In 1952, Dr. Arnold Kegel invented a series of exercises to help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, a "sling" of muscles stretching along the pelvis. These muscles support your organs, keep your bladder closed and contract when you orgasm. As a result, weakness in these muscles can mean a less intense sexual climax, which is what Dr. Kegel discovered when he prescribed the exercises for bladder control; the exercises worked, but his patients also came back and reported a happy sexual side effect! Plus, although these exercises less often used by men, they produce some good results for them too.
Want to strengthen your love muscles? Here's how to get started.
Toys like LELO's new Smart Bead, which comes with a vibration-guided, pleasure-oriented strengthening routine, can help women strengthen their pelvic floor muscles.
Why Kegels WorkAs the pelvic floor muscles feature highly in orgasms, it comes as no surprise that strengthening them allows both men and women to have more intense orgasms. For women, these exercises can help them reach orgasm more easily and enjoy more intense orgasms. Kegel exercises also allow for increased circulation in the genital area, which means greater sensitivity and awareness. This includes not just the vagina, but also the outer labia and clitoris. (Learn more about the lady parts in 10 Things to Know About Vaginas.)
For men, strengthening the pelvic floor can help them gain more control over when they ejaculate, something that can increase the sexual experience both for them and their partners. Another perk for men: If a woman's pelvic floor muscles are sufficiently strengthened, she can contract her vagina around her partner's penis, increasing pleasure for both of them.
Kegel Exercises 101Before you attempt to perform a Kegel exercise, you must first find your pelvic floor muscles. The easiest way to do this is over the toilet: try to stop your urine mid-stream the next time you’re in the bathroom, using only the muscles centered around your genitals. Men should be able to see a slight movement in their penis when they contract those muscles. Women can also find these muscles - and test their strength - by sliding a finger into the vagina and flexing until they feel the walls clench around the finger. Got it? Those are the muscles you want to flex when doing your exercises.
A Kegel exercise essentially replicates the natural movement of orgasm, during which the pelvic floor muscles clench and unclench rhythmically. Kegel exercises can be performed in sets, building up from shorter to longer hold times. For example, you can squeeze for a few seconds and release for a single repetition, and then repeat 10 more times for a set. You could then do three sets spaced out throughout the day, building up each repetition by holding for a longer period of time. With each repetition, try to get into a nice rhythm by coordinating your breathing and holding and releasing at even intervals.
However many Kegels you do or how long you hold each one is entirely up to you and what you feel you’re capable of but keep in mind that as with any exercise, you need to challenge yourself in order to see improvement. The great thing about Kegel exercises, though, is that you don’t need a gym to do them. You can flex these babies in the subway or at the office. Do be patient though - it will take regular use of Kegel exercises and at least a few months before you see any noticeable improvement.
Upping Your GameSome women find that, just like lifting weights at a gym, adding increased resistance increase the effectiveness of their Kegels. This can be as simple as inserting a finger into the vagina and practicing the Kegels around that. There are also weights and other toys available to help you get stronger, such as Kegel, or Ben Wa, balls. You might even be surprised by how strong these babies can get. Tatiata Kozhevnikova holds the world record for lifting 31 pounds using only her vagina. You probably don't need to take it quite that far. Suffice it to say that those little muscles can do a lot more than you think!
Whether you're looking to improve your sex life or just your physical health, the key is to make Kegel exercises a routine by incorporating them into your daily life, whether it’s before bed or on your way to work. There are many benefits to Kegel exercises, including helping women handle the weight of pregnancy, improving stress incontinence, and generally strengthening your bladder and bowels. And better orgasms? Well, now, we'd say that's just the icing on the cake!