When working out, a typical exercise routine will go as follows: you’ll tone your arms, work your abs, and lunge until your legs burn. But there is possibly one set of muscles that you may be forgetting … the ones in the nether regions – your vagina!
Sure, they’re teeny, but those muscles take quite a beating throughout life. Keeping them strong is more important than you think – their function goes beyond preventing you from peeing yourself!
The pelvic floor muscles are involved in every movement and breath we take. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that these muscles can become stiff, painful, weak, or dysfunctional.
While we’re constantly reminded by every women’s magazine on earth that we should be conscious of our pelvic floor muscles – what happens if you don’t have a clue where these little dynamos are found?
The pelvic floor muscles extend like a hammock from your pubic bone in front to your tailbone in the back and over the whole width of your pelvis from hip to hip. These muscles are frequently referred to as a hammock because they support all your pelvic organs above, just like a hammock supports your weight.
For them to do a decent job, they must be secure and robust. The fabric of the hammock must be strong enough for the purpose, and the trees to which it is connected must be stable.
Want to get familiar with these muscles? Well, you can. Literally. Using a mirror, watch yourself do exercises. You’ll notice how the perineum rises higher, towards your head.
Alternatively, place your hands firmly on your low belly, two fingers on each side, in the area around your panty line. As you perform the movements, you will feel a muscle softly press up against your fingers.
You can also test your pelvic floor strength by stopping your pee in the mid-flow – strong muscles should be capable of doing this easily. Feel that squeeze? Those are your pelvic floor muscles. Just try it once, though, as it can be harmful to your bladder.
What are Kegels?
“First and foremost, Kegels are a means to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which act as a hammock around the pelvis,” says Leah Millheiser, M.D., Head of Stanford University School of Medicine’s Female Sexual Medicine Program. Kegels function the same way that any other workout does: by contracting a muscle, you strengthen it.
In the case of Kegels, it means squeezing your pelvic floor muscles to keep them toned and tight—these are the same muscles you clench when you’re trying to stop yourself from peeing and the part of the body that your Pilates teacher always reminds you to engage in class.
Benefits of Kegels
Kegels are sometimes referred to as a below-the-belt rehab routine, particularly in the context of strengthening your vagina after giving birth. When a woman’s pelvic floor muscles are a bit slack after childbirth, Kegels can help strengthen them and speed up the healing process.
Working your pelvic-floor muscles also helps reduce incontinence symptoms. In other words, Kegels may help if you ever pee a bit when you laugh, cough, or sneeze. It is not a cure-all for incontinence, but it is an excellent place to start.
But the perks of Kegels don’t stop there – they can tighten your vagina, which helps with several physical issues (you’ll be happy to know that orgasms are included!).
So, who’s on board?
Can Kegels make your orgasms more intense?
Heck yes, they certainly can! An orgasm, when you think about it, is a rhythmic contraction of the pelvic floor, and strengthening those muscles may assist those orgasms in becoming more potent.
Although Kegels are often a suggested practice for menopausal women who may feel that their orgasms have gotten a little womp womp over time, you don’t have to be in orgasm rescue mode to reap the benefits!
Though relatively few women can orgasm solely through vaginal intercourse, you can improve your chances by strengthening your pelvic floor. Kegel exercises assist in tightening the pubococcygeus muscle, which is one of the muscles that contract during orgasm.
Though orgasmic contractions are voluntary, the more toned your little love muscles are, the easier it is for your body to use them during orgasms. To sweeten the deal, some women report being able to climax in positions they couldn’t previously, while others even experience multiple orgasms. If your orgasms are already intense, doing Kegels regularly may make them even more earth-shattering.
Kegels Increase Vaginal Blood Circulation
When you perform these inconspicuous exercises, you are toning and strengthening your vaginal muscles. Furthermore, you are boosting the quantity of blood flow to your vagina. Increased blood flow is an essential aspect of arousal. Like how many women are more sexually aroused during their periods, the blood flow that occurs during Kegel exercises might influence how interested you are in sex.
A lack of feeling around your vaginal entrance is one of the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor. Kegels assist in strengthening your pelvic floor, enhancing sensitivity in your genitals, and can even boost your natural lubrication. It’s a win-win!
Most people want sex to be pleasurable. However, many women are unaware that practicing Kegels every day might enhance the quality of their intercourse. If you’ve recently delivered a baby, have a weak pelvic floor due to chronic coughing, or simply want to better what you were born with, flexing your pelvic muscles will help strengthen the whole area and make sex seem more pleasurable.
Kegels aren’t merely for tightening and toning your vagina. If you’ve had painful intercourse, doing Kegel exercises regularly might help you learn to relax your pelvic floor.
Oh, and don’t forget about the advantages for him! Kegels might also help him have a better sexual experience. You can even use Kegels during intercourse — some men have stated that their partner just clenching and releasing their pelvic muscles surrounding their penis causes them to orgasm.
Men can also lengthen their erections by using Kegels. All they have to do is squeeze as if attempting to hold a pee. They will be able to continue longer since the urethra can only do one function at a time — urination or ejaculation. Isn’t it worth a shot?
Improve your sexual confidence
Kegels are fantastic for improving your confidence, which is a non-physical benefit. When you feel good about your body – both inside and out – it will show in several aspects of your life. Since we’re talking about sex, it’s worth noting that sexual confidence is a significant advantage. When you feel tighter and more toned, and you become sexually aroused more readily, you’re more likely to want to have sex. And, because sex and orgasms release chemicals into your brain, such as oxytocin, you’re more likely to feel calmer, happier, and, of course, more confident.
How do you do Kegels properly?
Using a hand mirror, locate the muscle as explained above and squeeeeze!
1. Ensure that you’re squeezing
Place a finger in your vagina and squeeze the muscles—you should feel a lifting and contraction around your finger if you’re performing Kegels correctly. If you’re still not sure if you’re doing it correctly, ask your gynecologist for advice at your next checkup.
2. Remember to hold rather than pulse.
Once you’ve mastered it, squeeze for three to ten seconds and then release for three seconds. Think of it as though you are attempting to keep a marble from dropping out of your vagina, pulling instead of pushing out.
3. Make Kegels a regular part of your daily routine.
Do ten repetitions for one set, then two sets the next day, and so on. This isn’t something you practice for two weeks, and then you’re done with! You’ll have to keep up with these workouts on an ongoing basis.
If you want to see results, you’ll need to be conscientious and do these exercises daily for around six months to see a difference. The good news is that you can do these exercises almost anywhere, and if you’re doing them correctly, no one else will ever know!
4. Try using a mobile application.
Several vaginal-fitness monitors are available to help you keep track of your pelvic floor gains, that is, of course, if you’re looking to up your Kegel game. For those who struggle to identify their muscles or simply want some feedback, these trackers may prove super handy. Most of these applications allow you to keep track of your progress over time.
5. Be mindful of what you put up there.
Make sure that it is manufactured from body-safe materials such as silicone and will not irritate your vagina. And although it goes without saying, make sure to clean whatever you are inserting with mild soap and water after each usage.
Is it essential for everyone to do Kegels?
Even if you don’t have incontinence difficulties, Kegels are generally recommended to your feminine health care routine. There are, however, certain exceptions. If you have symptoms associated with a tight pelvic floor, it is advisable to skip Kegels altogether since tightening these muscles is definitely not something you should try with a condition like vaginismus.
If you have extensive pelvic-floor issues—either discomfort from a condition that produces tightness or weakness that isn’t improving after six months of doing regular Kegels—consider seeing a pelvic-floor physical therapist for further information on what can help.
Kegel balls are available in a wide range of weights and sizes ranging from 10 to 100 grams. Your best bet is to use them regularly (or as often as you remember) and gradually increase the weight as you notice your muscles growing more robust. The heavier the ball, obviously, the more strength you’ll need to keep it inside—so start small.
When you’re not using Ben Wa balls for incontinence, Jess O’Reilly, PhD, host of the @SexWithDrJess Podcast, says you can use them for arousal and pleasure as well. She recommends using Kegel balls as sex toys that are held together with a silicone cable. “You might insert the balls and twist them or gently tug on the threads to produce a variety of sensations,” she says. “Some individuals love slowly drawing them out to increase awareness and draw attention to more subtle sensations.”
To ramp up the sensations, run your Ben Wa balls under cold or warm water before insertion. “By stimulating the body’s delicate thermoreceptors, temperature changes can heighten arousal and modify the way we interpret pleasure,” O’Reilly says.
While kegel balls are usually regarded as safe, they should not be used immediately after giving birth (you may have vaginal tearing that requires time to heal) and should not be left in for more than six hours.
When you’re ready to go, use Ben Wa balls made of non-porous silicone (such as these), which won’t hurt your vagina.
Once again, remember to wash them after each use with gentle soap and water, no matter what they’re made of. Keep them in a clean, dry, and secure location, and check them before each use.