Patience is a virtue—especially when it comes to Kegel exercises. Not only does it take time to think about and contract your muscles properly, but it also takes time to remember to do them in the first place. If you can do both those things, there are kegel exercise benefits. Obstetrician-gynecologists (OB/GYNs) recommend doing them, but there are a few things you need to know before you can reap their benefits.
First, you have to do Kegels properly
There’s no benefit from doing Kegels improperly or inconsistently. If done correctly, Kegel exercises help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, according to Alyssa Dweck, MS, MD, FACOG, a practicing gynecologist in Westchester County, New York, and assistant clinical professor in the department of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine. To do a proper Kegel, Dr. Dweck says to imagine tensing muscles as if to stop peeing. Then hold that pose for a few seconds and relax. That last part—relaxing the muscles—is essential, according to Lauren Streicher, MD, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. “Some women have pain with sex because those muscles don’t relax properly,” she says. “We always say we’re looking for strong muscles, but it’s just as important for those muscles to relax; that’s part of what a Kegel is.” Here are 15 things your gynecologist wants to tell you.
There are two ways to really hone in on your Kegel skills. One is to use an over-the-counter device that will give you feedback in real time, Dr. Streicher says. These devices go inside the vagina, and when a woman squeezes her pelvic floor muscles, the device connects by Bluetooth to her phone telling her if she’s doing it correctly. This can help women do Kegels the right way and remind them to do the exercises regularly. Dr. Streicher says pelvic floor physical therapists are also an option for learning more about Kegels and other pelvic floor exercises. However, Dr. Dweck says that you don’t need to use these methods to do Kegels, as they can be done anywhere, anytime, laying down, sitting, or standing. She recommends holding the Kegel pose for a few seconds ten to 30 times per day, but these are loose recommendations. Most women do two to three sets of 10 throughout the day, she says. There are also a few yoga poses that help strengthen the pelvic floor.
So, if you’re doing Kegels right, how long does it take them to work?
If you’ve got the Kegel technique and routine down pat, Dr. Dweck says women should see progress in two to three weeks. You definitely need to keep up with them to maintain the effect. The bottom line is that Kegels only work if you do the work correctly and consistently. It’s worth adding them to your routine, as the benefits include better bladder control and potentially improved sexual function and orgasm, too. There’s even research that suggests men should do Kegels to help with premature ejaculation. Though they may still seem taboo, these issues are definitely worth addressing, along with these 13 things your vagina wants to tell you.