Kegel Exercises: A Guide To Strengthening The Pelvic Floor For Men And Women
Present in the lower part of the body, the pelvic floor is a group of muscles within the pelvis, which extends from the pubic bone in the front of the body to the tailbone at the back. All these muscles encompass the pelvic floor organs, including the bladder, rectum, uterus, and vagina or prostate.
The pelvic floors also work with the back and abdominal muscles to support and stabilize the spine. They help control urination, and bowel movements, as well as help, prevent premature ejaculation. Strong pelvic floors play an essential role in healthy sexual function.
You face many problems when the pelvic floor muscles become weak or compressed. It mainly includes spontaneous leaking or incontinence of urine and stool and lower back pain.
In some people, a weak pelvic floor can also cause premature ejaculation. In more severe cases, the pelvic organs may slide down from their normal position or move forward slightly, causing pain and discomfort. Pelvic floor disorders are more common in women, but men are no exception and can sometimes experience severe problems.
The risk of developing pelvic floor dysfunction or disorders generally increases with age. Still, pelvic floor problems are not a normal part of aging. It is usually more visible after age 40, but some people experience a weak pelvic floor even before that. Unfortunately, there is little awareness about the conditions, symptoms, and treatments associated with pelvic floor disorders, due to which people do not understand the problem at the right time, or do not get the right treatment.
How To Detect Pelvic Floor Muscles In Women
When you're concerned about the pelvic floor and considering starting Kegel exercises for the first time, finding the right set of those muscles can be tricky. However, there are a few methods you can try to find them.
Stand up straight, place a clean finger or two inside your vagina, and then compress your vaginal muscles around your finger; the muscle that you feel with your fingers contracting could be the pelvic floor muscle.
When you go to urinate, try to hold your urine in the middle. And try to tighten the muscles of the front (genital) and anus, leaving the thighs, butt, and abdomen lost; during this, you will feel that the pelvic floor muscles are contracting. What it feels like when the muscles contract then can be judged by what the correct pelvic floor muscle is.
However, you must note that you should only use this method for learning and understanding purposes. Holding your urine is not a good idea, as incomplete emptying of the bladder can increase the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI).
If you think you are having difficulty locating the pelvic floor muscles, talk to your gynecologist. They may advise you to use an object called a vaginal cone. By which the pelvic floor muscle can be detected.
One way is biofeedback. Biofeedback training (test) helps you identify your pelvic floor muscles. In this procedure, a doctor or specialist inserts a small probe into your vagina or places adhesive electrodes on the outside of your vagina or anus. And then you'll be asked to try Kegels, in which you compress the pelvic floor muscles, displayed on a monitor, and shows whether you have contracted the correct muscles. And how long were you able to hold the contractions of those muscles?
How To Detect Pelvic Floor Muscles In Men
Like women, men also have trouble identifying the right group of pelvic floor muscles. One way to find the pelvic floor muscles in men is to insert a finger into the rectum and try to squeeze it. Keep in mind that while doing this, do not tighten the muscles of the stomach, buttocks, or thighs at all; let them remain in a relaxed posture.
Another way is to tense the muscles that keep you from passing gas.
Stopping the urine flow is the best way to locate the pelvic floor muscles. It is a reliable method of finding the pelvic floor muscles in men and women. But remember that it should not be done as a regular practice.
Like women, biofeedback is helpful for men to explore the pelvic floor muscles. If you have trouble estimating the pelvic floor muscle accurately, then feel free to contact your doctor and specialist. He will give you better suggestions.
Symptoms Of A Weak Pelvic Floor Or Pelvic Floor Disorder
Pelvic floor disorders can occur in different stages. Still, most commonly, a pelvic floor disorder occurs when the muscles that support and stabilize the pelvic organs become weak or damaged and cannot contract or relax.
Some important things to include in the symptoms of pelvic floor problems:
Frequent urge to urinate
Pain while urinating
Spontaneous leaking of urine
Pelvic pressure or heaviness
Pain in the pelvic floor, genitals, or rectum
Excrement of feces
Lower back pain
Pain and difficulty during intercourse
Many of these symptoms can also be caused by other causes or diseases and are not necessarily due to a pelvic floor disorder. Therefore, you should always consult a doctor or specialist and be properly assessed for problems.
Causes Affecting The Pelvic Floor
Many factors can affect your pelvic floor, mainly including:
Body weight gain
Lifting heavy goods
Sitting for a long time
Wake up in a jiffy
Pregnancy and childbirth
Hormonal changes during menopause
Injury to the pelvic floor from a fall, surgery, or trauma
Other neurological problems and disorders, such as Parkinson's disease or multiple sclerosis.
Treatment For Weak Pelvic Floor Or Pelvic Floor Disorders
Suppose you are experiencing a weak pelvic floor or other related problems, especially the inability to control your bowel or bladder. So you contact your doctor and a pelvic floor therapist; they will help you eliminate the issues.
However, for those experiencing mild pelvic floor symptoms, specific daily exercise can be an excellent way to strengthen these muscles and keep your pelvic floor healthy. However, doing inappropriate exercises for your particular situation can make problems worse.
I will recommend different exercises depending on whether your pelvic floor muscles are weak or tight. Before starting any pelvic exercise, you should seek guidance from a doctor or pelvic floor therapist. You will not notice a difference as soon as you start exercising. It may take a few days or months to feel the improvement, especially if those pelvic floor muscles are more vulnerable.
What Is Kegel Exercise?
Kegel exercises are the most effective way to strengthen and repair the pelvic floor muscles. Kegel exercises are simple clench-and-release exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Your pelvis is the area between your hips, which holds your reproductive organs and the anus region and extends from front to back.
A pelvic floor is a group and series of muscles and tissues forming a sling or hammock under your pelvis. This sling keeps your genitals and surrounding organs fixed in the right place. A weak pelvic floor makes it difficult to control your bowels or bladder, which leads to the leakage of urine and stool; sometimes, it is also responsible for early ejaculation.
Once you understand and get used to Kegel exercises, you can easily do them anytime and anywhere, even standing up.
Why Is Kegel Exercise Done?
The pelvic floor muscles support the genitals, womb, bladder, and intestines. If the pelvic floor muscles are weak, these pelvic organs can come down in a woman unable to support those organs. Due to this, many discomforts can arise, including urinary and stool incontinence.
The weak pelvic floor causes urinary and stool incontinence in men or difficulty controlling ejaculation during intercourse. Especially if men have had prostate surgery, then this problem is seen.
Goals And Benefits Of Kegel Exercises
At the beginning of Kegel exercises, you must focus on a few things prominently. Always empty your bladder before starting Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises mainly involve tightening the pelvic floor muscles and returning them to a relaxed position. But the point of practice is that while doing it, you only have to contract and release the pelvic floor muscles. And only then does it become a good practice.
Doing Kegel exercises in the right way helps a lot in strengthening the pelvic floor. When you start doing Kegel exercises, contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold them for 5 to 15 seconds, then release them back into a relaxed position for 5 to 15 seconds. And do this for 10 to 15 repetitions. It is your exercise regimen, so your goal should be three to five sets of 10 to 15 repetitions daily.
Don't get discouraged if you don't get the desired results immediately because it may take up to a few months for it to take effect. Also, exercises do different things for each person according to their body. In some people, its desired results are seen in a few days, while in others, it is seen to be effective after months of practice.
Certainly, Kegels done in the right way can prevent your condition from getting worse.
Kegel exercises primarily focus on both lifting and releasing the pelvic floor.
It may be a bit difficult to detect pelvic floor muscles in the beginning. Still, Kegel exercises are done regularly to help in seeing it. Although some consider Kegels beneficial for women's health, this exercise also benefits men.
When starting Kegels, remain relaxed, regardless of the position in which you are doing it. Begin by taking a few slow and deep breaths in and out while relaxing your body. Leave the body completely loose.
Take a deep breath, and hold your breath for a while. As you exhale, tighten your anus and vagina, lift them both inwards and upwards towards your navel, and compress as if you are stopping the urine flow. Avoid pulling your buttocks, thigh, and abdominal muscles during this time. It may seem not easy initially, but gradually after some practice, you will be able to do it quickly.
Try to take it to the next level after the initial stage. With your next inhale, drop your pelvic floor back to the resting position, ensuring you're doing it correctly. And then repeat it 4-5 times in a mild form without any pressure.
The next day or next step, try to hold the breath for 15 to 30 seconds and hold it for 15 to 45 seconds as you compress the pelvic floor. As you get used to the exercise, increase it for 5 to 10 seconds or as you like. You gradually increase it to 10-15 repetitions. And can rest for 5-15 seconds between repetitions. You can do this several times a day as per your convenience.
You can also practice this while passing urine. When you urinate, stop after passing urine for a few seconds and compress your pelvic floor muscles. In the initial phase, you hold for 5 to 10 seconds and later increase it. And try to pull upwards. Remember that you only have to contract the muscles of your genitals and anus, during which your thighs, butt, and abdominal muscles should be in the same position. Men and women can do this exercise in a way.
Once you become more comfortable, you can do Kegels exercises anywhere and in any position. Also, try to contract the pelvic floor muscles whenever you sneeze, cough, or lift something heavy.
Be careful not to stop emptying the bladder to perform the exercise. Incomplete emptying of the bladder can increase the risk of urinary tract infection (UTI) or other disorders.
Kegel's exercises aren't the only way to strengthen the pelvic floor. Other exercises focusing on the hips, buttocks, and abdominals are also helpful in maintaining the pelvic floor.