As we age, our pelvic floor muscles become weaker. This is especially true after carrying babies during pregnancy and giving birth. Here’s what you need to know about vaginal exercises for strengthening your pelvic floor.
What is the Pelvic Floor?
The “pelvic floor” is a group of muscles that help to hold up your uterus, bowel, and bladder. If your muscles in this area of the body are weak, you may experience problems with urine leakage or bowel control.
Both men and women have pelvic floor muscles. However, weak muscles are more common in women than in men.
Identify the Correct Muscles
As you begin to think about vaginal exercises, also called kegels, you must first identify the correct muscles to tighten. The next time you need to urinate, practice starting and stopping the flow of urine. These are your pelvic floor muscles.
The same goes for tightening the muscles used when you try to avoid passing gas. Keep in mind that other muscles like your thighs, buttock muscles, and abdomen should remain relaxed during any vaginal exercises you complete.
How to do Vaginal Exercises
When you’re ready to do your first vaginal exercise, get into a comfortable position and try to relax your body. Many people prefer to complete vaginal exercises while lying down on a bed or sitting in a chair. As you improve your kegel technique, try doing the exercises in different positions to challenge your body.
When you’re ready to do your vaginal exercises, follow these steps:
- Breathe in through your nose, allowing the air to fill up your abdomen. As you do this, consciously release your pelvic floor muscles so they aren’t tight.
- Breathe out through your mouth as you contract your pelvic floor muscles. Make sure your breaths are slow and even.
- Try to keep your pelvic floor muscles contracted for three to six seconds during your breath. You may feel them grow tired.
- Breathe in again, releasing the contraction of your muscles. Feel them relax.
- Continue breathing slowly as your muscles relax for six to ten seconds. It’s equally important to relax as it is to contract.
- Repeat this pattern of breathing and contracting ten times per exercise session, and do at least three sessions per day.
- Build up to holding your kegel exercises for ten seconds each, ten times in a row.
- Even as your progress, maintain rest time between each individual contraction to allow your muscles to relax completely. Keep in mind that kegels may seem easy, but they require dedicated focus for correct form.
Consistency is the key to developing muscle strength. If you experience pain while doing kegels, something is wrong. While your muscles may feel tired, you should never feel pain during vaginal exercises.
When to Seek Professional Help
If you try to complete vaginal exercises but don’t see any improvement in your condition after a few weeks, talk to your doctor. They can refer you to a pelvic floor therapist. Someone who specializes in pelvic floor muscles can teach you how to do vaginal exercises correctly, so you don’t hurt yourself.
If you do kegels wrong, you may tighten the muscles inside your vagina too much, causing pain during sex. When the myofascial tissue is tight, you experience pain in the vaginal muscles. A pelvic floor therapist uses their hands to perform both internal and external massages of the tissue to manipulate the pelvic floor muscles.
Pelvic floor therapists also have special tools they use during therapy. Consistent therapy helps teach your muscles to relax. After six to eight sessions, you can return less often for maintenance of your condition.
Since vaginal exercises like kegels help to improve blood flow to your vagina, your sex life may improve as well. Strong, healthy muscles are key to arousal and lubrication. When you are better able to contract your muscles, your sexual experience will improve.