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If you’re a guy and don’t know what Kegel exercises are, then read on. Kegel exercises are probably the easiest and most convenient exercises you can do to help improve your urinary, prostate and sexual health, and you can do them without putting on athletic shoes or breaking a sweat. In fact, no one will even know you are doing these exercises, even if you’re in a crowd or waiting in line at the bank.
What are Kegel exercises?
For the uninitiated, Kegel exercises (sometimes referred to as pelvic floor exercises) involve tightening your pubococcygeus (PC) muscle, the muscle located in your pelvic area that stretches from the pubic bone to the tailbone. The PC muscle is critical because it provides support for your pelvic organs and also plays an important role in regulating the flow of urine and the passing of gas.
Have I got your attention yet? Obviously, the PC muscle is one you want to keep in tip-top shape. Fortunately, doing so is not hard to do, as long as you practice regularly.
How to do Kegel exercises
Kegel exercises for men don’t require any special shoes, clothing or accessories. All you need to do is concentrate. To clench your PC muscle, think about how you try to stop the flow of urine. That involves your PC muscle. You can practice clenching or squeezing your PC muscle the next time you urinate: Try to stop the flow of urine, then let it start again, then stop it. This is the gist of doing Kegel exercises.
After you have practiced squeezing your PC muscle, you’re ready to do Kegel exercises. Here’s how:
- Contract the PC muscle and hold it for five seconds, then release. This is one repetition.
- Focus solely on your PC muscle. Do not tighten your abdominal, thigh or buttock muscles when you do these exercises.
- Repeat the repetitions 20 times, twice a day, for about a week, and then gradually increase to 40 repetitions twice a day, then 60.
You can do Kegel exercises anywhere, at any time. Stuck in traffic? Do Kegels. Waiting in line at the supermarket? Ditto. So you don’t forget to do your Kegels, put an alarm on your cellphone to remind you.
Benefits of Kegel exercises
If you’re wondering how effective Kegel exercises can be, here are a few examples.
- One study looked at 55 men who had experienced erectile dysfunction for at least six months. When the men practiced Kegel exercises daily for three to six months, 40 percent of them were able to regain erectile function, 35.5 percent said erection rigidity improved and 25.5 percent reported no difference. The authors of the study concluded that men should “exercise their pelvic floor muscles to maintain normal pelvic floor function.”
- In a subsequent review, experts evaluated randomized controlled trials in which men with urinary and fecal incontinence and erectile dysfunction had practiced Kegel exercises. The researchers found that practicing Kegel exercises greatly improved erectile function and urinary incontinence and that it would be “prudent for all men” to practice Kegel exercises regularly to maintain normal pelvic floor function.
- Among men who undergo prostatectomy, erectile dysfunction is a common side effect, but Kegel exercises may help. A study of 63 men who had a prostatectomy looked at two groups: 35 practiced pelvic floor muscle exercises after surgery while 27 did not until the third month after surgery. The researchers reported a significant beneficial difference among men who started Kegel exercises immediately after prostatectomy compared with the control group.
Kegel exercises for all men
Kegel exercises can benefit men who are experiencing problems with erectile dysfunction and urinary tract issues, but they are also helpful for any man, because they strengthen a muscle that is critical for overall health. In addition, Kegel exercises can help men who are experiencing problems with prostatitis (inflammation of the prostate gland) as well as men who are facing the challenge of premature ejaculation or who have undergone prostatectomy and need to restore pelvic muscle strength.
Men who practice Kegel exercises daily can expect to notice results in about four to six weeks. If you are planning to undergo any type of prostate or urinary tract surgery, you can benefit from beginning your Kegel exercises before the procedure. That way you will build up the PC muscle so it can better weather the procedure and bounce back post-surgery. After surgery, however, be sure to talk to your healthcare provider before you restart your Kegel exercises to be sure you are ready for them.
- Randomised controlled trial of pelvic floor muscle exercises and manometric biofeedback for erectile dysfunction — British Journal of General Practice
- Restoring pelvic floor function in men: review of RTCs — The British Journal of Nursing
- Effects of early pelvic-floor muscle exercise for sexual dysfunction in radical prostatectomy recipients — Cancer Nursing