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A Refresher Course on the Benefits of Kegels

A Refresher Course on the Benefits of Kegels

Dr. Arnold Kegel first developed and wrote about this pelvic floor exercise in 1948. While both men and women can practice the exercise for different reasons, it is more commonly associated with women and is often introduced during pregnancy as a way to strengthen the pelvic floor, both to help with labor and delivery, as well as reduce urinary incontinence after childbirth.

While you can discreetly practice “Kegels” at any time, there is a bit of an art to doing the exercise correctly. The first step is to identify the correct muscles. An easy way to do this is to try stopping urination midstream. If you can do it successfully, you’ve identified the correct muscles. While you can use this technique to learn correctly identify your pelvic muscles, do not make a habit of trying to stop urinating midstream. It can weaken your muscles, and may lead to not emptying your bladder completely, which is a common cause of bladder infections.

Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles you can begin the practice by tightening these muscles for five seconds and then relaxing them, before tightening them again for five seconds and relaxing. Do this five times in a row. It’s important to focus on just tightening your pelvic muscles, not your thighs, buttocks, or abdomen. Focus on breathing freely and not holding your breath.

As you get stronger you will want to build up to tightening your pelvic muscles for 10 seconds and then relaxing for 10 seconds and repeating the exercise 10 times.

If you are having any trouble mastering the technique, don’t be afraid to talk with your AOA physician, who can help you learn to isolate and exercise your pelvic muscles correctly. Making these exercises part of your daily routine can help improve urinary incontinence and may have the added benefit of helping women who have difficulty reaching orgasm.

Learn more about Kegel exercises and the benefits of strengthening your pelvic floor: