While you probably try to get your daily steps in or hit up a spin class once a week, do you ever think about doing your daily Kegel exercises? Yup, we’re referring to the workout for your pelvic floor – commonly known as vagina exercise – aka when you squeeze your vaginal muscles that you use to pee.
Most of us know that we should do them, but honestly, we weren’t aware of the full extent of their health benefits. For the full 411 on Kegel exercises, we spoke to Rebecca Booth, M.D Gynecologist, Co-Founder of VENeffect Anti-Aging Skin Care, and Mary Jane Minkin, Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences at the Yale University School of Medicine. These women are in the know, and they Kegel daily (go figure)! Here’s everything you need to know:
Hold up, what exactly are Kegel exercises?
Dr. Booth explains “Kegels are a simple way to strengthen the pelvic floor, increase blood flow to the area, as well as give you more vaginal and bladder control.”
The benefits of Kegel exercises
Dr. Booth explains “Kegel exercises are used to strengthen the muscles that surround the openings of the urethra, vagina, and rectum. Doing these exercises regularly may improve a leaky bladder, strengthen the vaginal muscles, and fight the effect of gravity on our pelvic floor. Plus, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles may help reduce the risk of bladder leaks, a common problem for women as we have a short, relatively straight urethra and gravity is unrelenting!” So basically, put in the effort now and you’ll not only reap the immediate rewards that it can have (Dr. Minkin says “One’s partner will enjoy you doing Kegels”) but also later in life.
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Kegel 101: How to do Kegel exercises
The actual exercise requires concentration, as you want to make sure you’re tensing the vaginal muscles, not your butt. Here are Dr. Booth’s Kegel guidelines:
- Squeeze the muscles that you use to stop the flow of urine (you do not have to stop the urine flow, just squeeze these familiar muscles). This contraction pulls the vagina and rectum up and back.
- Hold for three seconds, and then relax for three seconds.
- Do 10 contractions three times a day.
- Increase your hold by 1 second each week. Work your way up to 10-second holds.
“Make sure you are not squeezing your stomach, thigh, or buttock muscles. You also should breathe normally, don’t hold your breath as you do these exercises.” She adds it’s important not to stress too much over your technique as, “The important thing to remember is that the effort is what counts… You do not have to be perfect: if you cannot stop your urine flow it does not mean you are doing the exercises incorrectly.”
How often shall I do Kegel exercises?
Dr. Minkin says “I always say to patients it’s like advertisements for the musical CATS “Now and forever.” Do them whenever you can. One should set a goal of three sets of ten a day. I encourage women to do them when they’re stopped at a red light or my own favorite: when you pump gas into your car; every time you hear a click, do a Kegel. It can enhance your bladder control.” Dr. Booth agrees on the frequency of practicing Kegel exercises, and also points out; “The good news is that no one needs to know you’re doing them. Like Tina Fey said: ‘Great News; I am never NOT Kegeling.”
How to up your Kegel game:
The beauty world is obsessing over female wellness tools atm, and one of the latest must-have tools is a gadget to enhance your Kegel exercises. Dr. Minkin tells us “There are many gadgets available that can help; a website like Medamour has numerous options,” like the Elvie, $199, which is an award-winning tool. The device is accompanied by an app, which is used to track Kegel strength: As the muscles work, the on-screen gem lifts so you can see your pelvic floor exercises in real time. Whereas the Lelo Luna Beads, $59, are simply inserted into your vagina and the weighted balls vibrate slightly in response to your body’s movement.
Although, Dr. Booth does admit “There’s less evidence that tools are effective, but the GyneFlex vaginal device was invented by a physician and has been used successfully by many women for years. For bladder leaks or weak vaginal muscles, I always encourage physical therapy with a specialist trained in pelvic floor strengthening. The biofeedback from a good therapist is extremely useful, and has proven benefits for women.”
Do you do Kegel exercises? Let us know in the comments below!