What is stress incontinence? Stress incontinence in men and women is a common effect of aging. Women in particular can experience this after giving birth. Incontinence is the inability to control the passage of urine and can affect men just as much as women. Luckily there are simple and easily performed exercises of the pelvic floor muscles that can prevent, treat and even reverse incontinence. That’s where the Kegel comes in. Guys, don’t go anywhere – these Kegels are for men, too.
Kegels for Women
The basics of Kegel exercise are simple – you engage your pelvic floor muscles and hold for three seconds for a count of ten repetitions.
Find the muscles you use to stop urinating.
- To identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination in midstream.
- If you succeed, you've got the right muscles.
Do this two to three times a day.
- Squeeze these muscles for 3 seconds. Then relax for 3 seconds. Your stomach and thigh muscles should not tighten when you do this.
- Add 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds each time.
- Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times per session. Try to do this at least 3 times a day.
You can also practice engaging, holding for three seconds and releasing while doing other tasks such as talking on the phone, sitting in a waiting room, or in your car while you're stopped at a traffic light.
Kegels for Men
Yep, Kegels are also for men. Basically, finding the pelvic floor muscle group is the same for men as it is for women. The same muscles that stop and start urine, or prevent gas from passing are the muscles you want to engage while practicing your Kegel exercises. Some men we talked to were quite surprised to learn that men can, in fact, stop gas from passing. This was news to some of the wives, as well. Yes! So these are the muscles you want to engage and release, ten times, two to three times per day. Not only will you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, but also you'll prevent or reverse urinary incontinence, improve your sexual performance, and possibly even reduce the chances of developing erectile dysfunction. Get into the habit of doing Kegels while sitting in long meetings, waiting in line or on the commute to and from work.
One of the easiest ways to locate your muscles is during urination.
- Halfway through urination, try to stop or slow down the flow of urine.
- Don’t tense the muscles in your buttocks, legs, or abdomen, and don’t hold your breath.
- When you can slow or stop the flow of urine, you’ve successfully located these muscles.
To do Kegel exercises for men:
- Contract these muscles for a slow count of five.
- Release the muscles to a slow count of five.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Do a set of 10 Kegels daily, three times a day.
Benefits of Kegel Exercise
You may have experienced slight or even heavy loss of urine while performing certain tasks. Heavy lifting, sudden laughter, running, coughing or sneezing can trigger these accidents if your pelvic floor muscles are weak. This can also happen to men that undergo prostatectomy procedures to treat prostate cancer and other ailments of the prostate. Women after childbirth report similar accidents, as the act of giving birth naturally stretches and stresses the pelvic muscles. Strengthening the muscles in your pelvic floor will give you more control over urine loss as well as sexual health benefits, in women as well as men.
Understanding Our Bodies Better
The more we know about how the human body works, the better we can each understand and treat our individual health issues, and even prevent some age related issues from happening at all. There is an old saying, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It is true – it takes less effort to prevent a possible illness or ailment than it does to try and treat or cure the same ailment once we develop symptoms. Left untreated, these minor issues can become major ones, and the next thing you know you’re wearing adult diapers. Learning the basics of pelvic floor muscles and practicing these simple and easy to do Kegel exercises is well worth the time. It’s exercise that no one sees you doing, but is so very valuable to your health and quality of life as you age. It is never too early to start taking care of your body, inside and out!
Just as other muscle groups require regular exercise, so does your pelvic floor. Kegel exercises are the proven way to work these muscles for optimum health and performance! Kegels: use it or lose it!