What is a kegel?
A kegel (KAY-gul or KEY-gul) is the name of a pelvic floor exercise that Dr. Arnold Kegel,
a University of Southern California gynecologist, developed in 1948 to help
women with postpartum incontinence. Another name for the exercise is pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT). Kegel's are a specific
type of exercise that target the muscles of the pelvic floor. These muscles
support the rectum, vagina, and the urethra in the pelvis. Pelvic floor exercises are one of
the first-line treatments for stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
Definition of Urinary
Incontinence: Incontinence is the inability to control
urination (the loss of bladder control) It affects people of all ages
and gender, but woman are twice as likely as men to develop
incontinence. It s a common and often embarrassing problem. The severity
of urinary incontinence ranges from occasionally leaking urine when you
cough or sneeze to having sudden to unpredictable episodes of strong
urinary urgency. Sometimes, the urgency may be so strong you don't get
to a toilet in time.
Incontinence is more common with older women,
but it is possible for a young woman to have the problem. Many factors can
weaken these muscles throughout one’s life, including pregnancy, childbirth,
obesity, aging, menopause, chronic cough, chronic constipation, and a
genetic predisposition to weak connective tissue. The vaginal muscles and
the pelvic floor muscles lose their strength which can lead to a number of
physical and sexual functionality related ailments. The weakened pelvis
muscles may lead to sexual dissatisfaction, stress incontinence, and urge
incontinence. Even performing the regular activities can cause stress
incontinence. To get rid of these syndromes, practice Kegel exercises!
Are kegel exercises easy to do?
Yes, you can do these simple
exercises anywhere and at any time, and no one will know you are doing them. For example, you can perform them
while driving to and from work (traffic lights and stop signs are excellent
places to practice), sitting at the computer, talking on the phone, reading
a book, eating a meal, and watching TV are just a few of the many places you
can do your kegel exercises. Be creative!
Do a set of 10 Kegel exercises three (3) times a day. The exercises will get easier the
more often you do them. You might make a practice of fitting in a set every
time you do a routine task, such as checking e-mail or commuting to work. What is most important is that, as with
any exercise, regular and consistent practice of Kegel exercises is
necessary to achieve results.
Benefit from doing kegels:
Kegels can be performed by both men and women. There are significant benefits for
both sexes. It really is incredible how many benefits you can get from such
a little exercise! Many conditions put stress on your pelvic floor muscles:
Pregnancy and childbirth - Kegel exercises are recommended
especially during pregnancy. Well-toned pelvic floor muscles may make
you more comfortable as your due date approaches and conditioned muscles
will make birth easier.
Extreme overweight - Extra weight puts added pressure on your muscles of the
pelvic area. Weight loss can also help.
Kegel exercises can
help prevent urinary incontinence, prolapses and many other problems of
the pelvic floor that are often associated with aging and decreased
muscle tone. Incontinence is very common with
aging, but that doesn't mean it's an inevitable part of aging.
Especially important for women because as much as 55% report
experiencing some degree of incontinence during their lifetime.
Chronic cough - Kegel exercises
can make you more able to tighten your pelvic floor muscles, before pressure increases in your
abdomen, when you sneeze, cough or laugh.
Sexual problems -
Kegel exercise leads to
sexual enjoyment being enhanced for both partners.
May be helpful to women who have persistent problems reaching orgasm as
kegel exercises increase the
blood flow to the genital area.
Menopause - Menopause
also contributes to incontinence by sapping estrogen. Kegel exercises
help overcome incontinence.
Surgery - Incontinence can occur
after an hysterectomy for women and prostate surgery in men. Some
studies show a 60% greater risk of incontinence following a
Hormone therapy - A recent study
showed that hormone therapy actually has been shown to increase the
incidence of incontinence.
Other factors -
These include drug interactions, certain
illnesses such as diabetes or Parkinson’s can contribute to incontinence
in both men and women.
Identify the correct
muscles and doing kegel exercises right:
When doing kegel exercises, it is important to
make sure you are doing them correctly!
A good test to see if you are using the right muscles is to try
to tighten your muscles around your vagina and back passage and lift up, as
if you’re stopping yourself passing water and wind at the same time. A
quick way of finding the right muscles is by
trying to stop the flow of urine when you’re in the toilet. Once you've
found the muscles, make sure you relax and empty your bladder completely.
Don’t do this regularly because you may start retaining urine.
The movement is an upward and inward
contraction, not a bearing-down effort. Don't hold your breath. You should be able to
hold a conversation at the same time, or try counting aloud while you're
doing the exercises. Do not tighten your tummy, thigh, or buttock muscles as
you will be exercising the wrong muscle groups. Also do not squeeze your
If you can’t stop
your flow of urine completely, slowing it is a good start. Try the test
every two weeks or so to see if your muscles are getting stronger. Don't do
the test more often than this.
Types of Kegels:
There are two basic kinds of Kegel exercises.
Slow kegel - You squeeze and hold
for 5 seconds and then relax. Repeat this 10 times in a row (this
should take about 50 seconds). Slow contractions help to increase the
strength of your pelvic floor.
Fast or quick kegel -
Rapidly squeeze and release
the muscles of the vagina 10 times in a row (this should take about t0
seconds). Fast contractions help your pelvic floor
to cope with pressure, for example when you sneeze, cough or laugh.