Fitness and Training

What Are Kegel Exercises?

Many people don’t bother paying attention to their pelvic floor. But this region plays many roles that make it worthy of a second look. The pelvic floor is a bowl of muscles that form the bottom of the pelvic cavity and support the uterus, bladder, and rectum and help us control bodily functions like urination, defecation, and vaginal delivery,” explains Wendy Goodall McDonald, MD, a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist in Chicago.

Like other muscles, the ones in your pelvic floor need to be worked regularly to stay strong and fit. This helps them do their jobs efficiently and effectively. One way to support pelvic floor health is to perform Kegel exercises.

Here’s what Kegels are, their benefits, and how to do them.What Are Kegel Exercises?
“The purpose of Kegel exercises is to strengthen the pelvic floor,” says Amy Wetter, MD, a board-certified gynecologist at Northside Women’s Specialists in Atlanta. These exercises involve tightening and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles as though you were stopping and restarting the flow of pee.

According to the Cleveland Clinic, Kegel exercises can help with issues caused by weak pelvic floor muscles, including urinary incontinence (leaking pee) and accidentally passing gas and stool. These issues tend to be more common in older adults and people who have given birth.

Strong pelvic muscles may help with childbirth and recovery. In addition, Kegels may make sex more pleasurable.

You don’t need a gym membership or any special equipment for Kegel exercises. You can do them anywhere, anytime, and perform them sitting, standing, or lying down. So, you can do Kegels when it’s most convenient for you, but it’s best to do them consistently. “Kegel exercises are meant to be performed daily,” Dr. Wetter says. “Like any muscle in the body, you need consistent, repetitive activity to see results.”The general recommendation is to do Kegels three times per day. Aim for three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions, per Mayo Clinic.

But Kegel exercises may not be beneficial for everyone. “While individuals suffering from a weak pelvic floor or urine leakage can benefit from Kegels, they are not a one-size-fits-all exercise,” explains Tamara Grisales, MD, a board-certified gynecologist in female pelvic medicine at the Center for Women’s Pelvic Health at UCLA in Los Angeles. For example, women who experience painful sex may not benefit from Kegel exercises, she says. Kegel exercises may cause the vaginal muscles to tighten too much, causing pain during intercourse.

Kegel exercises are designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which support certain organs. “A healthy pelvic floor is critical, as these muscles provide a flexible, hammock-like support to major organs like the bladder, uterus, and rectum and contract or close around the urethra and rectum to hold in urine, feces, and gas,” says Dr. Grisales.

According to a systematic review of 18 randomized controlled trials, Kegels can also treat pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which one or more pelvic organs (vagina, uterus, bladder, and rectum) sag, which affects up to 50 percent of women over the age of 50.

But treatment for pelvic organ prolapse involves more than doing Kegels. People with pelvic organ prolapse work with a physical therapist who will assess their condition, create an individualized treatment plan, and provide feedback during follow-up appointments. Some people may need surgery if physical therapy doesn’t relieve symptoms, notes Harvard Health.

Source: everydayhealth

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