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 do not 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, learn how to do keels and 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.
Aging – 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 does not 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 hysterectomy.
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 are 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 have found the muscles, make sure you relax and empty your bladder completely. Do not do this regularly because you may start retaining urine.
The movement is an upward and inward contraction, not a bearing-down effort. Do not 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 legs together.
If you cannot 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. Do not 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.