The lowdown on kegel exercises
Of all the muscles that comprise the pelvic floor, the pubococcygeus muscles are probably the most famous. The pubococcygeus muscles (more well-known as the PC muscles) run from the pubic bone to the tailbone, and form a sort of figure eight around the genitals. All people have PC muscles, and these muscles are instrumental in sexual response — in fact, they involuntarily contract during orgasm, and help to propel ejaculate.
In the forties, a gynecologist named Dr. Arnold Kegel developed the idea of exercising the PC muscles, and the concept of kegel exercises was born. Although Kegel was primarily focused on treating urinary incontinence, one of his papers did mention off-handedly that “sexual appreciation can be increased by restoring function of the pubococcygeus.” Indeed, kegel exercises are now largely associated with sexuality, and for good reason — doing them regularly has many sexual benefits.
Kegel exercise generally consists of voluntarily and repetitively contracting and relaxing the PC muscles. Many associate kegel exercise with a tighter vagina, but that is just one perk of toned PC muscles. Regular kegel exercise can have a variety of pleasurable effects, such as heightened sexual sensitivity, stronger orgasms, and greater response to G-spot stimulation. The more the PC muscles are toned, the more they can relax, so kegels are great for those wanting to have anal sex, or for anyone experiencing difficulty with penetration. With kegel practice and repetition, some vagina owners can even learn to ejaculate/squirt.
For people with penises, toned PC muscles can result in improved ejaculatory control, somewhat firmer erections, and a shorter refractory period (the span of time between ejaculations).
Kegel excercises can be extremely helpful during pregnancy and after birth as well. Kegels are well-known for facilitating excellent bladder control, so they can ease problems with urinary incontinence. Strengthened PC muscles can also prepare the pelvic floor for childbirth, and may help prevent tearing and episiotomy. After birth, regular exercise of the PC muscles can accelerate postpartum healing, restoring tightness and muscle tone in the vagina.
Finding ’em and toning ’em
Locate your PC muscles by pretending that you are peeing and want to stop the flow of urine. The muscles that you contract are your PC muscles. To further increase your awareness of your PC muscles, you may want to insert two fingers into your vagina, squeeze with your PC muscles, then relax. Keep in mind that the relaxation motion is just as important as the tightening.
Here are some examples of simple kegel exercises. These can be done anywhere, in any position, during any activity you wish. Some people may prefer to do them while masturbating, watching porn, reading erotica, etc., but they can also be executed just as effectively while standing in line at the bank, at the computer checking Facebook, or in your car at a stoplight.
- Inhale and imagine that you are sucking water up into your vagina and anus. Hold it there for a moment, then exhale and bear down, pushing the imaginary water out.
- Contract and release your PC muscles several times in a row, each time gradually increasing how tightly you squeeze.
- Inhale, then quickly squeeze and release your PC muscles 5-10 times before exhaling.
- If you’d like to work the back part of the PC muscle loop specifically, contract and release your anus. Repeat this five times, taking care to only squeeze your anus — not your butt, thighs, or abs. The relaxation portion of this exercise is vital, so take your time releasing between squeezes.
With some time and repetition of these exercises, your PC muscles will be strengthened and toned nicely. If you’d like to go a step further in exercising your kegels, we have just the thing for you: sex toys!
Toys, toys, toys… in the vagina
Some people enjoy incorporating sex toys into their kegel exercises because toys provide a form of resistance. At She Bop, we carry a few types of kegel exercisers. One type consists of a small ball or two that can be inserted into the vagina and held in place (the Ami, Luna Beads, Smartballs Teneo Duo and Smartballs Teneo Uno fall into this category). For traditional kegel exercises, lube up the balls and insert one or both into your vagina. While grasping the toy with your PC muscles, gently tug on the retrieval string. The resistance provided by the tugging will enhance the exercise.
However, these balls really beg to be worn discreetly. Once inserted comfortably in the vagina, they can be left there as you go about your day. Each ball contains a smaller inner ball that will roll around and lightly vibrate as you move around (and don’t worry, nobody will hear them!). You can also squeeze your PC muscles around these balls when they are inside you — if you squeeze tightly enough, you just might feel the inner balls shiver in response.
Another type of kegel excercisor is simply a weighted dildo. Some toys — like the Energie, which weighs a pound — are made specifically for toning kegels. Others — like the aircraft-grade aluminum Classic Aluminum or stainless steel njoy Fun Wand — are made of weighty materials that are ideal for kegels. After the toy is inserted vaginally, the action of squeezing/releasing the toy exercises the PC muscles. Start with the larger end of the toy and work your way up to the more difficult smaller end. You can use the same exercise techniques detailed above with these toys.