Kegel exercises are series of exercises aimed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. They are designed especially for women, but they may also bring certain benefits to men. The exercises have been invented and pioneered by the American gynecologist Arnold Kegel in the 20th century.
Pelvic floor contains a large number of muscles that have a close relationship to the anal area and genitourinary system. The muscles are usually weakened and flabby, especially in obese people with sedentary jobs and in women after multiple pregnancies and births.
In women, strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor is important in pregnancy when it decreases risk of perineal tearing during the childbirth and reduces the need of episiotomy, especially when combined with regular perineal massages. Strengthened pelvic muscles are also ideal prevention of stress urinary incontinence, which is higher in aged women. In both sexes, regular performance of Kegel exercises leads to improvement in sexual quality of life, increased frequency of female orgasms and decreasing risk of erectile dysfunction in men.
Description of exercises
The exercise of strengthening the pelvic floor muscles basically consists of their alternating loading and releasing. One shall train muscles that contract when one wants to stop urinating. The exercise can be performed virtually anytime and anywhere (e.g. while watching television, at work, etc.). It is recommended to repeat them several times a day with a total number of about 100 to 200 muscle contractions per day. Women can modify the exercise by inserting two fingers into the vagina, gently pushing them apart and simultaneously tightening the local muscles to counteract the pressure of the fingers.