Kegel Exercises — What are they? How do they work? Who should do them? And when to expect results.
What are Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises (also known as pelvic floor exercises) were developed in 1948 by American gynecologist, Dr. Arnold Kegel, to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles for optimal long-term function.
Your pelvic floor is a group of involuntary muscles, meaning the work without you having to think about them, located between your tailbone, pubic bone, and sit bones. This muscle group supports your bowels, bladder and sexual organs, aids in sexual function, and plays a major role in pelvic/hip stability. Most importantly, a good functioning pelvic floor ensures we don’t let out pee or poop unexpectedly.
Keeping these pelvic floor muscles fit helps prevent urinary incontinence, pelvic organ prolapse, and accidentally passing gas or poop, and has even been known to improve your orgasm.
Who should or should not do Kegels?
Many factors are known to weaken your pelvic floor muscles, such as weight gain, pregnancy, childbirth, excessive straining from constipation, chronic coughing, surgery, and aging.
Both men and women can benefit from Kegel exercises, as men can also experience pelvic floor weakening as they age or if they’ve had prostate surgery.
You might benefit from Kegel exercises if you:
- You experience urine leakage (even small drops) when you cough, laugh or sneeze.
- You experience urine leakage when you bend down, lift something up, or when you walk, jog, or exercise.
- You experience a strong and uncomfortable need to urinate before reaching the toilet.
- Leak unwanted stool.
Keep in mind, Kegels aren’t for everyone. If you’re prone to a hypertonic pelvic floor, a condition where your pelvic muscles are in a state of spasm or continuously contracting, these exercises might do more harm than good. Contracting tired or tense muscles can lead to muscle strain and injury. Common symptoms for a hypertonic pelvic floor include but are not limited to, pain or issues with urination, conspiration, and pain during sexual intercourse. Talk to your doctor to learn if Kegels are right for you.
How to do Kegel exercises — A step-by-step guide:
Step 1 – Practice locating & contracting your pelvic floor muscles.
Kegels are relatively straightforward once you identify where your pelvic muscles are located. The easiest way to locate your pelvic floor muscles is to pretend you’re trying to avoid passing gas, or tightening your vagina around an invisible tampon. Stopping urination mid-stream is another effective way to locate your pelvic floor, but avoid repetitive use of this technique as it can lead to incomplete bladder emptying.
Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can do Kegel exercises while sitting, standing, or even lying down. The best position for you will be the one where you can really feel your exercises.
If you’re just starting out or your pelvic muscles are weak, we recommend you start with a laying down version.
Step 2 – Perfect your Kegel technique.
To do a Kegel, start by tightening your anus, as if trying to avoid passing gas, while keeping your buttocks relaxed. Contract for three seconds, and then relax for three seconds. Do this a few times. You should feel an isolated squeezing and lifting sensation in your pelvic floor.
Next, try tightening your vagina as if trying to close the entrance shut. Again, contract for three seconds, and then relax for three seconds. Do a few repetitions. You should feel your anus and lower abdomen tighten.
Now, imagine you’re stopping the flow of urine by tightening the area around your urethra. This one can be tricky, especially if you’re just starting out. Contract for 3-2-1, and relax for 3-2-1. Do as many repetitions as feels comfortable. If you feel your anus, vagina, and lower abdomen contracting all at once – you’re on the right track.
Combine all three steps by contracting simultaneously, and you have yourself a Kegel.
Step 3 – Focus on technique, relax, breathe.
For best results, focus on isolating and tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Avoid contracting your legs, upper abdomen, shoulders or any other muscles during the process.
Remember to breathe when you’re doing Kegel exercises. Your diaphragm and pelvic floor work closely together, creating and regulating pressure in the body. Learning to train both these muscle groups in tandem will ensure you’re doing Kegel exercises correctly.
Step 4 – Repeat with gradually increasing reps & frequency.
When just starting out, aim to do at least two sets of 5 repetitions a day, and work your way up from there. A good training standard to aim for is 10 Kegel cycles, 3 to 4 times a day.
Remember to only do enough Kegel exercise reps that feel comfortable for you. Similar to working out at the gym, gradually increase the number of Kegel reps you do so you gain strength and endurance over time and avoid discomfort of injury due to muscle strain.
- Set an alarm in the morning and evening for a gentle reminder to do two daily sets of Kegels.
- Avoid contracting your legs/abs and other muscles during the process.
- Remember to breathe when you’re doing Kegel exercises. Your diaphragm and pelvic floor work closely together, and learning to train both these muscle groups together will ensure you’re doing Kegel exercises correctly.
- There’s no equipment required to do Kegel exercises – you can do them anytime, anywhere and as many feels comfortable to you.
When to expect results.
If you do Kegel exercises daily, and gradually increase your repetitions and frequency, you should expect to see results within a few weeks or months. Results can show in a variety of ways, such as less frequent urinary incontinence, less urgency to pee, less fecal incontinence, and more.
Most women say they notice less urine leakage within 12 weeks after starting and sticking with a Kegel exercise routine.
Like training any muscle, making Kegel exercises a permanent part of your daily routine will ensure you see continued benefits.
If you need more immediate relief from urinary incontinence, Uresta can be a temporary solution while you work on strengthening your pelvic floor muscles.
You may get to a place with your pelvic floor strengthening where your bladder leakage symptoms are entirely eliminated, and you may no longer need Uresta. Or you may find that your pelvic floor strengthening hasn’t fully eliminated your urinary incontinence, and you still need Uresta for a little extra support.
Uresta is a non-invasive, at-home solution that will not weaken your pelvic floor when in use, and an effective and safe way to immediately manage bladder leakage before it happens, not after. We’ve successfully helped thousands of women around the world, and every day more people make bladder leakage a thing of the past.
Is Uresta right for you? Take our Free Assessment to find out!
- Harvard Health Publishing – Step-By-Step Guide to Performing Kegel Exercises.
- Mayo Clinic – Kegel Exercises: A How-to Guide for Women
- Cleveland Clinic – Kegel Exercises
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease – Kegel Exercises
- UChicago Medicine – Kegels: The 30-second exercise that can improve incontinence and sex
- Cleveland Clinic – Hypertonic Pelvic Floor