Kegel exercises: how are they done and what are their benefits?

By (gynecologist), (embryologist) and .
Last Update: 06/12/2023

Kegel exercises are intended to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Keeping the pelvic floor in shape is especially important, as these muscles are responsible for supporting the bladder, rectum and, in the case of women, also the uterus.

Both men and women can perform Kegel exercises. These exercises were used by Dr. Arnold Kegel as a method to improve urinary incontinence in his patients. However, Kegel exercises can also contribute to easier childbirth and better sexual health.

What are kegel exercises?

Basically, Kegel exercises consist of voluntarily contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles in order to strengthen the pelvic floor. However, it can be difficult to perform these exercises correctly, as it is common to not know which specific muscles to contract.

To perform a Kegel exercise, the muscles must be contracted in the same way as when going to the bathroom and cutting off the urine stream. In fact, you can do this once to recognize the muscles to be contracted. However, one should not get into this habit and perform Kegel exercises with urination, as it could cause the bladder to not empty completely and also cause urinary tract infection problems.

Another option to recognize the muscles to be contracted is to insert a finger into the vagina, imagine that you want to stop urinating and notice how the muscles contract. Males, on the other hand, can perform the same alternative by inserting their finger into the rectum.

How are Kegel exercises performed?

Before performing Kegel exercises it is important to adopt a good posture, without forcing the pelvis forward or backward and with an elongated spine. On the other hand, it is common to start performing Kegel exercises in a lying position and, with practice, try sitting and standing.

To perform Kegel exercises, once the muscles to be contracted have been identified and are clear, the following indications should be followed:

  • Contract the pelvic floor muscles for 10 seconds, without contracting other muscles such as the buttocks or thigh muscles (which should not be moved). The sensation during contraction is that the pelvic floor muscles tighten and rise. It is possible that, at first, the contraction may not be maintained during this time. This is normal and, little by little, progress will be made.
  • Relax the muscles completely and rest before performing a new contraction.

In addition, it is important to mention that you should not hold your breath while doing Kegel exercises, but continue breathing normally.

In general, about 10 contractions (with corresponding relaxations) can be performed each time Kegel exercises are done. In addition, it is recommended to perform Kegel exercises three times a day.

Benefits of Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises can be beneficial for people who suffer from urinary or fecal incontinence, as well as for their prevention. In addition, these exercises are also very interesting:

  • To prevent prolapse or reduce its symptoms.
  • During pregnancy, as they may also facilitate childbirth.
  • After pregnancy, postpartum, to strengthen the pelvic floor.
  • Before certain gynecological (in women) or prostate (in men) surgeries.

On the other hand, Kegel exercises have also been attributed to benefits related to sexual health and pleasure, for both men and women.

It is usual that in a few weeks the benefits of Kegel exercises begin to be noticed. However, each person and each case is different. However, it will be necessary to perform the Kegel exercises correctly and consistently to make progress and see results.

Therefore, if you have any doubts or difficulties in performing Kegel exercises, it is best to consult a specialist. A physiotherapist specialized in pelvic floor will help the woman or man to perform the Kegel exercises correctly, as well as to adapt the pelvic floor training to the particular situation of the patient.

FAQs from users

Can Kegel exercises help me if I have fertility problems due to premature ejaculation?

By Guillermo Quea Campos M.D. (gynecologist).

One of the most frequent and untreated problems in men is premature ejaculation.

Kegel exercises consist of strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, specifically the pubococcygeus, which is responsible for retaining urine, but also for erection and ejaculation. Therefore, a muscle that is not worked will lead to urine leakage, erection difficulties and faster ejaculation.

Imagen: Pelvic floor muscle and male fertility

For this reason and with the help of a specialist, these exercises can improve urinary incontinence, better quality orgasms and control the moment of ejaculation, improving the confidence of the patient with this difficulty.

Do Kegel exercises really work?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, Kegel exercises work. Strengthening the pelvic floor has benefits for both women and men, although it is common to think that they can only be done by women.

However, if no results are seen after a few weeks of Kegel exercises, it may be that they are not being done correctly. It is therefore advisable to consult a physiotherapist who specialises in pelvic floor exercises. He or she will be able to assess whether Kegel exercises are being done properly and will be able to adapt the training to your particular case.

Are Kegel exercises good for menopause?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, ageing can lead to a weakening of the pelvic floor and related dysfunctions such as urinary incontinence. Therefore, doing Kegel exercises during menopause will help prevent these dysfunctions or improve their symptoms.

Can Kegel exercises be performed with a ball?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

Yes, you can do Kegel exercises sitting on a pilates ball, as long as you maintain good posture.

However, it is usually easier and more comfortable to start by doing the Kegel exercises lying down with your knees bent and, when you have some practice and some strength, to do the exercises sitting down.

Do Kegel exercises hurt?

By Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez B.Sc., M.Sc. (embryologist).

No, a woman or man should not feel pain when performing Kegel exercises. Therefore, if you experience discomfort when doing this pelvic floor training, it is advisable to consult a specialist for an assessment.

Suggested for you

If you are pregnant and are interested in learning more about physical exercise during pregnancy, we recommend you visit this link: Physical exercise in pregnancy: benefits and recommended sports.

On the other hand, if you want to read information about episiotomy and how to prevent it, you can access the following article: What is episiotomy and how can I prevent it in childbirth?

We make a great effort to provide you with the highest quality information.

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FAQs from users: 'Can Kegel exercises help me if I have fertility problems due to premature ejaculation?', 'Do Kegel exercises really work?', 'Are Kegel exercises good for menopause?', 'Can Kegel exercises be performed with a ball?' and 'Do Kegel exercises hurt?'.

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Authors and contributors

 Guillermo Quea Campos
Guillermo Quea Campos
Guillermo Quea, MD has a degree in Medicine and Surgery from the University of San Martin de Porres. He also has a Master's Degree in Human Reproduction from the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and another in Public Health and Preventive Medicine from the Universidad del País Vasco. More information about Guillermo Quea Campos
Member number: 282860962
 Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
B.Sc., M.Sc.
Graduate in Health Biology from the University of Alcalá and specialized in Clinical Genetics from the same university. Master in Assisted Reproduction by the University of Valencia in collaboration with IVI clinics. More information about Silvia Azaña Gutiérrez
License: 3435-CV
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