The aim of Kegel exercises is to improve muscle tone by strengthening the pubococcygeus muscles of the pelvic floor. Kegel is a popular prescribed exercise for pregnant women to prepare the pelvic floor for physiological stresses of the later stages of pregnancy and vaginal childbirth. Kegel exercises are said to be good for treating vaginal prolapse and preventing uterine prolapse in women and for treating prostate pain and swelling resulting from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatitis in men. Kegel exercises may be beneficial in treating urinary incontinence in both men and women. Kegel exercises may also increase sexual gratification.
A Kegel exerciser is a medical device designed to be used by women to exercise the pubococcygeus muscle (also called the PC muscle). There are three main types: barbells, springs, and rubber bulbs. The barbells (or vaginal barbell) can be used as a vaginal exerciser or as a vaginal dildo or sex toy. Made of smooth, polished solid stainless steel, it is cylindrical in shape, with a rounded bulge at each end. They typically weigh one pound (454g) and measure approximately 6¾ inches (17.1 cm) in length with a diameter of one inch (2.5 cm) at the widest part. Being made of stainless steel, vaginal barbells are nonporous and can be wiped clean with a cloth moistened with mild soap and water. Spring devices are made of plastic, with removable springs to allow progressive resistance. These allow pressing directly against resistance. An advantage of rubber bulb devices is that they provide visual feedback (via a gauge) of how much pressure you are applying.
Benefits for womenEdit
Factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, aging, being overweight, and abdominal surgery such as cesarean section, often result in the weakening of the pelvic muscles. This can be assessed by either digital examination of vaginal pressure or using a Kegel perineometer. Kegel exercises are useful in regaining pelvic floor muscle strength in such cases.
The consequences of weakened pelvic floor muscles may include urinary or bowel incontinence, which may be helped by therapeutic strengthening of these muscles. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that "PFMT [Pelvic floor muscle training] be included in first-line conservative management programs for women with stress, urge, or mixed, urinary incontinence...The treatment effect might be greater in middle aged women (in their 40's and 50's) with stress urinary incontinence alone...".
The exercises are also often used to help prevent prolapse of pelvic organs. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that "there is some encouragement from a feasibility study that pelvic floor muscle training, delivered by a physiotherapist to symptomatic women in an outpatient setting, may reduce severity of prolapse".
Benefits for menEdit
Though most commonly used by women, men can also use Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises are employed to strengthen the pubococcygeal muscle and other muscles of the pelvic diaphragm. Kegels can help men achieve stronger erections and gain greater control over ejaculation. The objective of this may be similar to that of the exercise in women with weakened pelvic floor: to increase bladder and bowel control and sexual function.
Regarding postprostatectomy urinary incontinence, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by the Cochrane Collaboration found that "there may be some benefit of offering pelvic floor muscle training with biofeedback early in the postoperative period immediately following removal of the catheter as it may promote an earlier return to continence".
Kegel workouts can provide men with stronger erections. Research published in 2005 issue of BJU International, have shown that pelvic floor exercises could help restore erectile function in men with erectile disfunction. There are said to be significant benefits for the problem of premature ejaculation from having more muscular control of the pelvis. It is also possible that strengthening the pelvic floor may allow some men to achieve a form of orgasm without allowing ejaculation, and thereby perhaps reach multiple "climaxes" during sexual activity.  In men, this exercise lifts up the testicles, also strengthening the cremaster muscle, as well as the anal sphincter, as the anus is the main area contracted when a Kegel is done. This is because the pubococcygeus muscle begins around the anus and runs up to the urinary sphincter.
- ↑ eMedicineHealth: Vaginal Prolapse
- ↑ MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Uterine prolapse
- ↑ MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Kegel exercises
- ↑ Hay-Smith EJ, Dumoulin C (2006). Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (1): CD005654.
- ↑ Hagen S, Stark D, Maher C, Adams E (2006). Conservative management of pelvic organ prolapse in women. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (4): CD003882.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 Alan P. Brauer (2001). ESO: How You and Your Lover Can Give Each Other Hours of Extended Sexual Orgasm, Revised, Warner Books. URL accessed 2009-09-11. "Learning to tighten, to relax, and to push out the PC muscle allows a man to control his sexual system the way he controls a car. Tightening is the accelerator, increasing arousal. Pushing out is the brake—it can help stop ejaculation."
- ↑ Hunter KF, Glazener CM, Moore KN (2007). Conservative management for postprostatectomy urinary incontinence. Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (2): CD001843.
- ↑ Dorey G, Speakman MJ, Feneley RC, Swinkels A, Dunn CD (2005). Pelvic floor exercises for erectile dysfunction. BJU International 96 (4): 595–597.
- ↑ Management of premature Ejaculation, Baum and Spiedler, Medical concepts of human sexuality 2001
- ↑ http://www.whitelotuseast.com/MultipleOrgasm.htm
- Judith Florendo, PT. Kegels De-Mystified for Women. A Healthy Balance (National Association for Continence) Fall 2008 Vol 26 No 3
- MayoClinic.com. Kegel exercises: how to strengthen pelvic floor muscles
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