Kegel muscles – everyone has heard of them, not many people know what they are, where they are or what they do. Every now and then you might here a woman saying, “I’m doing them right now” and yet she is seemingly sitting or standing there, not moving at all.
What are our Kegel muscles?
The pubococcygeus muscles, or PC muscles as they are more commonly termed, wrap around our pelvis in a loop, running from our pelvic bone at the front to our coccyx at the back. They are the largest group of muscles in our bodies and are responsible for a lot of pretty important functions – good orgasms being one of them! These muscles are important for maintaining urinary control, helping us maintain our posture, holding our lower organs in place, and for good sexual response. Because these muscles are so often related to women, it is often neglected that men have them too – when a guy’s erection twitches, that’s his PC muscles working!
So why Kegel?
In the 1950’s, a gynaecologist called Arnold Kegel (hence the name), discovered that he was able to help women tighten their pelvic floor muscles after childbirth and in doing so assist them with problems of incontinence – that’s not having full control over your bladder, and is a very common problem with women after having a baby or in older women. He realised that through ‘working out’ these muscles, women were able to strengthen them enough to regain muscle tone and solve their incontinence issue. Not only this, but he also found that when the women in his study were doing their exercises to strengthen these muscles, some of them were having orgasms too!
I’m not sure where my Kegels are?
People often ask me “how do I know where my Kegels are?” Simple… when you are urinating, try and stop the flow. Those are your Kegel muscles working. Once you have identified the sensation and where the muscles are, you are able to start ‘working them out’, if you will. Alternatively, women can ensure they’ve found this muscle by inserting a finger into themselves and squeezing, and men a finger into their anus and squeezing. Like any other muscle in our bodies, if we don’t use it or it is stressed in some way, it becomes weak or tense. Our Kegel muscles are the same.
Problems with your Kegels
Unfortunately, like most things in our body, we can experience problems with these muscles. With our Kegel muscles, if they are contracting too much and have experienced a stress (such as a traumatic sexual experience), the constant contracting can make penetration impossible, even by a finger! This can lead to sexual pain disorders and the goal of treating a disorder such as this is to help the individual learn to relax their muscles through the use of both homework and psychological/ medical intervention.
So how do you work them out?
This type of exercise does not require any gym membership or athletic equipment (although exercising regularly is great for your self-esteem and sex life)! All you need to do once you’ve identified the muscle group is to squeeze them, hold it for 10 seconds, and release. The sensation you should feel is more of a ‘pushing out’ than ‘sucking in’ feeling. Do this 10 times and your muscles will be getting just the right amount of exercise they need to strengthen up. The goal of Kegel exercises is not about how tight you can squeeze, but rather holding that squeeze and the release that follows. This enables you to learn where they are, be able to voluntarily control them and be able to relax them when needed. Although doing regular Kegel exercises is ideal, most women forget or do 1 or 2 then move on. Try relate something in your daily life to doing your exercises, such as doing them when you brush your teeth or wait for your coffee in the morning.
Alternatively, there are a wide variety of sexual aids for women that can assist you in both locating and working these muscles. Known as Kegel Balls, these little beauties do all the hard work for you via a weighted metal ball inside a silicone ball casing. When you move about, the inner ball moves, and your muscles contract. You can also insert the ball and squeeze your muscles around it, much like you would squeeze a stress ball in your hand. My product of choice is the Lelo Luna Beads, simply because of all the Kegel Balls out there, this product is made of the highest grade medical silicone (so important when you’re buying sex toys), comes in beautiful packaging with a beautiful storage bag, and you get 2 different sets of balls, each of different weights. This means that if your muscles are weak, you start on the heavier set before moving on to the lighter set. As Lelo suggests, “Luna Beads allow women to follow a progressive routine without it disrupting their daily lives.”
What exactly do strong Kegels do for you (and your sex life)?
As previously mentioned, Kegels improve orgasm and overall sensation that we experience during sex, and who wouldn’t want that! When someone suggests that a woman is tight down there, they are actually referring to her Kegel muscles. Strengthening these muscles makes your vagina tighter, and that’s why after childbirth they are a sure fire way to get your important parts back into sexual shape, so to speak. Women should be doing these exercises to prevent incontinence in later years or after having a baby, as well as during and after menopause to increase sensation, as we ladies lose some of that after a certain age.
Doing Kegel exercises should not just be for post-pregnancy or menopausal women! For women of all ages these exercises tone the most important part of your body, and enhance your sexual experience from arousal to orgasm. In a nutshell, Kegel muscles are your secret weapon to making sure you’re getting the most out of sex that you can!