In 1948, Los Angeles urologist Arnold Kegel, M.D., (Kay-gell) was treating women suffering from stress incontinence, embarrassing urine leakage triggered by coughs, sneezes, and laughter. He wondered if the cause might be weak urinary sphincter muscles unable to stay closed under the abdominal pressure caused by these actions. The urinary sphincter muscles are located between the legs, part of the pelvic floor muscle group that runs from the lower abdomen to the anus. Kegel theorized that exercises focused on strengthening the pelvic floor muscles might help women keep their sphincters closed and cure stress incontinence. He was right. His exercise program, Kegel exercises, improve bladder control and usually cure stress incontinence within a month or two.
Then something unexpected happened. Many women he treated confided that his exercises did more than simply cure their stress incontinence. They also seemed to produce more intense, more pleasurable orgasms.
On reflection, Kegel was not surprised. The pelvic floor muscles, notably the pubococcygeus (pew-boh-cox-ee-GEE-us, or PC), are the ones that contract during orgasm. As the pelvic floor muscles became stronger, it made biological sense that orgasms would, too—in men as well as women.
Kegel Exercises Work
Since Kegel developed his exercises, many studies have demonstrated their effectiveness—for both stress incontinence and better orgasms.
• In a 2015 study, Turkish researchers taught Kegel exercises to 90 women with stress incontinence. “We find Kegel exercises effective.”
• In 2017, Iranian scientists worked with 145 menopausal women who complained of decreased sexual function and enjoyment. Some received standard medical care. Others attended a sex education class. And some attended the class and also practiced Kegels. After 12 weeks, the class-Kegel women reported the most erotic enhancement.
To do Kegels, first identify your PC. It’s the muscle you contract to interrupt urinating, or to squeeze out the last few drops. Try stopping your stream a few times to identify your PC. PC contractions also cause a tightening of the anus.
Once you’ve identified your PC, sex therapists recommend doing both slow and quick Kegels. For slow ones, flex your PC and hold it contracted for a slow count of three, then relax. For quick Kegels, contract and relax your PC as rapidly as you can, then relax.
Begin by doing five slow contractions and five quick ones three times a day. Each week, increase the number of contractions by five—to ten, fifteen, etc.—until you’re up to twenty-five slow and fast contractions three times a day. Don’t increase contractions more quickly or you may suffer soreness between the legs.
Kegels can be practiced almost anywhere. No one but you knows you’re doing them. You might do Kegels while showering, driving, or watching TV. Typically, it takes a month or two of daily Kegels to notice enhanced orgasms.
Other Ways to Do Kegels
If you don’t benefit sufficiently from do-it-yourself Kegels, you might consider pelvic floor muscle-toning devices offered by many personal care catalogues variously called Kegel Exercisers, Kegelmasters, or other names that usually include “Kegel,” “pelvic,” or “PC.” Positioned between the legs, working these gadgets tones the muscles between the legs. Biofeedback offers another effective approach to improving pelvic floor muscle tone. But a 2017 analysis by Canadian researchers shows that home practice of plain old Kegels is usually the most cost-effective approach.
Older Men: The Kegel-Prostate Connection
Compared with young guys, older men report more sex problems, notably erection impairment. But men don’t need erections to have orgasms, and many older men report something they never expected, more intense, more earth-moving orgasms. The reason—they’ve been doing Kegels without realizing it.
Older men develop prostate enlargement, which makes urination more difficult. To empty their bladders, older men must squeeze their pelvic floor muscles, in other words, do Kegels. So it’s no surprise that many report better orgasms.
No matter if you’re a man or woman, young or old, try some Kegel contractions right now. Keep practicing and in a month or so, you should notice more pleasurable orgasms, both solo and with partners.
And if you’re already a Kegel exerciser, I’d be interested to hear how they’ve worked for you.
Dannecker, C et al. “EMG-Biofeedback Assisted Pelvic Floor Muscle Training Is an Effective Therapy for Stress Urinary or Mixed Incontinence: A 7-Year Experience with 390 Patients,” Archives of Gynecology and Obstetrics (2005) 273:93.
Cavkaytar, S. et al. “Effect of Home-Based Kegel Exercises on Quality of Life in Women with Stress and Mixed Urinary Incontinence,” Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology (2015) 35:407.
Kashanian, M. et al. “Evaluation of the Effect of Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (PFMT or Kegel Exercises) and Assisted Pelvic Floor Muscle Training (APFMT) by a resistance Device (KegelMaster) on Urinary Incontinence in Women: A Randomized Trial,” European Journal of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Biology (2011) 159:218.
Nazarpour, S. et al. “Effects of Sex Educaion and Kegel Exercises on the Sexual Function of Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” Journal of Sexual Medicine (2017) 14:959.
Richmond, C.F. et al. “Effect of Supervised Pelvic Floor Biofeedback and Electrical Stimulation in Women Mixed and Stress Urinary Incontinence,” Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (2016) 22:324.
Simpson, A.N. et al. “A Cost-Utility Analysis of Nonsurgical Treatments for Stress Urinary Incontinence in Women,” Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery (2017) epub ahead of print.