Kegel Exercises: How to Tone Vaginal Muscles
We often associate Kegel exercises with new moms who wish to tone up loose vaginal muscles after giving birth, or with women with specific medical conditions, such urinary incontinence or a prolapsed uterus.
But, according to Edwin Huang, MD, a gynecologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Kegel exercises are a great idea for all women. "Everybody should do them," says Dr. Huang. Kegel exercise benefit women regardless of age or medical history, but for women with certain issues, Kegel exercise is particularly important.
Learn more about the benefits of Kegels, how to do the exercises, and who should make Kegel exercises a part of their daily routine.
Who Can Benefit From Kegel Exercises?
Kegels are exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles support the bladder, vagina, uterus, and rectum. Kegel exercises are particularly useful to the following groups of women:
* Women who are pregnant and post-partum. "All women who are pregnant or who have just had a baby should do Kegels," Huang says. Kegel exercises help tone loose vaginal muscles for women who have just had a baby. And for women who are preparing for delivery, keeping their pelvic muscles strong can help prevent urine leakage at the end of pregnancy, a common complaint, and can make the later months of pregnancy a more comfortable experience in general.
* Women who have urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is defined as the loss of bladder control. There are many types of urinary incontinence, and Kegel exercises can be helpful for some of them. Talk with your doctor to see if Kegel exercises would help your incontinence.
* Women who want to prevent a prolapsed uterus. A "prolapsed uterus" describes a condition that occurs when a woman's uterus starts to slip down from its usual place inside the body, through the cervix and into the vagina. A prolapsed uterus is less likely to occur in women with strong pelvic floor muscles. Women who have delivered children vaginally and postmenopausal women are at higher risk of developing uterine prolapse.
* Women with jobs that require heavy lifting. Women should do Kegel exercises if they have careers in industries that require heavy lifting, such as delivery and manufacturing. Huang has recommended Kegel exercise to several patients who work for delivery companies, saying that "the lifting and straining required by these jobs can sometimes lead to prolapse."
* Healthy women who are not pregnant. As we age, our muscles tend to loose tone and become weaker, and the vaginal muscles are not exempt. But the good news is that we can minimize this with regular Kegel exercise.
How to Do Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are done by squeezing the muscles in the pelvic floor and holding for short periods of time. To begin you need to:
* Find the right muscles. One way to isolate the right muscle is by trying to stop the flow of urine the next time you go to the bathroom. The muscle you use to do that is the muscle you should engage while doing a Kegel. Another way to test is to put your finger into your vaginaand try to squeeze it. Don't be afraid to ask your gynecologist for help if you're having a hard time finding the right muscle. The key is to isolate these pelvic floor muscles and use them alone. It's easy to squeeze the muscles in the buttocks and abdomen at the same time, so pay attention to your body and make sure you're working the right muscle.
* Start slow and build up. If you're new to Kegel exercise, start slow. Squeeze your pelvic muscle and hold for two to four seconds, then relax. Try to repeat 5 to 10 times. As this exercise gets easier, you can hold for longer periods of time and do increased repetitions.
* Do your Kegels regularly: Once you have the technique down, you can do Kegel exercises any time and any place that you like. For instance, you could do a set every time you check your e-mail, or when you're waiting for the bus, or stuck in traffic.
While certain women stand to benefit more, all women can benefit from Kegel exercise; Add it to you fitness regimen today.
Possibly related posts: