Kegel exercise, sometimes done with vaginal weights, Kegel exercise tools, or other Kegel products, strengthens the pelvic floor muscles.
You may have learned these exercises if you had children. The pelvic floor muscles are even more important as we age, to support the uterus, bladder and bowel, to discourage incontinence and encourage orgasm in our later years.
When our pelvic floor muscles weaken, our uterus, bladder, and/or bowel can descend or bulge—called a prolapse—into the vagina. Symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse include uncomfortable pressure and changes in bladder and bowel function.
Weak pelvic floor muscles mean weak orgasms too.
Luckily, strengthening your pelvic floor muscles is easy to do, and even pleasurable once you get the hang of it.
First, find the right muscles. To do that, the next time you need to urinate, stop and start the flow of urine. The same muscles you use to stop that flow are the muscles you want to exercise. Or, try this: Insert one or two fingers inside your vagina and squeeze them. When you feel your vagina tighten, you have the right muscles. Relax those muscles, then flex them again to fix them in your memory. If you have trouble finding the right muscles consistently, see number 6 below.
Time to exercise! Start with an empty bladder. Sit, stand, or lie down to do your exercises—whatever is comfortable for you.
Contract your muscles and hold for five seconds; completely relax your muscles for five seconds. Repeat the contraction/relaxation exercise ten times.
Check your focus on isolating the pelvic floor muscles. Remember to breathe, and don’t flex your abdominal, thigh, or buttock muscles.
When you are comfortable with five-second contractions, add another second to your contraction cycles. Work your way up to ten-second contractions and ten-second rest periods.
Consider adding Kegel weights (balls or barbells), which are inserted in the vagina before or while performing the exercises. Weights work the same way they do for any other muscle group, helping you isolate the correct muscles and giving you an object to focus on. It’s easy to feel a vaginal weight shift as you flex your muscles.
If these instructions sound complicated, don’t hesitate to ask your menopause care provider or gynecologist for help learning to do your Kegel exercises. They are so important for pelvic health, it’s important to do them correctly.