Both men and women can benefit from performing exercises to work and strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor dysfunction can be greatly improved with regular exercises targeting these muscle groups.2,3
Kegel exercises for females
How to do a proper Kegel is vital to the success of the treatment. These exercises can be done anywhere and at any time and are beneficial in strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor.5
Your health care provider or physical therapist can instruct you on how to perform a proper Kegel while in their office, at which time proper technique can be evaluated. Pelvic floor exercises can also be done during pregnancy and after childbirth.5
At times, a technique called biofeedback may be necessary. During biofeedback treatment, a device will monitor proper muscle contraction, the strength of the pelvic floor and timing of Kegels. Biofeedback reinforces proper technique of the exercises.3-5
Kegel exercises can be carried out discreetly in any location; even while at work in an office.
In order to perform a proper Kegel, you will need to:2-5
- Relax the abdomen, chest, thighs and buttocks
- Tighten the pelvic floor muscles, as if you are attempting to stop urinating, and hold for 5-10 seconds. If you are able to feel an upward movement and tightening of the vagina, anus or bladder, you have successfully completed a Kegel.
Take a 5-10 second break and repeat for three sets, 10 times per day. The ultimate goal is to hold the contraction for 10 seconds each time the exercise is performed.
To be sure you have correctly identified the pelvic floor muscles and performed a Kegel, some women find it helpful to insert a finger into the vagina and perform the Kegel; if performed correctly, the muscles will tighten and move upward.3. Additionally, some women may also benefit from using a weighted vaginal cone, attempting to hold the cone in place within the vagina while performing a Kegel exercise.3,4
It is not advised to frequently perform Kegel exercises when urinating; this technique can increase the risk of incomplete bladder emptying and urinary tract infections.2,4
Additionally, Kegels should be done as recommended; overexercising of the pelvic floor muscles can worsen pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms due to muscle fatigue. Positive results can be expected within a few weeks to months of Kegel exercise practice.3,4
Kegel exercises for males
Men are not immune to the effects of a weak pelvic floor and may benefit from performing Kegel exercises. As well as improving bladder and bowel control, pelvic floor exercises may also improve sexual performance.6
The surgical removal of the prostate (radical prostatectomy) is another factor that can weaken the pelvic floor muscles.
It may be necessary to have a health care provider offer proper instruction or biofeedback techniques; biofeedback will use sensors placed in the anus to provide a visual graph showing muscle contraction and relaxation.3,6
Men can also benefit from performing Kegel exercises if they have a weak pelvic floor.
Additionally, it may be helpful to self-identify the muscles of the pelvic floor used during a Kegel. In order to do this, men can insert a finger into the rectum while tightening and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles (as if you were holding or stopping the urine stream).3
In order to perform a Kegel properly, you will need to:6
- Relax the muscles of the abdomen, thighs and buttocks while breathing normally
- Locate the pelvic floor muscles as above
- Tighten the pelvic floor muscles as if you are attempting to stop urinating, hold for 3 seconds and then relax for 3 seconds. Repeat in sets of 10, three times per day.
As above, it is not advised to frequently perform Kegel exercises when urinating; this technique can increase the risk of incomplete bladder emptying and urinary tract infections.2,4
Additionally, Kegels should be done as recommended; over-exercising of the pelvic floor muscles can worsen pelvic floor dysfunction symptoms due to muscle fatigue.3,6 Positive results can be expected within a few weeks to months of Kegel exercise practice.6
Speak with your health care provider if you have symptoms of or are at risk of developing pelvic floor dysfunction, or if you need additional instruction on how to perform pelvic floor exercises. At times, evaluation with a pelvic floor physiotherapist may be recommended.2