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The Facts About Kegels

Find out how Kegels affect your sexual health.

A woman in black activewear does kegel exercises on a brown mat.

Kegels are exercises women and men can do to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles. These exercises can have benefits that range from longer and stronger orgasms to helping premature ejaculation (PE) and erectile dysfunction (ED) to treating stress incontinence and more.

Kegels can be practiced by tensing the muscles you would use to stop urinating midstream. Essentially, you tense the pelvic floor muscles for a few seconds, release for a few seconds and do a few sets each day. Alternate between fast and slow contractions for maximum effectiveness. Results can be detected within a few weeks or months.

The history of Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises were named after Arnold Kegel, a gynecologist who recommended that his patients do these exercises to treat urinary incontinence. Some women found these exercises also improved their sexual functioning.

Later, researchers discovered there were benefits for men to do these exercises, too.

The routine for these exercises is simple: Contract and relax the muscles you use to stop urinating several times each session, and perform several sessions per day. Some doctors advise patients to do Kegels during commercial breaks while watching TV or while sitting at stoplights.

Why should you do Kegels?

Like any muscle in the body, pelvic floor muscles are stronger when you use them regularly. They can weaken as you get older or go through menopause or pregnancy. Prostate surgery can weaken them, too.

The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for keeping your bladder and your bowel healthy. If you have a healthy pelvic floor, you're less likely to experience problems such as incontinence, weak orgasms and erectile dysfunction.

Stronger pelvic floor muscles can improve your sexual health and bladder control, and decrease back pain. Plus, you'll feel more confident knowing you can control your body.

Urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a common condition that affects people of all ages. It can result from childbirth, aging, surgery or medical conditions, such as diabetes, obesity or prostate surgery. Urinary incontinence can be caused by a weakened pelvic floor that cannot fully contract and close the urethra.

Incontinence can be improved by strengthening the pelvic floor. People experiencing urinary incontinence should consult their doctor before doing Kegel exercises, because they may need treatment and/or medication to treat incontinence. Doing Kegel exercises may help ease the symptoms of incontinence, but it is not a complete cure.

What is the best way to perform Kegel exercises?

You can experiment with Kegels while sitting or standing, but the easiest way to find the muscles you're going to need to engage is to first practice during urination. Don't make a habit of practicing Kegels during urination, however. And work up to a more intense routine.

Find the right muscles

The next time you're using the bathroom, try stopping the flow of urine by tensing the muscles around your urethra. You also want to clench the muscles around your anus, as if you're trying to hold in flatulence. If you still can't find the muscles, try placing a finger behind your testicles or vagina and in front of your anus while stopping urination. Now you're ready to practice Kegels wherever you are.

Practice often

Practicing these exercises a few times a day is best. Tense the muscles for five seconds, then relax. Repeat 10 to 20 times, and do this two to three times each day. Breathe while you're doing these exercises and try to focus on the right muscles.

Add intensity

As you get more confident that you are contracting the correct muscles, you can add intensity to your exercise routine. For example, you can try contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles more quickly, or you can add resistance to your exercise routine by squeezing a ball between your knees.

Benefits for men

Premature ejaculation

About 1 in 3 men suffer from premature ejaculation (PE), defined as ejaculating sooner than you or your partner would prefer. If a man ejaculates within two minutes of penetration or before his partner has an orgasm, he could have PE.

Kegel exercises can help men with premature ejaculation by increasing the strength of the pelvic floor muscles and their control of them. Once you've located the pelvic floor muscles by stopping urination midstream, squeeze these muscles during sex for three seconds. This should help slow down the oncoming ejaculation and help you last longer.

Erectile function

Studies suggest men who do Kegel exercises are more likely to maintain erectile function as they age, possibly because these exercises maintain the integrity of the pelvic floor muscles, which are essential for erections.

Kegel exercises can also help improve the quality of erections by improving blood flow to the pelvic region. Kegels target the bulbocavernosus muscle in the pelvic floor, which is responsible for strong erections and pumping semen during ejaculation.

Benefits for women

Preparing for labor

The pelvic floor muscles must contract strongly during childbirth, so it's important they be in good shape. If the pelvic floor muscles are too relaxed, they may not be able to adequately contract and help push the baby out. Exercises such as Kegels can help women prepare for childbirth by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles.


The pelvic floor muscles help maintain urinary and fecal continence even after menopause. As the body ages, the pelvic floor muscles can weaken, which may lead to urinary incontinence. This experience is particularly common after childbirth. For postmenopausal women, Kegel exercises can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and even result in stronger orgasms.

Other exercises for the pelvic floor

While Kegels are the best-known exercises for the pelvic floor, other exercises also improve pelvic floor strength. Exercises that strengthen the glutes, as well as abdominal and lower back muscles, can also make your pelvic floor healthier.

Try tensing and releasing the gluteal muscles, abs and hip flexors during the day. You can do this while sitting at your desk or lying down. You can add resistance to these exercises by using a small ball or a rubber band. Squeeze and release these muscles for five to 10 seconds at a time.


What do Kegels do?

Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Kegels can be used to prevent urinary incontinence in everyone, and premature ejaculation and erectile dysfunction in men. Women may benefit from Kegels during and after menopause and when they are preparing for labor.

Doing Kegel exercises on a regular basis can also make sex more pleasurable for both partners and improve your confidence.

How do you perform proper Kegels?

You can do Kegels by acting like you are stopping urination midstream. Clench your urethral muscles and the muscles around your anus for five seconds, then release for five seconds. Do this 10 to 20 times, two to three times a day.

Do Kegel exercises make you tighter?

Yes, Kegels can help strengthen the pelvic floor and tighten your vagina within six to eight weeks of doing the exercises. Kegels can also result in better sexual satisfaction and confidence.