAT slight, going up and in from a full range of motion from totally relaxed to sucking up and in again.
As with any other exercise routine, it is recommended that women consult with their physician before starting a kegel routine, especially women with pelvic floor symptoms such as urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, or painful intercourse.
When are Kegel Exercises Beneficial?
Kegel exercises are great for women looking to put the "Woah!" back in their sex lives, or as prescribed by a physician to address minor urinary incontinence or early-stage pelvic organ prolapse. For women suffering from more serious pelvic issues, kegels can be harmful, and a physician will prescribe more appropriate treatments for those conditions.
Strong pelvic floor muscles are beneficial to overall health, and kegel exercises are a proven way of keeping those muscles toned and flexible. But you don’t want to overtax your vag, so it is good to be aware of the signs that you are overdoing it with the kegel exercises and clenching more than you should.
Take all the guesswork out of kegels with Kegelbell.
Our silicone insert sits just inside the vagina, allowing you to feel exactly which muscles to tighten, with relaxing as much as squeezing so that you have a healthy full range of motion. Our series of external weights provides an added challenge to gradually strengthen your pelvic muscles. Make pelvic floor training a regular part of your exercise routine—with The Vagina Gym from Kegelbell. Here’s to a happy hoo-ha!