Kegel exercises have long been associated with women – something that they do during pregnancy and post childbirth to tone up their pelvic floors and prevent or ease incontinence symptoms. But Men, if you haven’t tried kegels, you’re truly missing out. Not only can they help ease bladder leakage if you have it, experts claim that they can also give you a stronger erection and orgasm. Want to learn more? Keep reading.
What are Kegels and what muscles do they work?
Kegels are basically the contracting of the muscles in your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is comprised of a tightly woven web of muscels, located in the base of the pelvis between the pubic bone and tailbone. These muscles have three main functions:
- They help support the pelvic organs such as the bladder, the intestines and the rectum.
- They help control bladder and bowel function and can prevent or ease symptoms of bladder leakage.
- They are involved in sexual functionality.
As with any other muscle in the body, if they get weak, they can no longer perform their job. These muscles can naturally stretch and become weaker over time, but with proper exercise they can remain strong to ensure good sexual and bladder health and function.
How do kegels benefit me?
Kegels can address a number of issues that men may face related to their bladder or bowel.
Urinary incontinence is a condition that affects as many as 15% of men aged 15-64, and may be caused by a number of health conditions. The most common cause of incontinence in men is due to problems with the prostate, but other conditions can affect bladder function as well. Incontinence in men can range from a small amount of leakage after urination, or more substantial leaking when performing physical activity or placing stress on the bladder (laughing, coughing, working out, lifting heavy items). A Kegel regimen can help to tone these muscles to preventthe leaks from happening.
Fecal Incontinence. As with urinary incontinence, weakening of the pelvic floor muscles can also affect the anus and rectum, resulting in loss of bowel control. But, kegel exercises can help to tone and strengthen this area up as well to prevent bowel leakage.
Overactive Bladder. You’ve probably seen a million pharmaceutical commercials for what’s known as Overactive Bladder – the urgent and frequent need to empty your bladder. When you have an overactive bladder, the muscles of the bladder contract involuntarily, creating an urgent need to urinate. Performing kegels can help improve control of these muscles, improving, or even eliminating the chance bladder leakage.
Urinary Retention. Ever had difficulty starting a stream of urine? How about a weak flow, and the feeling that you need to urinate again right after you’ve finished? It could be urinary retention, which is usually caused by a blockage in the urinary tract, or nerve problems that interfere with signals between the brain and the bladder. Bladder retraining is one method that can be used to help fix this, but kegels can also help the nerves and muscles used in emptying the bladder to work better.
Erectile Functioning. Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, can be caused by many physical conditions (heart disease, diabetes), or can be the result of surgery (like prostate removal) or trauma. The good news is that you don’t have to resort to medications to treat it – kegel exercises can help strengthen your muscles in your pelvic region and regain normal function. In men, kegels specifically help strengthen the bulbocavernous muscle. This is the muscle that is responsible for erections, contractions during orgasm and ejaculation, and emptying the urethra after urination. Studies have found that regular practice of kegels can keep this muscle strong, and if you’re experiencing problems, kegels may improve your symptoms.
Ejaculation & Orgasm. Again, this goes back to the bulbocavernous muscle – the stronger the muscle, the stronger the contractions you’ll have during orgasm. Enough said.
How do I do a kegel?
First, you need to locate the right muscles, which is often the hardest part. The next time you’re urinating, try stopping the flow mid-stream. If you can do that, you’ve found the right muscle. (But don’t do this on a regular basis – this should only be done when trying to locate the correct muscles.)
There are two types of kegel exercises that you can do to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles.
Long Contractions. Long Contractions work on the supportive strength of the muscles. To perform a long kegel contraction, tighten your pelvic muscles and hold for 5 seconds. This may be difficult at first – don’t worry if you can’t hold the contraction for the full five seconds. With practice you’ll be able to work up to this.
Overtime, work your way up to 10 seconds per contraction. Be sure to rest for 10 seconds in between each contraction – knowing how to relax your muscle is as important as the contraction.
Short Contractions. Short contractions work the fast twitch muscles that work quickly to stop the flow of urine and prevent leaks. To perform a short contraction, tighten your muscles quickly, then release, and repeat.
When should I perform them?
Like any muscle, you don’t want to do too much too soon. Aim for 5 reps of both short and long contractions, 3x per day on your first day. As you gain more confidence and strength, work your way up to 10 reps, 3x per day of each.
It may take time to see changes, but consistency is key here. Continue practicing kegels and you should see improvements in 3-6 months. And, if you find that you need some help with kegels, talk to your doctor or physical therapist. They will be able to provide you with more personal instruction, which may include biofeedback therapy.