Each week, The CSPH answers questions that have been submitted anonymously through our Formspring. This week’s question is: What is the sexual use of the Kegel muscle?
“Kegel muscle” is the colloquial term for the pubococcygeneus (PC) muscle, which is found along the pelvic floor. Exercise of pelvic floor muscles, more commonly called “Kegel exercises,” consists of repeatedly contracting and relaxing these muscles, and has several health benefits. In addition to treating urinary incontinence, Kegel exercises help prevent vaginal prolapse, can speed vaginal recovery following pregnancy, and can be used to treat prostate pain and swelling as the result of inflammation of the prostate gland.
These exercises can also benefit one’s sex life by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, which increases the intensity of contractions during orgasm and makes orgasms more powerful. Moreover, Kegel exercises imitate the body’s response to climax, and are therefore recommended to those who have difficulty orgasming. Kegel exercises can also increase erection firmness, as well as allow for better control of orgasms and ejaculations during sexual activity. Furthermore, they are recommended to treat premature ejaculation and reduce the risk of erectile dysfunction.
So, how does one exercise their PC muscle?
You must start by first locating your PC muscle! You can do this by attempting the following activity while urinating: mid-stream, try to stop peeing completely. When you do this, you are tightening your pelvic floor muscle. (That said, you shouldn’t regularly do Kegels while urinating, as this can lead to urine retention.) If you have a vagina, you can also locate this muscle by placing a finger in the vaginal opening and contracting around it. When you’re able to squeeze your finger, you are working your PC muscle.
To practice Kegel exercises, try squeezing your pelvic muscles for 3 seconds, and then relax for 3 seconds. Repeat this exercise 10-15 times per session. Healthcare providers recommend that people exercise their pelvic muscles 3 to 4 times a day. Fortunately, Kegel exercises are really convenient– you can practice anywhere, at any time, and no one will know! Still, some may find it difficult to remember on a day-to-day basis, and others may find it hard to consistently isolate their PC muscle, resulting in incorrect Kegel exercises and little benefit.
Thus, for those who would like to exercise their pelvic floor muscles without much effort, I recommend investing in tools to aid you: for example, Kegel balls, also known as “ben wa balls” are body-safe balls that fit inside the vagina and exercise the PC muscle as you go about your day. There are a wide variety of Kegel exercise balls to fit your needs– for example, ben wa balls tend to be small, light in weight, and made of metal or glass, and although they usually don’t have a string, some types (called duotone balls), do. Kegel balls, on the other hand, are bigger than ben wa balls, are encased in hard plastic or medical-grade silicone, and have tend to have a string for ease of use. These balls also come in solo and duo models, and can be heavier or lighter in weight, depending on the brand. Some Kegel balls, such as Lelo’s Luna Beads, have an interchangeable system that allows the user to choose between a single ball with or without a string, and two balls connected by a silicone casing, giving you great variability depending on your needs. Other recommended Kegel exercisers are Fun Factory’s SmartBalls and Ami, by JeJoue.
Another Kegel exercise aid is the kegel bar, which are weighted bars that are inserted into the vagina and are used along with kegel exercises to give the PC muscle a better workout. Moreover, a great Kegel exercise tool for both people with vaginas and those with penises is the Aneros Peridise, the first unisex Kegel exerciser as well as the first available for those without vaginas. All of these aids can be found at sex toy retailers such as Good Vibrations and EdenFantasys. Lastly, I recommend that people incorporate their Kegel exercises during arousal and sexual activity, as this can lead to an increase in sexual pleasure for both the individual and their partner.