Some women may have heard the term “kegel” mentioned in passing from friends at the gym, a women’s happy hour or a baby shower. Many women, however, have never been introduced to the concept, and certainly not educated on it. For such an important topic regarding women’s health, we’re on a mission to leave no woman behind when it comes to kegel exercises and building a strong pelvic floor. It’s critical to your health.
Here’s why: Kegel exercises strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which are responsible for a number of necessary bodily functions that keep a woman’s body healthy. A weak pelvic floor can result in any combination of the following issues: incontinence, a dysfunction where the bladder leaks urine; organ prolapse, when the pelvic organs fall causing any number of undesirable symptoms; vaginal dryness, vaginal looseness, and sexual discontent. Women need to become educated on this topic to improve their physical condition and for more enjoyable participation in physical activities in everyday life.
What is a Kegel?
A kegel is an exercise first introduced in the late 1940’s named after a German doctor of the same name. Dr. Kegel discovered that his patients were suffering from weak vaginal muscles and that they needed a method to strengthen those vaginal muscles. He created a routine of isometric squeezing that worked to increase strength in the vaginal canal. Medical studies from around the world have since verified the results many times over.
Isometric squeezing is the contraction of a muscle upon command without the use of weight resistance. As an example of isometric exercise, contract your bicep right now, without the help of movement or weight. You contract the muscle by tightening it. In a kegel exercise, you will be asking the muscles of the pelvic floor (think vaginal canal and the perineum) to contract. For this to be effective, a woman must spend a significant amount of time kegel exercising each day. The recommended kegel exercise routine from Mayo Clinic is as follows:
Contract the muscles of the pelvic floor and hold for 10 seconds and relax for an equivalent time. Repeat this process 10 times, at least 3 times per day.
Decades of independent research studies confirm that exercising the muscles of the pelvic floor will treat and prevent incontinence (urinary, fecal, gas), organ prolapse (bladder, rectum, uterus), and sexual dysfunction (dryness, laxity, orgasm).
While some urologists, gynecologists, and urogynecologists recommend to patients a kegel exercise routine to treat and prevent any of the concerns mentioned above, many physicians never suggest kegel exercises to their patients at all. In fact, a recent study by doctors at the University of Pennsylvania discovered that only 5% of clinic websites offer advice on how to treat sexual dysfunction even though kegels are well known to successfully treat many forms of sexual dysfunction.
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