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Men May Benefit From Kegels, Too

Men May Benefit From Kegels, Too

Thought pelvic floor strengthening was only for women? Think again.

Kegel exercises were designed in the 1940s by Arnold Kegel, MD, a gynecologist, to help women with urinary incontinence. It’s not surprising then that these pelvic floor strengthening exercises have long been associated with women. But not only do men have pelvic floor muscles, they can also benefit from practicing Kegels.

The male pelvic floor explained
The pelvic floor is a system of muscles that support pelvic organs, such as the bladder. These muscles are responsible for starting and stopping the flow of urine and also affect rectal muscle tone. Poor pelvic floor control can lead to a host of problems such as urinary or fecal incontinence.

Who can benefit from Kegels?
Many men can use Kegel exercises for a variety of reasons, including those who experience urinary or fecal incontinence or rectal prolapse (when a small portion of the bowel protrudes from the anus). Some of the incontinence issues that Kegels may help control include men who have had prostate problems such as prostate cancer or surgical removal of part or all of the gland. Conditions like overactive bladder, diabetes, or age can also affect the pelvic floor.

There is also some evidence that pelvic strengthening may help some men with erectile dysfunction (ED). In one 2004 study of men with ED, 40 percent of participants regained normal erectile function and 35 percent had improved erectile function after three months of properly executed pelvic floor exercises. This was a small study, and further research is still needed to confirm how effective pelvic exercise is at treating ED.

If you suffer from any of these ailments, check with a healthcare provider to see if Kegels could be a beneficial exercise to add to your routine.

How to find and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
Kegel exercises are easy to do, but many have trouble locating the muscles. In fact, up to a third of people who do Kegels are actually working their abdominal muscles, back, thighs or buttocks, rather than the pelvic floor.

To identify your pelvic muscles, try the following:

  • Try to stop the flow of urine midstream
  • Flex your muscles as though you are holding in gas or a bowel movement

Once you are comfortable contracting your pelvic muscles, practice Kegels by tightening these muscles for three seconds, then relaxing them for three to five seconds. Repeat these 10 times, three times a day. Be sure you are not flexing your abs, thighs, or buttocks during the process.

If you are still having trouble with Kegels or strengthening pelvic floor muscles, ask your doctor about seeing a pelvic therapist for individualized physical therapy.

Medically reviewed in November 2019.

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