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Are Kegel Exercises Right For You?

The pelvic floor is an important series of muscles and tissues that form a sling at the base of the pelvis. This sling holds many bodily organs in place including the uterus, bladder, small bowel and rectum. As people grow older, these muscles gradually begin to decline.

Weak pelvic floor muscles can cause a wide range of health problems in both men and women. In women, these issues may include poor bladder control, “pelvic organ prolapse”(POP), reduced bowel control and difficulty during and after childbirth. In men, compromised pelvic muscles may progress into urinary incontinence, bowel leakage, premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction. Men and women of all ages can benefit from consistent Kegel exercises to prevent or reverse these serious health issues.

What Are Kegel Exercises?

Kegels are specific exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These exercises are targeted tighten-and-lift movements that work the hammock-like system of muscles and ligaments that support your organs. Kegels offer an easy way for most people to improve their health and build muscle resiliency.

The first step in beginning Kegels is to identify the core pelvic floor muscles. For women, the easiest way to find them is to contract the muscles that stop the flow of urine. For men, one trick is to tighten the rectal muscles that keep them from passing gas. Once the correct muscles are found, simple squeeze-and-lift repetitions are all that is needed to complete the exercise.

The beauty of Kegel exercises is that they can be done anywhere - even at a stop light or while waiting in line at the grocery store. Many people find that a daily regimen of three sets of ten repetitions is sufficient to see results in a matter of weeks.

Benefits of Kegel Exercises

Kegel exercises, when done properly, boast many health and lifestyle benefits. Some of the perks of Kegels are enjoyed by both men and women such as reduced urinary incontinence and increased bowel control. There are also some benefits of Kegels that are unique to each gender.

Women are especially benefited by performing Kegel exercises during and after their childbearing years. A stronger pelvic floor may ease discomfort during pregnancy and make for an easier delivery and recovery. Kegels are often touted as a method to enhance sexual enjoyment through increased vaginal muscle control. They may also stave off the need for surgery to correct severe prolapse - a condition where the reproductive organs begin to protrude from the body.

Men who do Kegels may enjoy an improved quality of life both in and out of the bedroom. Erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and post-surgical prostate issues are all shown to be alleviated by strengthening the pelvic floor.

In addition to the obvious physical benefits, Kegels can have a positive impact on mental health. The physical improvements associated with regular Kegels have the potential to improve self-confidence and overall happiness.

How Long Until Kegel Exercises Work?

The effectiveness of Kegels may vary based on each person’s physical health and background. Another major factor in success is one’s consistent commitment to following through with the exercises. Positive results should be noticeable within 12 weeks. Kegel exercises can (and should) be continued to create lasting and significant benefits.

What happens if Kegels have not produced any results after a few months? A doctor or other health professional can help determine if the Kegels are being done correctly. In some cases, a person's focus shifts down into the legs or up into the abdomen and the wrong muscles are worked.

After Kegel exercises have been successfully incorporated into a daily habit, doing them often becomes second nature. Kegels can provide huge benefits without expending a lot of time and effort.

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