As a woman you may already have concerns about your vagina. After all, things just don’t seem to stay like they were down there when we were younger, or before having kids. But what’s a woman to do? How does a gal reverse the signs of aging and childbirth without expensive “cures” or surgeries?. Great news! There’s an answer for you out there already, and it’s been known to improve the health and fitness of women of childbearing years and older for centuries.
Most women have heard of the relatively popular exercises known as Kegel exercises. Maybe you’re unsure of exactly what they are, or what they can do for you, and maybe you’re a little embarrassed to ask at this point. Well that’s okay, because we’re going to shine a light on these wonderful exercises, and show you how they can help improve your vagina’s health, improve your sex-life, and make you a happier woman.
What Exactly Are Kegel Exercises?“Kegels” as they are commonly known, work by contracting and expanding your pelvic floor muscles through a number of squeezing exercises. The pelvic floor, also known as the pubococcygeal-or “PC”-muscles, run parallel to the perineum. Childbirth and aging cause these muscles to weaken. According to the University of Michigan Department of Urology, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can be beneficial to a number of medical conditions like urinary incontinence. There are a number of benefits to having strong pelvic floor muscles:
- Kegel exercises can increase your sexual pleasure, by increasing your sexual performance and allowing you to enjoy more intense orgasms. Your PC muscles are very close to your sex organs and they are part of the muscles that contract when you are aroused or are having an orgasm.
- Kegel exercises can stop mild urinary and/or fecal incontinence – you may that feeling that you are going to leak when you laugh or sneeze. The stronger your pelvic floor muscles, the more complete and tight your sphincter muscles can close. Be patient! It takes several weeks of doing Kegel exercises, at least three times a day, for you to see improvement. Research shows that more than 70 percent of women who do Kegel exercises regularly saw improvement, so just hang in there and be patient.
- The Mayo Clinic says that Kegel exercises can improve and stop pelvic organ prolapse from occurring, which is a condition where your organs move from their natural position to a lower place in the body. This condition is actually quite common. When you have stronger pelvic floor muscles, you can make sure your organs stay where they belong.
- Kegel exercises can make childbirth easier. Childbirth requires strong abdominal muscles, back muscles and thigh muscles. Childbirth will be easier because of the strengthening and conditioning of the muscles needed to push the baby out.
The Right Way to do your Kegel ExercisesWhen you decide to do Kegel exercises, first focus on determining where your pelvic floor muscles are. Only, then you can learn how to properly contract and relax these muscles.
- If you are not yet sure which muscles you are actually exercising when you do your Kegel exercises, stop urinating midstream and you will feel the muscles you are targeting.
- Do your Kegel exercises and have a hand mirror in front so you can see what’s going on. If you are doing the vagina exercises properly, your perineum (the skin that covers the area between the vagina and the anus) should be contracting with each of the reps you do. Another way to check that you are doing the exercises properly is to insert your finger in the vagina and squeeze the muscles. You should feel your muscles tightening.
- When you first start doing your Kegel exercise do 5 reps holding for 2 seconds and relaxing for 2 seconds. Your goal is to eventually be able to hold for 10 seconds and relax for 10 seconds. You Increase your reps until you can do at least 100 a day. That is not easy to accomplish. You should repeat at least 2 times a day (3 times is better) and each week you want to increase your hold time until you reach the 10 seconds. You can get creative about when you practice your Kegel exercises. For example, you can say that you do Kegel exercises every time you are stopped at a red light.
- It’s time to get into a comfortable position. You can do your Kegel exercises either lying on the floor or sitting in a chair. Make sure that you relax your tummy and buttock muscles. For the best results, you need to maintain your focus and make sure you are only tightening your pelvic floor muscles. Watch that you are not flexing the muscles in your abdomen, buttocks or thighs. Breathe freely during your exercises and make sure you aren’t holding your breathe.
- If you want to do a quick Kegel, you should squeeze the pelvic floor muscles and then release 10 times in a row. It will not take more than 10 seconds to do.
- If you want to do a slow Kegel, squeeze the pelvic floor muscles for at least 5 seconds and then release. Repeat 10 times.
- To do a pull in Kegel, pretend the pelvic floor muscles are a vacuum. Tense your buttocks and pull the legs up and in. Hold this position for at least 5 seconds and release for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 times in a row.
- Pretend you are attempting to stop the flow of urine – from the inside lift and squeeze, holding for a three count. Also, pretend you are trying to stop the passing of wind. Lift and squeeze the anus holding for a three count. Combine the two movements into one smooth movement starting from the front, lifting and squeezing. Do not let go, following through to your anus, lifting and squeezing. Relax and hold for 10 seconds – repeat.
- If you do not think you are doing your Kegel exercises correctly, ask your doctor to help you identify and then isolate the proper muscles so that you can do the exercises correctly. If needed, your doctor can make available biofeedback training that places a monitoring device into the vagina, and the electrodes externally. This type of monitor is able to monitor and tell you how successful your contractions of the pelvic floor muscles are and it also monitors how long you can hold the contraction.
- You should expect to see results from doing your Kegel exercises within a couple of months. Some women enjoy dramatic results and actually prevent the development of further UTI’s. After you have mastered the basics, you can increase the number of Kegel exercises you do and the length of them.
When Should You do Your Kegel Exercises?You should make your Kegel exercise part of your day-to-day routine. It’s really easy for you to do Kegel exercises discreetly, which means you can do them anytime and anywhere. You might be sitting at a red light, sitting at your desk, going to bed, having a bath, or doing any other routine task. As you get more confident you will find that you can do your Kegel exercises standing up. The key is to practice and before long you will be able to do them while you are washing the dishes, standing in a grocery lineup, or any time you want.
Who Created the Kegel Exercises?Arnold Kegel, MD, first wrote about the Kegel exercise back in 1948 and they are not as simple as they appear. According to urologist, Benjamin Brucker, MD, from the NYU Medical Centre, at least 50 percent of the women with a urinary incontinence problem will have trouble isolating their pelvic floor muscles. If your Kegel exercises do not seem to be working it is possible that you are not using the correct muscles or you have not mastered the technique. Ask for help!
Can You do Kegels if You’re Already Pregnant?Pregnant women can do absolutely Kegel exercises. In fact, they can make your childbirth easier. However, you should talk to your doctor before you start any new exercise program.
What if You’re Having Problems With Your Kegels?Don’t feel embarrassed if you are having problems doing your Kegel exercises. Ask your doctor for help. As we mentioned previously there are things your doctor can do to help you like using biofeedback techniques.
What Can You do if You Need More Help?If you are unsure about whether your Kegel exercises are working for you, you should think about making an appointment with a pelvic floor physical therapist. They work with women who have problems isolating the pelvic floor muscles. This type of physical therapy can be very beneficial because your therapist will prescribe a custom exercise program designed to strengthen the pelvic floor over a period of time.
Just like any other workout, your Kegel exercises will increase in length and duration as your muscles become stronger. The muscles in your pelvis affect more than the vagina area. They affect your abdomen and legs too. If your leg muscles or abdominal muscles are weak, then your pelvic muscles might have to work overtime.
Vaginal exercises, otherwise referred to as Kegels, are crucially important to your vaginal health as well as the health of surrounding organs such as your bladder. Do not underestimate their value. So go ahead, give Kegels a try.If you’d like a bit more information about Kegel exercises, you can talk to your doctor or a physical therapist that specializes in teaching Kegel exercises. They are easy to do any time, cost you absolutely no money, and improve your physical, sexual, and mental health.