Some women do them in the car at stop lights; some do them while making dinner; others while sitting in meetings. We’re talking Kegels. Pronounced kay-guls, Kegels a are shortened form of Kegel exercises. They’re named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, who in the 1940s developed exercises which consist of contracting and relaxing muscles inside the pelvic region. Now many people just refer to them as Kegels.
Kegels are good for what ails you if you experience a little leakage after sneezing or while doing jumping jacks. In fact, they’re not only helpful when suffering from mild incontinence; they can prepare your muscles for pregnancy. And drum roll please, Kegel exercises can even increase sexual gratification.
The goal of Kegel exercises is to improve muscle tone by strengthening the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle. The PC muscle is a hammock-like muscle, found in both sexes, that stretches from the pubic bone to the tail bone. It helps form the pelvic floor which supports the uterus, bladder and bowel. Its job is controlling urine flow and contracting during orgasm. It also helps with urinary control and childbirth.
Pregnancy, childbirth, aging, being overweight and abdominal surgery, such as cesarean section, can result in weakened pelvic muscles. This in turn can lead to incontinence.
Kegel exercises allow you to retrain and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and fight off mild incontinence. You can even do them when you're pregnant. Stronger pelvic muscles help during delivery. When done regularly and properly, Kegels are highly successful in toning up the muscles. By learning to contract these muscles at will, you can also postpone or intensify orgasm.
There are numerous websites offering step-by-step instructions on Kegel exercises. Essentially it is a repetition of clenching and unclenching muscles in the pelvic region. The basic move is like stopping and starting the flow of urine.
When doing Kegel exercises properly – and regularly – many women can expect to alleviate mild urinary stress incontinence within eight to 12 weeks. For some, the improvement can be dramatic.