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Modern Kegel exercises have been around for nearly 70 years and were originally developed by Dr. Arnold Kegel to help his OB/GYN patients gain control over incontinence by strengthening their pubococcygeus muscle.
While he had success with some patients it was until later when doctors began reconsidering the benefits of Kegel exercises for women when performed on a regular basis.
Benefits of Kegel Exercises for Women
It is important to understand that Kegel exercises for women are for all women, not just something mothers or elderly women need to do.
These exercises benefit everyone regardless of age and whether or not they want children. Doctors agree that there really is no age too young for an adult woman to start doing these.
In fact, with close to 50% of adult women experiencing weak pelvic floor related issues at some point in their lives, getting started as young as possible in adulthood is an excellent preventative measure.
The Benefits of Kegel Exercises for Women
by Lorene Garcia, Founder DVHC.org
Helps Prevent Accidental Urine Leaking
The main reason Kegel exercises for women are so popular has to do with leaking urine, properly called stress incontinence. Stress incontinence occurs when pressure causes some dribbles of pee to escape. The saying “I laughed until I wet myself” can be quite realistic if a woman has this issue.
A weak pelvic floor and pubococcygeus muscles will make bladder control difficult. These weak muscles can develop while pregnant, after pregnancy, during menopause and essentially any other time in a woman’s life. Even a healthy 30 year old in her prime may have weak muscles. Doing Kegel exercises regularly can make this problem completely disappear.
Helps Control Urgency to Urinate
Urgency to urinate is a really uncomfortable issue that is actually a type of incontinence. It is most often referred to as an overactive bladder. Some characteristics of this include discomfort when you feel the need to urinate, having to use the bathroom an unusual amount of times a day, waking up throughout the night to urinate, strong urgency to urinate (no signs to suddenly needing to go immediately) and even loss of control when your bladder is full.
Just like stress incontinence, overactive bladders can be caused by or the condition worsened by having weak pubococcygeus muscles. Nerve damage from a spinal injury or a stroke can also cause this type of incontinence and doing Kegels will really help though the condition may not completely go away without other medical help.
Reduces the Chance of Uterine Prolapse
A prolapsed uterus can be a very scary thing to think about but is somewhat common. Women who have had multiple natural births are more likely to experience this as well as woman who are 55+ in age. A uterine prolapse happens when the pelvic floor is not strong enough to essentially hold up the uterus and organs. When this happens the uterus drops down. Some women may have a very, very mild prolapse and never even realize it unless their doctor notices. Severe prolapses are uncomfortable and can become so bad that the uterus nearly fills the vaginal canal.
Thankfully Kegel exercises are an easy and effective way to prevent a prolapse, stop a mild prolapse from getting worse and reverse the initial stages of a prolapse. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is good mindset to have when considering whether you should do these exercises.
Makes Natural Birth Easier
Natural birth is a beautiful experience for a mother but it’s no surprise that new moms in particular may be fearful of the pain. Mothers who have had difficult giving birth naturally or experience complications afterwards may also be concerned. There is a reason many OB/GYN will tell you to do Kegel exercises during your pregnancy as well as after.
Follow your doctor’s advice because he/she is absolutely correct that Kegels will not only keep your pelvic floor strong throughout your pregnancy and after but also will make the birth itself easier. Strong pubococcygeus muscles will help you deliver your baby with less stress and pain.
Increases Feeling During Sex
One reason why Kegels were considered taboo to discuss back in the 40’s when they were developed was because of the sexual benefit of doing them. This reason even caused skepticism from some fellow medical professionals towards Dr. Kegel. Now in todays’ world discussing sex and ways to make it more pleasurable is a normal subject when it comes to women’s health.
Many women cite lack of feeling and an inability to achieve an orgasm as things that frustrate them about their sex life. Kegel exercises are ideally suited for remedying these issues and is often a happy side effect women experience when they do them for other reasons. Strong pubococcygeus muscles will allow a woman to feel more pleasure which in turn will increase their ability to achieve an orgasm. A healthy sex life makes for a happy, healthier woman.
How to Do Kegel Exercises for Women
Kegel exercises are incredibly simple to do and totally unnoticeable so they can be done while you’re waiting in line at the grocery store. Initially it may be difficult for some women to determine which muscle they need to contract. There are two ways you can find these muscles:
- Purposely stop the flow when going to the bathroom. Do not make a habit of stopping in the middle of urinating or doing Kegels this way. Only do this a couple times so you know which muscles to isolate.
- If you have trouble with that you can instead use your finger to feel whether you can tighten your vagina around it. Or if you have a partner, they will be able to help you.
If you are uncomfortable, feel pain or just can’t seem to isolate the muscle it is best to schedule a doctor’s appointment or ask your OB/GYN the next time you are due for a physical exam.
Once you know how to isolate these muscles you can start doing them throughout the day or in one session during the day. Start by contracting the muscle for only a few seconds before releasing. When you release make sure you relax and not push. Eventually you can build up your muscles so you can contract for 10 seconds before releasing. You can do Kegels while standing up, sitting or lying down- whichever makes you more comfortable.
Benefits of Kegel Exercises for Women
Though there aren’t any real health repercussions from doing too many Kegel exercises, you can reach a point in which doing more isn’t going to improve the muscles. It is best to spend no more than 15 minutes a day total, throughout the day, doing these exercises. If you have a strong pelvic floor already, you may do less. If you have sudden pain while doing these exercises seek your doctor’s opinion as soon as possible.
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Dr. Lorene Garcia is a a former Gynecologist based in Miami, Florida who has more than 20 years experience gynaecology.