Arms, abs, and glutes are often the target of workouts. But the pelvic floor, while not quite as prominent as those muscles, is not to be forgotten in your strength routine, says Alyssa Dweck, MD, an OB/GYN in New York. Because just as your triceps need to be worked regularly, so do your muscles down below.
Enter: Kegel exercises.
“Kegels are like strength training exercises for the pelvic floor muscles,” says Dr. Dweck. “Over time with regular practice and repetition, these muscles become toned and stronger.”
This is important because, with age, kids, and certain genetic factors, those muscles can weaken over time. ”Pelvic organs—uterus, cervix, bladder, and rectum—can become somewhat relaxed, causing discomfort, bulging from the vagina, and even worse, urine leakage,” Dr. Dweck said. Translation: these muscles are what helps keep everything in, and if they get weak, you may find yourself peeing a little when you sneeze, laugh, or run.
And aside from the whole keeping you from wetting your pants thing (it happens to the best of us!), strengthening your pelvic floor can also have a positive impact on your sex life: enhancing overall sexual function and intensifying your climax. Since orgasms are achieved by contracting your pelvic floor, by strengthening those muscles, you’re setting yourself up for a more pleasurable experience. (Yes, please!)
For both your health and enhanced pleasure, we asked Dr. Dweck to share everything you need to know about Kegel exercises, including how to add them to your daily routine. Unlike your usual workouts, you won’t even break a sweat.
How to Do Kegel Exercises
The first step is, of course, finding the muscles themselves. Since they’re not visible, they can be a little hard to locate. Imagine that you really have to use the bathroom. Tightly squeeze your pelvis, as you would in an emergency situation, like on a road trip or in a never-ending meeting. Those muscles that you’re engaging make up your pelvic floor, Dr. Dweck says.
By doing this, you’ve already got one Kegel down.
Now, repeat that same squeezing motion, remaining in the contracted position for at least 10 seconds. Then, relax and repeat. As you’re doing this, try to keep from holding your breath or contracting your abdominals, Dr. Dweck says, as that can prevent you from fully working the muscles down below. If you’re unsure if you’re doing it right, a pelvic floor specialist or your OB/GYN can help provide further instruction.
Just like with other workouts, you won’t see results from just one session.
“Regular Kegels are the most effective,” Dr. Dweck says. Aim to do between 10 to 30 of the above every day. Since they’re inconspicuous, you can sneak in a few throughout the day, while sitting at your desk or on your lunch break. And with a regular routine, you should start seeing some benefits (in your sexual and urinary health) within two to three weeks, she says, so you can start reaping all the health benefits of a good toe-curling orgasm ASAP.