*This article is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be a substitute for or provide medical advice or treatment. Please consult your urologist, physician, or health care provider if you have more questions about this topic.
We men spend a lot of time thinking about one aspect of our sexual function and performance: our penises. Yet perhaps we're giving short shrift to the pelvic floor muscles, a vital part of our reproductive system that we share with women. It turns out that this is an area where women are way ahead of men in maintaining sexual health. The secret is Kegel exercises.
Okay, Kegels aren't a particularly very well-kept secret, but what you may not know is that men can also use different techniques to up their game in the bedroom by working on and strengthening vital pelvic floor muscles.
Exercising the pelvic floor muscle (PFM) provides numerous benefits to men, including lasting longer between the sheets, getting more intense orgasms, overcoming erectile dysfunction, and improving erections. An added benefit: pelvic floor rehabilitation helps men who have gone through a radical prostatectomy (prostate surgery) to overcome stress urinary incontinence, i.e. no more leaking urine.
So, pelvic floor training a.k.a. Kegel exercises are a secret weapon for combating male sexual dysfunction. Great! But what exactly are they and how can you make them one of your healthy habits?
Kegels are a set of exercises that strengthen muscles in the floor of your pelvic area, from the pubic bone to your tailbone--a kind of pelvic floor therapy. The pelvic floor muscles form a floating bed for your bladder, bowels, and in women, the uterus. Strengthen this area, and the pelvic floor will hold your pelvic organs in place.
Kegels are named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, a leading research scientist in the sexual and urinary health field. In the late 1940s, he championed this simple exercise to help new mothers overcome pelvic organ prolapse and stress incontinence resulting from pregnancy and vaginal childbirth. It wasn't long before women were also championing Kegels to improve sexual performance, but awareness of the benefits to men has lagged behind. Let's remedy that.
The Top Five Myths About Pelvic Floor Exercises For Men
First, some facts. Men have the same pubococcygeus muscles (PCs) in their pelvic floor as women and can exercise them to improve male sexual function because PCs play a crucial role in erectile function and achieving ejaculation during orgasm. This is not news to any medical practitioner who has studied the reproductive system, yet, renowned urologist Dr. Andrew Siegel believes that many health care professionals don't embrace the role of the instructor when it comes to training men to develop their PCs. This authority vacuum has led to some persistent myths about Kegel exercises for men.
Here are some of the most common ones:
In his analysis on the practical use of PFM training for men, Dr. Siegel writes that "females are often introduced to Kegel exercises at their first gynecology visit, and thereafter the exercises are reinforced at well visits, particularly during pregnancy and postpartum, whereas men do not see urologists for routine well-care and seek consultation only after a problem arises, usually later in life."
But this imbalance in attention to the benefits of Kegel exercises shouldn't be mistaken to mean they aren't as important for men. Men have the same pelvic floor as women, and utilize the PCs for controlling or supporting erectile function, blood flow, ejaculation, and orgasms. The health of these muscles affects prostate health, urinary health, and bowel control.
PCs are very similar to your biceps or pecs; they're skeletal muscles. After a workout, you need to give them time to recover before you hit the gym again.
The same applies to Kegels. You need to let your pelvic floor muscle rest and recover before you can put it through more reps. The recommended regimen usually involves 3 to 4 sessions a week, allowing for ample rest.
Kegel exercises at their most basic are about squeezing and releasing, but try to do them efficiently, for maximum gains, and it's much more nuanced than that. To really tone your pelvic muscles, you need to consider the intensity and time of the contractions. Then there's the number of reps and sets to think about, and the importance of isolating the correct muscles. Add to that any resistance techniques you might want to apply, and you've gone well beyond simple squeeze and release.
If you've tried to perform Kegel exercises on your own, and want to take it to the next level, Private Gym offers a comprehensive and effective regimen for PFM training.
Like with any other muscle-building regimen, you either use it or lose it. You need to work your muscles with constant regularity, providing more resistance and reps to keep them in tiptop shape.
PCs may not be vanity muscles that you can flex in the mirror, but they need regular attention to maintain structural and functional integrity. So, even if your pelvic floor exercises have yielded fruit, you shouldn't discontinue the regimen.
With these myths in the dirt, one question still lingers...
It might seem improbable that such a simple set of exercises can contribute significantly to erectile function and even help with bladder issues such as urinary incontinence, but it isn't as far-fetched as you might think. Research has proven that Kegel exercises can help with urine flow, urine leakage, and bowel movement, fecal incontinence and can also help solve lifelong premature ejaculation and improve the quality of male orgasms.
Kegel exercises for men can also reduce the side effects of prostate cancer treatment, and just as importantly, they can bring that spark back to your bedroom.
Here's a more comprehensive list of advantages you can get from partaking in Kegels.
So you know the benefits, and want to start pelvic floor muscle training. But how do you perform Kegel exercises?
Kegels are the most essential part of a whole set of pelvic exercises you can include in your PFM training routine. Here's how to perform this exercise correctly:
Once you've mastered activating your pelvic floor muscles, you can move on to more advanced techniques.
Keep in mind you won't see results immediately. Strengthening pelvic floor muscles can take several weeks, and overworking them might worsen symptoms, so before we get ahead of ourselves, some safety tips:
Interrupting your urine stream is a great way to identify the PC muscles. However, doing kegel exercises with a full bladder is dangerous, and could risk worsening any urine leakage and putting undue pressure on your bladder. Try to master isolating the right muscles as quickly as possible.
Your pelvic floor muscles are just like any other muscle and can be strained via overwork. Stay safe as you incorporate these exercises into your routine and practice the proper technique.
Kegel exercises can help more if performed regularly.
Doing Kegel exercises regularly is where it's at for easy, do-it-at-home health solutions. Add them to your exercise routine and you can improve sexual function today. Your penis and partner will thank you!