You might have heard of Kegel exercises. You might have even seen devices designed to strengthen Kegel muscles. If you are anything like I was many years ago, you might have glanced right past these explanations and devices because they didn't seem to pertain to you. Or because it had the word "exercise" in it, you were instantly bored. Or maybe you were on a mission to purchase a fun toy that had movable, twisty, swirling, and vibrating parts in the shape of a cute bunny rabbit, and those Kegel balls looked pretty boring in comparison. As a result, there might still be an air of mystery surrounding what exactly these Kegel exercises are and what exactly they do. Well, it's about time to change that, because they do pertain to you (yes, you!).
As we age, we lose pelvic floor muscle tone unless we are actively exercising them. Some other contributing factors to loss of muscle tone include pregnancy, childbirth, and abdominal surgery. If you sometimes leak urine when you sneeze or cough, it's definitely time to start strengthening those Kegels, but you don't need to wait until you reach that point to reap the benefits of Kegel exercises.
What Are "Kegel" Muscles?
"Kegel" muscles are a group of pelvic floor muscles called the Levator Ani (also referred to as pubococcygeus or PC muscles) that creates a hammock from your pubic bone to your tailbone, holding up all your pelvic floor organs. They contract and relax as one muscle.
The word "Kegel" comes from Dr. Arnold Kegel, who developed exercises for these muscles as a result of realizing its many benefits. These benefits for women include more frequent orgasms, more powerful orgasms, treating urinary incontinence, treating vaginal prolapse and preventing uterine prolapse. For men these benefits include stronger erections, more control over ejaculation and treating premature ejaculation, treating urinary incontinence, treating pain and swelling in the prostate, and tighter balls.
How to exercise your Kegel/PC muscles
So how do you exercise these muscles? First, by recognizing them. They are the muscles that you use to stop a stream of urine and the muscles that you clench your anus with. You can clench and unclench these muscles as you read this article. Go ahead, do it. You know you want to! Be sure not to tighten or clench your buttocks, thighs, abdomen, or any other surrounding muscles at the same time because this can weaken or counteract the effect on your pelvic floor muscles. Clench for 3-5 seconds, unclench for 5 seconds, clench again for 3-5 seconds, and then unclench again for 5 seconds. Do a set of 10, take a short break, repeat. See how many repetitions you can do before those muscles start feeling tired. Don't push yourself! All you're trying to do right now is look for your baseline—your starting point. Now that you've found how many repetitions you can do before getting too tired, repeat this number 3-4 times a day. You don't even necessarily have to set any special time aside for this. You can do this at a red light, while sitting at your desk, while drinking your morning coffee, etc. The important thing is to keep some sort of regimen and be patient for the results to manifest. You can slowly increase your repetitions and the intensity of your clenching (remember: don't clench your surrounding muscles!).
As you can see, you do not necessarily need a sexual medical device or special sex toy to work out those PC muscles, although they do help a lot and can be a lot of fun! There are stainless steel barbells designed for both vaginal and anal weight resistance training. There are weighted Kegel balls, and vibrating devices designed to strengthen your Kegels and bring you to orgasm simultaneously. Ben Wa balls or "orgasm" balls are simple, can be worn around for much of the day (just don't forget they're in there!), and can be a whole lot of fun. Some of these devices can be used for both vaginal and anal use, but many—like the Ben Wa balls—are strictly for vaginal use (never put anything up your rectum that does not have a flared base or was not designed specifically for that purpose).
Another delightful way of working out those sex muscles (again, for those with vaginas) is while they're wrapped around a penis or dildo. I'm sure your partner will agree. Not only does it increase their pleasure by having their penis massaged (and yes, you can feel it through a dildo, too), but also yours. I've massaged myself to orgasm while working out my PC muscles around a penis, cock, dildo, etc.
So although one does not necessarily need a device or prop to strengthen these muscles, having them can be very encouraging as it helps to quantify the improvement of your muscle tone as you're measuring it against various implements. Adding resistance also strengthens the effectiveness and efficiency of these exercises. And let's not forget, some of these props cross the line into some very sexually satisfying territory.
To sum up, work on those PC muscles if you're seeking stronger and more frequent orgasms, if you'd like to control your ejaculation better, if you experience any urine leakage when you sneeze or cough, if you're pregnant or have birthed a child (but talk to a doctor, first), if you like to stay fit, if you're curious, if you're bored, and just for fun!
Ally Booker is a pleasure activist. She is passionate about educating herself and others on cool sexuality related things like communication skills, creating and respecting boundaries, sexual self-determination, destigmatization, gender and sexual expressions, sex toy use and safety, and all the other mechanics of pleasure. You can often find her milling around her Tucson shop, Jellywink Boutique, 418 E. 7th St., (888) 874-6588.