The Benefits of Kegel Exercises Are Legit, According to Experts


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Fit young woman doing glute bridge exercise at homeKegels are a quick and easy exercise, but they don’t exactly have the most glamorous reputation. That said, doing daily Kegels can be seriously beneficial for your pelvic-floor strength and overall sexual health. Kegel exercises can help before and after pregnancy, working the muscles in the pelvic floor to prevent urine incontinence and bowel issues. But according to experts, anyone with a pelvis can reap the benefits of Kegel exercises, so long as you know how to do them correctly.

To help you understand why Kegels are worth doing, we asked doctors to break down the many benefits of Kegel exercises, including tips for how to do a Kegel effectively. Although Kegels are incredibly useful, it’s also good to know what they can’t fix, so you can reach out to your doctor with any additional questions or specific concerns. Ahead, find expert-approved information about how Kegels work, exactly what they strengthen, and why you should consider incorporating Kegel exercises into your own life for better sex and less health issues down the line.

What Are Kegels?

According to Rachel Gelman, PT, DPT, pelvic-floor health expert at Intimina, Kegels are pelvic-floor exercises that contract and then relax the pelvic-floor muscles — simple as that. “The pelvic floor is a muscular hammock that is inside the pelvis. It supports the pelvic organs: bladder, colon, uterus, or prostate,” Gelman says. When performing these exercises, the ultimate goal is to strengthen these powerful pelvic-floor muscles.

Benefits of Kegel Exercises

Preventing Incontinence

As explained by Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, a board-certified ob-gyn and sexual and reproductive health expert for Intimina, a stronger pelvic floor can help maintain the continence of urine, gas, and feces. That’s why Kegels are often recommended for those with urinary incontinence and certain bowel issues. Dr. Dweck says that having strong pelvic-floor muscles also helps keep the pelvic organs in the correct anatomic position, although this is not necessarily a cure-all. Kegel exercises will not help if one’s uterus, cervix, or bladder is prolapsed or severely relaxed.

Better Sex

The rumors are true: doing Kegel exercises can lead to better sex. “Many report stronger orgasms and a stronger grip on a partner or toy with regular [pelvic-floor] exercises,” Dr. Dweck confirms. “Much of sexual activity involves muscles and muscle contraction. The stronger the muscles, the stronger the contractions.” She points out that Kegels are still an exercise at the end of the day, which comes with certain benefits. “Exercise also enhances blood flow,” Dr. Dweck says. “This includes to the genital muscles and structures.”

Easier Pregnancy and Healing After Delivery

While Gelman says that anyone with a pelvis can benefit from Kegels, the exercises can be especially helpful for those who are pregnant or preparing for postpartum period. “Regardless of the mode of delivery (vaginal or C-section), the pelvic-floor muscles are impacted during pregnancy, and as a result, a new mom may experience urinary or bowel dysfunction, including incontinence, along with pelvic pain and/or pain with sex,” Gelman says. “All of these symptoms are common, but they do not need to be someone’s new normal.”

These concerns are commonly addressed with a pelvic-floor therapist who may recommend certain exercises, including Kegels. Kegel exercises can also help restore bladder control, help push during vaginal delivery, and facilitate better perineal healing, per the Cleveland Clinic. That said, you should consult with your doctor before determining if Kegel exercises are a safe or necessary step for you.

How to Do Kegel Exercises Correctly

To correctly perform a Kegel, you’ll first want to identify the pelvic-floor muscles. The Mayo Clinic recommends stopping the flow of urine midstream just to get a sense of the feeling. You can also insert your finger into the vagina and squeeze the surrounding muscles. The muscles you engage here are the ones that are targeted during Kegel exercises.

In order to do Kegels, the Cleveland Clinic recommends contracting your pelvic-floor muscles and holding for three seconds, then relaxing for three seconds before repeating. For an additional visual, imagine you’re squeezing and lifting a marble using only your pelvic floor. You can even use Kegel balls (small, sphere-shaped weights inserted intravaginally) to further strengthen these muscles. As a note, Kegel balls are normally only recommended for those with a weak pelvic floor, sometimes due to traumatic injury or childbirth. Ask your doctor to see what’s right for you.

The ideal frequency for Kegel exercises depends on the individual. Dr. Dweck says she typically recommends daily Kegels, “especially for those who are concerned about a weak pelvic floor and its consequences.” This usually consists of 10 to 30 reps per day, or as many as you’re able. You can expect to see results within a few weeks or months, depending on your specific situation.

While Kegels don’t require any equipment (and you can basically do them anywhere), Kegel trainers do exist. Dr. Dweck says these small devices, which are often meant to be inserted into the vagina, “can provide feedback on progress and allow for more intense pose.”

One thing to definitely remember is that Kegels should never hurt, so if you’re experiencing pain, reach out to your doctor. You should also avoid using Kegel exercises while urinating, according to the Mayo Clinic, as this increases the risk of a UTI. Gelman adds that people often perform Kegels incorrectly by just squeezing their butts or abdomens, so don’t be afraid to ask your doctor for additional technical advice.

— Additional reporting by Chandler Plante

Victoria Moorhouse was a beauty content director for Vox Media, where she oversaw content for L’Oréal’s and She was previously a senior editor for POPSUGAR, where she worked with partners to cover health, fitness, and wellness.

Chandler Plante is an assistant editor for POPSUGAR Health & Fitness. Previously, she worked as an editorial assistant for People magazine and contributed to Ladygunn, Millie, and Bustle Digital Group. In her free time, she overshares on the internet, creating content about chronic illness, beauty, and disability.

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