Kegel exercise

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A Kegel exercise, named after Dr. Arnold Kegel, consists of contracting and relaxing the muscles which form part of the pelvic floor (sometimes called the "Kegel muscles").


[edit] Explanation

The aim of Kegel exercises is to fortify muscle tone by strengthening the pubococcygeus muscles of the pelvic floor. Kegel is a popular prescribed exercise for pregnant women to prepare the pelvic floor for physiological stresses of the later stages of pregnancy and vaginal childbirth. Kegels exercises are said to be good for treating vaginal prolapse[1] and preventing uterine prolapse[2] in women; and for treating prostate pain and swelling resulting from benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatitis in men. Kegel exercises may be beneficial in treating urinary incontinence in both men and women.[3] Kegel exercises may also increase sexual gratification.

[edit] Kegel Exerciser

A Kegel exerciser

A Kegel exerciser is a medical device designed to be used by women to exercise the pubococcygeus muscle (also called the PC muscle). There are three main types: barbells, springs, and rubber bulbs. The barbells (or vaginal barbell) can be used as a vaginal exerciser or as a vaginal dildo or sex toy. Made of smooth, polished solid stainless steel, it is cylindrical in shape, with a rounded bulge at each end. They typically weigh one pound (454g) and measure approximately 6 3/4 inches (17.1 cm) in length with a diameter of one inch (2.5 cm) at the widest part. Being made of stainless steel, vaginal barbells are nonporous and can be wiped clean with a cloth moistened with mild soap and water. Spring devices are made of plastic, with removable springs to allow progressive resistance. These allow pressing directly against resistance. An advantage of rubber bulb devices is that they provide visual feedback (via a gauge) of how much pressure you are applying.

[edit] Benefits for women

Factors such as pregnancy, childbirth, aging and being overweight, and abdominal surgery such as cesarean section, often result in the weakening of the pelvic muscles. This can be assessed by either digital examination of vaginal pressure or using a Kegel perineometer. Kegel exercises are useful in regaining pelvic floor muscle strength in such cases.

[edit] Urinary incontinence

The consequences of weakened pelvic floor muscles may include urinary or bowel incontinence, which may be helped by therapeutic strengthening of these muscles. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that "PFMT [Pelvic floor muscle training] be included in first-line conservative management programmes for women with stress, urge, or mixed, urinary incontinence...The treatment effect might be greater in younger women (in their 40's and 50's) with stress urinary incontinence alone...".[4]

[edit] Pelvic prolapse

The exercises are also often used to help prevent prolapse of pelvic organs. A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by the Cochrane Collaboration concluded that "there is some encouragement from a feasibility study that pelvic floor muscle training, delivered by a physiotherapist to symptomatic women in an outpatient setting, may reduce severity of prolapse".[5]

[edit] Sexual function

It is said that Kegel exercises make the vagina tighter. Also, after childbirth, practicing pelvic-floor contractions during vaginal sex will allow the woman immediate feedback from her partner, who can tell her whether he or she can feel the muscles tightening. A newly-postpartum woman—who has yet to return to sexual intercourse—can retrain her pelvic floor muscles to their pre-pregnancy strength and tone by inserting two or three fingers, or a dildo into her vagina and squeezing them with pelvic-floor contractions. Specially-designed barbells and weighted insertable devices are available for this purpose. Women are able to add resistance to the exercise through isometrically gripping a hard object (such as a Kegel exerciser), or by compressing an object such as foam.

[edit] Benefits for men

The Kegel Male Exercise Trainer

Though most commonly used by women, men can also use Kegel exercises. For example, the Kegel Male Exercise Trainer is one such device. The trainer functions as a resistance exercise regimen targeting the three major muscles contained in the penis. These three muscles are believed to begin their natural atrophy after the age of 18. Using lightly weighted ball bearings of appropriate numbers (1 to 4 balls; provide a total weight of 2.5 ounces to a maximum of 10 ounces), the training apparatus focuses on the male Pubococcygeus (PC muscle), Bulbocavernosus and Ishiocavernosus muscles. The Trainer also strengthens the tunica albuginea, anal sphincter and urogenetial diaphragm. Strengthening these tissues has been reported to produce penis enlargement and increased testosterone levels.

They are used to strengthen the pubococcygeal muscle and other muscles of the pelvic diaphragm. Kegels can help men achieve stronger erections and gain greater control over ejaculation. The objective of this may be similar to that of the exercise in women with weakened pelvic floor: to increase bladder and bowel control and sexual function.

[edit] Incontinence

Regarding postprostatectomy urinary incontinence, a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials by the Cochrane Collaboration found that "there may be some benefit of offering pelvic floor muscle training with biofeedback early in the postoperative period immediately following removal of the catheter as it may promote an earlier return to continence".[6]

[edit] Sexual function

Kegel workouts can provide men with stronger erections. [7]There are said to be significant benefits for the problem of premature ejaculation from having more muscular control of the pelvis.[8] It is also possible that strengthening the pelvic floor may allow some men to achieve a form of orgasm without allowing ejaculation, and thereby perhaps reach multiple "climaxes" during sexual activity.[citation needed] In men, this exercise lifts up the testicles, also strengthening the cremaster muscle as well as the anal sphincter, as the anus is the main area contracted when a Kegel is done. This is because the pubococcygeus muscle begins around the anus and runs up to the urinary sphincter.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ eMedicineHealth: Vaginal Prolapse
  2. ^ MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Uterine prolapse
  3. ^ MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia: Kegel exercises
  4. ^ Hay-Smith EJ, Dumoulin C (2006). "Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women". Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (1): CD005654. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD005654. PMID 16437536. 
  5. ^ Hagen S, Stark D, Maher C, Adams E (2006). "Conservative management of pelvic organ prolapse in women". Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (4): CD003882. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD003882.pub3. PMID 17054190. 
  6. ^ Hunter KF, Glazener CM, Moore KN (2007). "Conservative management for postprostatectomy urinary incontinence". Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online) (2): CD001843. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD001843.pub3. PMID 17443512. 
  7. ^
  8. ^ Management of premature Ejaculation, Baum and Spiedler, Medical concepts of human sexuality 2001

[edit] External links

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