Wednesday, December 7

Pelvic floor exercises: benefits for women and men

Pelvic floor exercises have several positive health effects. And, although the belief is widespread that they are only valid for women, also men they can benefit from them.

The idea that they are “for women” comes from their origin: it was the American gynecologist Arnold Kegel who was the first to propose these exercises, in the late 1940s, in order to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic area and, therefore, way, prevent urinary incontinence of women after childbirth.

That is why they are also known as kegel exercises, at least the most basic and essential. Other specialists -such as the Norwegian Kari Bo– later developed other techniques; but Kegel’s are still the best known, for their effectiveness and the ease with which they can be practiced.

For women and also for men

Why are pelvic floor exercises not just for women? In the first place, because not only women (and not only after childbirth) suffer from urinary incontinence: it is a problem that reaches all genders. It often arises as a consequence of natural aging, and also due to weight gain.

In addition, it can appear after gynecological or prostate surgery. It can even occur as a result of certain nervous disorders or cerebralas indicated by a Article from the US National Library of Medicine.

Urinary incontinence consists of involuntary loss of urinewhich can occur at any time or with certain efforts, from some more considerable (such as lifting heavy objects, exercising or having sex) to others very small (laughing, sneezing, coughing, standing up).

According to Spanish Association of Urology, one in three women over fifty years of age and one in four men older than forty suffered from urine loss. On the other hand, pelvic floor exercises are also useful for another type of incontinence, less common but more unpleasant: fecal incontinence.

Sexual benefits of pelvic floor exercises

The kegel exercises strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which are two: the coccygeus and the levator ani muscle, which in turn is made up of the pubococcygeus, ileococcygeus and puborectalis tracts. The main benefit, then, goes through what has already been mentioned: the solution -and the prevention- of urinary incontinence (and also fecal incontinence).

But this is not the only positive effect: there are also sexual benefits. For women, one of the main ones is that these exercises relax the muscles of the vagina. In fact, they are also recommended in the treatment of vaginismus.

Vaginismus is one of the most common sexual dysfunctions among women: it causes involuntary contraction of the muscles surrounding the vagina, which prevents penetration (if penetration does occur but causes pain, we speak of dyspareunia).

In addition, pelvic floor exercises improve blood circulation in that area, which makes it more sensitive and promotes arousal. It also increases vaginal lubrication and increases the quality and intensity of orgasms. This is how he explains it Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Centerbased in the United States.

In men, meanwhile, the toning of these muscles – which support the bladder and intestine – also affects sexual function: enhances erection and helps make it more durable. In addition, it can make orgasms more intense.

And just like in the case of women, Kegel exercises help treat one of the most common sexual deaths: premature ejaculation. This is because such exercises collaborate with the control of the ejaculatory reflexand therefore cause it to be delayed.

various studies point out that, after four months of treatment with pelvic floor exercises against premature ejaculation, the degree of success reached 60%. Beyond that figure, it should be borne in mind that, as happens with incontinence, exercising not only helps to solve these problems, but also to prevent them.

How and when to perform pelvic floor exercises

Performing the exercises is simple. The first step, as the experts of the Mayo Clinicit is identify the correct muscles. One way to do this is to start urinating and suddenly stop urination: doing so involves contracting precisely the muscles of the pelvic floor.

Another way is to tighten the muscles as if trying to contain the expulsion of flatulence. The exercises consist of that: contract the muscles between 3 and 5 seconds and then relax them for a similar period of time. The recommendation is to series of ten contractionsthree times a day.

An important issue is that other muscles should not be tightened at the same time. If, along with the pelvic floor, the thighs, abdomen, buttocks or other part of the body are tensed, the exercise is being performed incorrectly. You should also not hold your breath. At first it can seem a little complicated, but it can be achieved with a little practice.

Kegel exercises can be performed almost anytime, whether you are standing, sitting, or lying down. while doing other activities. In fact, one way to achieve consistency is to incorporate them into your daily routine: practice them when brushing your teeth, after eating, before finishing work, etc.

However, simple as they are, specialists advise not to exceed: do not perform more than the aforementioned three series of ten or at most fifteen daily repetitions. On the contrary, the muscles could be overloaded and cause injury or pain. Nor should they be done when urinating, as they could damage the bladder or kidneys.

Generally, four to six weeks after the beginning of the systematic practice of pelvic floor exercises, the first results. Above all, in relation to urinary incontinence: urine losses are reduced or disappear.

Of course, if doubts arise – such as whether the exercises are being carried out correctly – it is advisable to consult a specialist: a doctor or a specialist physiotherapist in pelvic floor exercises.

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