Stop Neglecting Your Pelvic Floor

by Tammi Ireland

PAR FEMME PELVIC FLOOR KEGEL MUSCLES

Stronger orgasms. Less chance you’ll wet yourself when sneezing post-partum. A closer relationship with your vagina. A ‘tighter' feeling for your partner. There are a thousand reasons to do your Kegel exercises, but what are they?

You exercise your Kegels when you stimulate your pelvic floor muscles through a series of movements designed to strengthen the area. If you do a set of bicep curls twice a day for a month, your arms will be strong and toned. So too is the effect of Kegel exercises on your vagina.

They’re easy and discreet—you can do them anywhere, anytime. In fact, I’m doing mine right now. Join me: sit down on a chair and relax from your hips to your toes. Let every muscle soften. Plant your feet on the floor. Imagine you’re going to urinate. Imagine you’re mid-stream, then stop. That movement you did to stop yourself? That’s how you tense your pelvic floor muscles. Release, and repeat ten times, holding each squeeze for five seconds at a time.

Here’s why we care about our Kegels: your pelvic floor muscles give you control over the anatomy they cover (your bowels, bladder, and uterus). When you enjoy an orgasm, give birth, or go to the bathroom, your pelvic floor muscles are engaged. Naturally, these muscles can relax and lose their effect over time, or after giving birth. To get them back to tip-top shape, or to help hold the weight of a pregnancy and prevent the muscles losing elasticity, women and men are encouraged to exercise their Kegel muscles. 

Another reason is, of course, the enhanced sexual responsiveness Kegel exercises afford us. A two-minute exercise, twice a day, could improve my sex life? Oh, yes. Stronger pelvic floor muscles improve blood flow to the vagina. Some women (and their partners) report having increased sensation during sex as a result of them doing their Kegel exercises. Vaginal tone—or ‘tightness’—and lubrication can also be improved.

I’ve done my Kegel exercises regularly for two months now, and my biggest learning is the heightened awareness of my vagina. I’m now hyper-aware of when I’m tensing without wanting to, or when I’m relaxed enough to be entered. For me, this means I’m more conscious of my sensuality around the clock. For others who may struggle to enjoy sex because of physiological or psychological pain, Kegel exercises can assist to relax and open your vagina through conscious awareness of the area.

Now you’re an expert at Kegel exercises, consider using an aid to up your game. Ben Wa balls—also known as Kegel balls—are small, weighted balls designed to be inserted into the vagina. Rather than actively doing your Kegel exercises and counting the seconds you hold, using these weighted balls means your pelvic floor naturally tenses to hold them in as you walk around, sit at your desk, or click ‘continue watching’ on Netflix as you head to the fridge.

Traditionally made from silicone or metal, these balls are easily inserted using a water-based lubricant and can be worn with or without underwear, wherever you feel comfortable. (FYI: never use silicone toys with latex lubricants.) Some come with retrieval strings for easy removal, while others invite you to fish them out with a finger (pleasurable in itself). Some even have vibrating capabilities—but that’s a whole different article.

No matter whether you’re doing your Kegel exercises with the aid of Ben Wa balls, or au naturel on the way to work in the morning, the benefits should out-weigh (!) any apprehension you have.

—Tammi Ireland

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Tammi Ireland
Tammi Ireland

Tammi Ireland is a Sydney-based sex educator who explores relationships and sensuality via BARE Sexology.