Kegel exercises for men can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder and bowel and affect sexual function. With practice, Kegel exercises for men can be done just about any time.
Before you start doing Kegel exercises, find out how to locate the correct muscles and understand the proper technique.
Benefits of Kegel exercises for men
Many factors can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, including the surgical removal of the prostate (radical prostatectomy) and conditions, such as diabetes and an overactive bladder.
You might benefit from doing Kegel exercises if you:
* Have urinary or fecal incontinence
* Dribble after urination — usually after you've left the toilet
These exercises are often recommended to patients with weakened pelvic floor muscles such as patients with diabetes, patients having had a prostate surgery in the past such as a radical prostatectomy, or obese patients. It should also be mentioned that these exercises have not been scientifically proven to increase penis size and are thus not recommended solely for this purpose.
Kegel exercises are harmless if performed correctly. Chest and abdominal pain have been reported in some, but these occurrences are the result of inappropriately performed exercises.
California gynecologist Dr. Arnold Kegel created Kegel exercises in the late 1940s to help women control incontinence following childbirth. Later research discovered that the exercises could also be helpful in preventing prolapse and alleviating pelvic pain during intercourse.
The exercises target the muscles of the “pelvic floor,” which are medically termed the pubococcygeus (PC muscles). Both men and women have these muscles, which provide support to pelvic organs such as the urethra, bladder, and bowel.
In young people, PC muscles are typically taut and strong, helping to hold pelvic organs in place and assisting in bladder control and sexual function. However, they can become weakened and stretched as you age, losing efficiency.
Just as you can strengthen your arm muscles or leg muscles through exercise, you can strengthen your PC muscles. Because these muscles aren’t exercised enough during your normal, everyday life, you have to make a focused effort.
These simple exercises have not attracted much attention from erectile dysfunction researchers. However, a study published in BJU International in 2005 looked at the success of Kegel exercises among 55 men over the age of 20 who had experienced ED for more than six months. After six months of regular Kegeling and lifestyle changes, such as improved diet and exercise, about 75 percent of the men saw an improvement in their erections.
Although the study is nearly a decade old, Erickson said that he finds the results compelling enough to recommend Kegels as one component of a man’s strategy to improve erections. In addition, researchers reviewing strategies to treat ED included regular Kegel exercises among their recommendations, according to a study published in the December 2009 issue of the journal Therapeutic Advances in Urology.
In another research, in 2012, researchers found that a postoperative program including Kegel exercises improved men’s ability to recover bladder control after prostate surgery.
How to do Kegel exercises for men
To get started:
* Find the right muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream or tighten the muscles that keep you from passing gas. These maneuvers use your pelvic floor muscles. Once you've identified your pelvic floor muscles, you can do the exercises in any position, although you might find it easiest to do them lying down at first. Don’t tense the muscles in your buttocks, legs, or abdomen, and don’t hold your breath.
Some men find these muscles by imagining that they are trying to stop the passage of gas. Squeezing these muscles gives a pulling sensation; these are the right muscles for pelvic exercises. It's important not to contract other muscles.
Some men need biofeedback to help them target the right muscles.
* Perfect your technique. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for three seconds, and then relax for three seconds. Try it a few times in a row. When your muscles get stronger, try doing Kegel exercises while sitting, standing or walking.
* Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
* Repeat 3 times a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.
Don't make a habit of using Kegel exercises to start and stop your urine stream. Some doctors think this could cause a bladder infection.
When to do your Kegels
Make Kegel exercises part of your daily routine. For example:
* Fit in a set of Kegel exercises every time you do a routine task, such as brushing your teeth.
* Do another set after you urinate, to get rid of the last few drops of urine.
* Contract your pelvic floor muscles just before and during any activity that puts pressure on your abdomen, such as sneezing, coughing, laughing or heavy lifting.
Arguably, one of the strongest points of Kegel exercises is that they can be performed anywhere without anyone but the participant noticing. Unlike typical core exercises for men requiring sit-ups, planking, or other unusual positions, Kegel exercises can be performed during a variety of activities such as shaving, sitting at one's desk, or even while driving. This feature allows them to be universally accepted by men.
3 Tips to Help Make Kegel Exercises a Habit
The most effective exercises are the ones you do regularly. To help you get into the rhythm of doing Kegels, try these simple tips:
* Stay consistent. Do your Kegel exercises at the same time each day -- maybe first thing in the morning while you are urinating, while brushing your teeth, and as you watch TV.
* Remember the benefits. If you keep up with Kegels, they can really make a difference in your urinary incontinence.
* Pay attention to progress. Over time, you’ll notice your urinary incontinence is improving. Maybe you’re having fewer leaks, or are leaking less.
When you're having trouble
If you're having trouble doing Kegel exercises, don't be embarrassed to ask for help. Your doctor or other health care provider can give you important feedback so that you learn to isolate and strengthen the correct muscles.
In some cases, biofeedback training might help. In a biofeedback session, your doctor or other health care provider inserts a small probe into your rectum. As you relax and contract your pelvic floor muscles, a monitor will measure and display your pelvic floor activity. Research suggests that biofeedback training is more effective in treating fecal incontinence.
When to expect results
If you do your Kegel exercises regularly, you can expect results — such as less frequent urine leakage — within about a few weeks to a few months. For continued benefits, make Kegel exercises a permanent part of your daily routine.
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