| Are Kegels The Same As Pelvic Floor Exercises?
Yes, pelvic floor exercises are also called Kegels exercise after the gynecologist Dr Kegel who invented them in the 1940s. Pelvic floor exercises are used to strengthen the muscles which surround the vagina, bottom and urethra (the tube which we pee out of). These muscles can become weakened overtime by childbirth, constipation, obesity and aging. The exercises involve tightening and then releasing the muscles around the vagina. They are so easy, they can be done sitting at your office desk! The challenge however is to identify which are the correct muscles to Kegel. One of the quickest ways is to sit on a toilet with your legs slightly apart. Start to urinate and then stop mid flow. The muscles you use to stop the flow are your pelvic floor muscles.
Why Do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
After Childbirth: The pelvic floor muscles become weakened after delivery and childbirth, so exercising them will keep them in shape. This helps to prevent post-delivery complications like a prolapsed uterus. See postpartum exercises for more specific advice.
Pregnancy Symptoms: It helps to relieve symptoms like hemorrhoids in pregnancy. The exercises are perfectly safe for pregnant women at any trimester.
Incontinence: They are used to treat stress urinary incontinence (SUI), where sneezing, coughing or laughing causes accidental leaks. This can occur at any age as the result of illness (such as a heart attack) or after childbirth. It is estimated that one third of all deliveries result in incontinence. Studies show that women who practice kegels regularly were 56 percent less likely to develop urinary incontinence in the third trimester. They were also 30 percent less likely to develop it in the postpartum period.
Menopause: They can help improve sexual desire in women suffering a low libido in menopause, as well as help them achieve orgasms more easily. They may also be recommended as part of a hysterectomy recovery program.
Sexual Enjoyment: Strengthening the muscles around the vagina helps women maintain a tighter 'grip' on a penis during intercourse. The partners of women who practice Kegels regularly are often amazed at the woman's renewed tightness. One of our readers described it as like 'having sex with a virgin'.
Course, if you're feeling particularly lazy you can always buy a Kegels Exerciser or Toner. This is a slim electrical device which looks like a large tampon. Insert it into the vagina, hit the start button and lie back and relax. The device runs through an 'exercise program' lasting between 20-45 minutes which gently works the pelvic floor muscles. Exercisers are not usually recommended however for pregnant women. Devices start around $40 and can go up to $150. Brand names include egel8 Ultra, Pelvexiser and Femme Elite.
• Need more information about pregnancy? See: Pregnancy Guide
• Got another question? See: Womens Health Questions
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