This section explains what Kegel exercises are. It also describes how to locate the Kegel muscles, how to do Kegel exercises, and it explains what the benefits of doing these exercises can be. In addition, this section includes a short history of how these exercises came about, as well as my own experience with Kegel exercises.
Kegel exercises consist of contracting and relaxing the muscles in the area between the penis and the anus, or the area that is called the pelvic floor. To be more precise, the pelvic floor stretches from the pubic bone to the bottom of the spine. The group of muscles in this area are collectively called the pelvic floor muscles, and consists of muscles such as the pubococcygeus muscle, the iliococcygeus muscle and the bulbocavernosus muscle.
Kegel exercises were officially introduced by Arnold Kegel. In women, he discovered that problems related to childbirth such as loosening of the vaginal canal, cystocele and prolapse of the uterus, could be resolved by performing pelvic floor exercises. He also discovered that problems related to incontinence could be solved with these exercises. In addition, he discovered that strong pelvic floor muscles helped women achieve better bladder control. Not only that, but it was discovered that women were able to achieve orgasms more easily when their pelvic floor muscles were well-trained, than when these muscles were weak. These exercises have now taken the name after Arnold Kegel, and are often referred to as Kegel exercises.
These Kegel exercises are now practiced not only by women to regain and increase vaginal and sexual function, but also by men. Both men and women have a pelvic floor, so both men and women can benefit from these exercises.
A lot of people exercise their bodies regularly by going to the gym or similar to stay in shape. But why should we only train our general fitness level? Why not also train our pelvic floor muscles? Would more people exercise the pelvic floor muscles if they had the right knowledge of how important these muscles are?
The pelvic floor muscles can be difficult to identify, as 1) one can’t really see them, and 2) exercising them doesn’t result in an obvious movement like bending an arm. However, the easiest way to identify these muscles is to cut off the flow of urine while urinating. When this is done, the pelvic floor muscles are at work. Another way of locating these muscles is – while the penis is erect or semi-erect – to lift the penis up and keeping it up, and then relaxing and letting it fall. If this can be done, one is successfully doing Kegel exercises.
To do Kegel exercises, one repeatedly squeezes (or contracts) the pelvic floor muscles and then relaxes. If done consistently, say for a few minutes every day, this will normally start to strengthen and build up the pelvic floor muscles. Many people have reported great benefits by starting out with doing 10 short but strong squeezes of 2-3 seconds each, then relaxing for a minute, then another 10 similar squeezes, then relaxing for a minute and then 10 more similar squeezes.
To achieve best results, it is preferable to focus on tightening only the pelvic floor muscles and to try to isolate the contractions of these. If one flexes the muscles in the abdomen, thighs or buttocks, the training will normally become less effective.
The beauty of Kegel exercises is that they don’t require any equipment and can be done anywhere, basically anytime. They can be done in the office, on the bus, in bed, at dinner, or anywhere one may fancy. Chances are that nobody would ever know what you are doing (unless you are making funny faces).
In addition to Kegel exercises, there is something called reverse Kegel exercises. These exercises also increase the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. The best way to describe how to do these exercises is probably also via urinating. Instead of cutting off the flow of urine, if one instead pushing out the urine faster, one is doing reverse Kegel exercises.
For men, there are 4 potential benefits of performing Kegel exercises:
Kegel exercises help train and tone the muscles behind and around the penis (the pelvic floor muscles). These muscles support the sexual organ and carry out many functions related to sex. Therefore, to have pelvic floor muscles that are in good share, is essential for sexual functions to work well.
As these muscles get in better shape, it becomes easier to both achieve and support erections. And on the flip-side, when these muscles are in poor shape, it may be difficult to get and maintain erections.
Some men have also reported that Kegel exercises have made their orgasms more intense and more pleasurable. The argument is that with a higher-performance muscle, akin to a higher-performance engine in a car, one can achieve stronger and more intense sensations. To my knowledge there is little reliable research on males to back this up. The evidence in women is however compelling, with several women claiming increased sexual pleasures after doing these exercises. Lastly, it has also been claimed by some men that strong pelvic floor muscles can help a man have multiple orgasms (within a short amount of time), but there is also scant evidence to back this up.
The pelvic floor muscles are part of the system that pumps out the ejaculate when a man ejaculates, and is therefore key in the ejaculation process. As these muscles are trained, it may be possible to gain control over the ejaculation process, both by delaying and speeding up the time to ejaculation. Research has indicated that Kegel exercises can indeed delay ejaculation in people suffering from premature ejaculation.
Lastly, stronger pelvic floor muscles will normally increase overall penis health and can help with the proper functioning of the penis. For instance, it has been shown that strong pelvic floor muscles can help prevent urine leakage and can increase bladder control.
Benefits of doing Kegel exercises for men are also supported by research. One research study divided 55 men who had experienced erectile dysfunction for at least 6 months into two groups. One group was treated with both pelvic floor muscle exercises (taught by a physiotherapist) and advised on lifestyle changes. The other group was advised on lifestyle changes only. The lifestyle changes included stopping smoking, exercising more, eating healthier and losing weight.
After six months, 40% of the participants in the Kegel exercise group had regained normal erectile function, and a further 36% had seen improvement in erectile functioning. The control group saw no significant improvements. Other research studies have also shown similar results, with a range of 26–46% of men that had regained normal function following a similar exercise regime. In addition, these exercises significantly improved the condition called post-micturition dribble in several of the persons. This is a condition where urine leaks out after person is done urinating. The study suggested that pelvic floor exercises (in addition to a healthy lifestyle) should be considered as a first-line approach for men seeking long-term resolution of their erectile dysfunction.
Research has also shown that Kegel exercises can improve the condition of premature ejaculation. One study analysed the improvement after a 12 week pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation program of 40 men, suffering from lifelong premature ejaculation. At the beginning of the study, the men on average would ejaculate 38 seconds after entering a vagina. After 12 weeks, 83% of the participants gained control of their ejaculation reflex and increased the time to ejaculate after entering a vagina to an average of 146 seconds.
I have to say that I haven’t done enough Kegel exercises myself to have a strong opinion for or against them. This is because I had by and large already overcome my problems with erectile dysfunction and a weak libido when I properly learned about and investigated these Kegel exercises. My attempts at these exercises were initially sporadic and inconsistent. But I have now adopted these exercises as part of my daily exercise routine as I do believe in exercising generally, and I also believe in exercising the parts of the body that are vital for proper sexual function. I therefore give my pelvic floor a 20-squeeze work-out every day.
Ballard DJ. Treatment of erectile dysfunction: can pelvic muscle exercises improve sexual function? J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 1997 Sep; 24(5):255-64.
Claes H, Baert L. Pelvic floor exercise versus surgery in the treatment of impotence. Br J Urol. 1993 Jan; 71(1):52-7.
Dorey G, Feneley RC, Speakman MJ, Robinson JP, Paterson J. Pelvic floor muscle exercises and manometric biofeedback for erectile dysfunction and postmicturition dribble: three case studies. J Wound Ostomy Continence Nurs. 2003 Jan; 30(1):44-51; discussion 51-2.
Dorey G, Speakman M, Feneley R, Swinkels A, Dunn C, Ewings P. Pelvic floor exercises for treating postmicturition dribble in men with erectile dysfunction: a randomized controlled trial. Urol Nurs 2004; 24: 490–7.
Dorey G, Speakman M, Feneley R, Swinkels A, Dunn C, Ewings P. Randomised controlled trial of pelvic floor muscle exercises and manometric biofeedback for erectile dysfunction. Br J General Pract 2004; 54: 819–25.
Dorey G, Speakman MJ, Feneley RC, Swinkels A, Dunn CD. Pelvic floor exercises for erectile dysfunction. BJU Int. 2005 Sep; 96(4):595-7.
Dorey G. Pelvic floor exercises as a treatment for men with erectile dysfunction. Nurs Times. 2004 Mar 23-29; 100(12):65-7.
La Pera G. Awareness and timing of pelvic floor muscle contraction, pelvic exercises and rehabilitation of pelvic floor in lifelong premature ejaculation: 5 years experience. Arch Ital Urol Androl. 2014 Jun 30; 86(2):123-5. DOI: 10.4081/aiua.2014.2.123.
Lavoisier P, Roy P, Dantony E, Watrelot A, Ruggeri J, Dumoulin S. Pelvic-floor muscle rehabilitation in erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation. Phys Ther. 2014 Dec; 94(12):1731-43. DOI: 10.2522/ptj.20130354.
Pastore AL, Palleschi G, Fuschi A, Maggioni C, Rago R, Zucchi A, Costantini E, Carbone A. Pelvic floor muscle rehabilitation for patients with lifelong premature ejaculation: a novel therapeutic approach. Ther Adv Urol. 2014 Jun; 6(3): 83–88. DOI: 10.1177/1756287214523329.
Prota C, Gomes CM, Ribeiro LH, de Bessa J Jr, Nakano E, Dall’Oglio M, Bruschini H, Srougi M. Early postoperative pelvic-floor biofeedback improves erectile function in men undergoing radical prostatectomy: a prospective, randomized, controlled trial. Int J Impot Res. 2012 Sep; 24(5):174-8. DOI: 10.1038/ijir.2012.11.
Siegel AL. Pelvic floor muscle training in males: practical applications. Urology. 2014 Jul; 84(1):1-7. DOI: 10.1016/j.urology.2014.03.016.
V. Puppo, J. Abdulcadir, A. Mannucci, L. Catania, D. Abdulcadir. The importance of the Kegel exercises for the erection of the male and female erectile organs (male and female penis). Sexologies Volume 17, n° S1, page 136 (avril 2008), DOI: 10.1016/S1158-1360(08)72894-9.
Van Kampen M, De Weerdt W, Claes H, Feys H, De Maeyer M, Van Poppel H. Treatment of erectile dysfunction by perineal exercise, electromyographic biofeedback, and electrical stimulation. Phys Ther. 2003 Jun; 83(6):536-43.