You've hit the gym today and blasted some major muscle groups. Whether it is leg day, arm day or a full body workout, you know you've done the right thing by your body. You are keeping your muscles fit, toned and healthy. However, there is an important group of muscles you may be neglecting. Did you remember to do your Kegel exercises today?
Kegel exercises strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which surround the vagina and urethra, and support the bladder. These pelvic muscles are important for preventing incontinence in older women, those who are pregnant, or just had a baby.
But, those aren't the only benefits to strengthening the pelvic floor muscles and the pubococcygeus (or PC) muscle, in particular. Working this area can produce better orgasms! Strong muscles contract harder and that produces a more intense sensation.
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The first thing you need to do is learn to flex your pelvic floor muscles. The easiest and most common way to find and isolate these muscles is to stand over the toilet and start to pee. Standing makes it easier for you to find these muscles than sitting, trust us. The next step is to stop peeing midstream. If you stop peeing, you've found the right muscles. Remember the feeling. This doesn't come easily or naturally for all women, so if you are uncertain, talk to your gynecologist. This is one of those questions that they'll be to happy to answer.
“I like to have my patients do it during an exam,” Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Yale Medical School, says. “I put my finger in the vagina and say, ‘Squeeze my finger. OK, you’ve just done a Kegel exercise.’”
The standard Kegel uses a squeeze, hold, release method. Minkin says to think about it like an elevator. The elevator goes up, hold the elevator, then the elevator goes down. But that isn't the only move. There is also the "Knack maneuver." This is a two-second clench you use to prevent peeing at critical moments, like right before you sneeze. Once you've got this down, you can build on your routine.
Leah Millheiser, M.D., clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Stanford University School of Medicine says she usually has her patients begin with this routine:
- Squeeze for 5 seconds, relax for 5 seconds
- Do 3 sets of 15 reps
“Don’t do this while driving or at dinner,” she cautions the beginner. “Be mindful and take the time in shower or in bed to be focused on what you’re doing." Being mindful is the only way to know if you are doing it right. Once this feels like second nature, add a mid-day session. Then, work yourself up to three times a day a week or two following the intro of your mid-day session. When you become a master, you can do these exercises anywhere you are. “Every tank of gas I put in my car, I do Kegels,” says Minkin. “When you see me at Larry’s pumping gas, you know what’s going on down below.”
If this just doesn't feel like enough for you and you want kick it up a notch, there is some equipment available like yoni eggs and Kegel balls, which are weights you put in your vagina and use your PC muscles to prevent them from falling out. There are even some devices available that provide feedback to your smartphone, so you can track the strength of your contractions.
No matter how you come to doing Kegels, remember this:
"The end result is it's an exercise like any other," says Millheiser. “It’s about repetition and consistency.”
For any exercise to work, you need to stick with it! Your pelvic floor will see major improvements in about six months. For better orgasms, the wait is worth it!