How accurate are prostate cancer tests?
Do men need to do Kegel exercises?
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, aren't just for women as we're often led to believe. Kegel exercises can also strengthen men's pelvic floor muscles and may have a range of benefits on men's health.
The pelvic floor muscles wrap around the underneath of the bladder and rectum. They support the bladder and bowel, and affect sexual function. Doing appropriate exercises strengthens them just like any other weakened muscle, and can also address common issues that arise as men age, as this group of muscles weaken as men get older.
They can be particularly useful for men who've had prostate surgery (for enlarged prostate or prostate cancer) or who have overactive bladder issues (OAB). While OAB issues are more common in women than men, they are by no means only a female preserve and become more common in men with age. Exercises can also help with a variety of sexual function problems.
How to identify the pelvic floor muscles
The first step to doing pelvic floor exercises is identifying where exactly the muscles are located. This can be done by stopping the flow of urine when you go to the toilet midway through, or tightening the muscles to keep you from passing gas. You may feel your testicles tighten as you do so
If you are able to do this, you have found the correct muscles. This is not classed as an exercise and should not be done repeatedly, but merely used as a way of identifying where the pelvic floor muscles are for future reference.
How do men do Kegel exercises and what position is best?
Once you have located where the muscles are, you will be able to do Kegel exercises in any position; however, you may find it easier to start off lying down.
To do Kegel exercises, sit, stand or lie with your knees parted slightly. Once comfortable, tighten the pelvic floor muscles. The aim is to contract and hold only those muscles and not rely on other muscles, so avoid pulling in your stomach, squeezing your legs, tightening your buttocks or holding your breath. The movements and sensations should be more subtle than with other muscle exercises.
Try tightening these muscles, holding for 3-5 seconds then relaxing - these are long squeezes and you should be able to hold for longer as your pelvic floor strength improves. Now repeat, but relax the muscles as soon as you've tightened them - these are quick squeezes.
It is normal to feel a gentle tightening in your stomach when completing Kegel exercises, and you may feel the base of your penis move up slightly towards your abdomen.
If you're having trouble doing Kegel exercises, you can seek help from your doctor or physiotherapist, who can ensure you are strengthening the right muscles. You should also seek medical advice if you find the exercises painful, as they shouldn't cause pain, and you might be doing them incorrectly. Don't be embarrassed to ask for feedback.
How often should men do Kegel exercises?
Pelvic floor muscles need to be exercised regularly in order to function properly. Once you know how to do the exercises, you can do them three to four times per day.
It's a good idea to have set times for your Kegel exercises - for example, every time you do a daily routine task, like brushing your teeth or boiling the kettle. You could even set a reminder on your phone.
Some other tips are to do a set after urinating to get rid of the last few drops of urine and also just before and during any activity that puts pressure on your abdomen, such as sneezing, coughing, laughing or heavy lifting.
Begin with 10 repetitions of long squeezes, alternating with some quick squeezes. You will be able to slowly increase this with time as the muscles get stronger, to do up to 20 reps. Each contraction should be held for a few seconds, followed by a rest period of the same length. As you continue exercising the muscles, you will notice an ability to hold the contractions for longer.
What are the benefits of Kegel exercises for men?
Kegel exercises can have a wide range of benefits for different aspects of male health, including:
- Preventing sudden and urgent needs to urinate.
- Helping to maintain erections.
- Improving the hardness of erections by encouraging good blood flow to the groin area.
- Increasing the pleasure experienced during sex with good blood flow.
- Increasing the number of orgasms a man can have in a period of time.
- Preventing premature ejaculation.
- Preventing leakage during activities such as running, jumping, coughing or sneezing.
When to expect seeing results from your exercises
If you do your Kegel exercises regularly, you can expect to see results within a few weeks to a few months. For continued health benefits, Kegel exercises should become a permanent part of your daily routine.