Can Kegel Exercises Help With Erectile Dysfunction?
When most people think of Kegel exercises, they usually associate them with women. While it’s true that Kegel exercises are a great way for women to recover muscle strength after childbirth, they’re not the only gender that can benefit from these exercises. In fact, Kegel exercises for men are a very good way to strengthen sexual performance and prevent other medical issues, such as urinary incontinence, from developing.
Kegel exercises can be especially helpful in reliving some symptoms of erectile dysfunction. They’re most effective when combined with other treatments, such as erectile dysfunction medication. The combination of boosting circulation to the penis and strengthening the surrounding muscles can provide positive results to men suffering from performance problems.
One of the best aspects of Kegel exercises is that they can be completed anywhere. They require no special equipment and pose no health risks. There are no negative side effects from Kegel exercises, and any man can do Kegel exercises. Since there are so many benefits to doing Kegel exercises, learning the proper technique is one way men can begin boosting sexual performance immediately. This will allow men to improve their overall health and make other treatments more effective.
What Are Kegel Exercises?
Kegel exercises, or Kegels, were created by a gynecologist named Arnold Kegel in the 1940s. This California doctor used special equipment to gauge the strength of pelvic floor muscles, and this showed him that certain motions could be used to make those muscles stronger. These became known as Kegel exercises.
At the time, the idea behind Kegel exercises was to strengthen the vaginal muscles in women in order to prevent issues like vaginal prolapse and urinary incontinence. However, people soon discovered that Kegel exercises offered additional benefits. For men, Kegel exercises can help with various aspects of sexual performance. They can also improve prostate health and be used in treatment for both erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.
Kegel exercises require the exerciser to tighten and release his pelvic floor muscle, essentially performing a resistance training exercise to work that specific area. The pelvic floor muscle runs through the pelvis, connecting the pubic bone to the tailbone. Along the way, it travels just below the prostate and the base of the scrotum. This creates a hammock-shaped mass of muscle. When it’s strong, the muscle is taut; if the muscle is weak, it sags somewhat, which puts pressure on surrounding areas of the body.
When doing Kegel exercises, squeeze this muscle, then allow it to relax. This tightens and strengthens the muscle in the same way that doing sit-ups tightens abdominal muscles. Tight, strong pelvic floor muscles help to strengthen a man’s entire pelvic area, providing benefits to sexual performance as well as protecting him from developing some other medical issues.
The Importance of Strong Pelvic Floor Muscles
Like any muscle, the pelvic floor can become weak if it’s not used frequently. It can also be damaged by injuries. There are several things that may negatively affect the strength of a man’s pelvic floor muscles:
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Constipation causing straining to empty the bowels
- Heavy weightlifting, particularly over a prolonged period of time
- Strain from chronic coughing
All of these can put additional pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, creating strain that will ultimately lead to weakness. If a person does nothing to counteract the weakening of a man’s pelvic floor, he may begin to experience problems.
One of the most common effects of a weak pelvic floor muscle is urinary incontinence. This is especially pronounced in men who have prostate issues or who have had their prostates removed for medical reasons. Doing Kegel exercises can help to restore the pelvic floor muscle strength and reverse these problems.
Doing Kegel exercises can also offset the potentially detrimental effects of a lifestyle including all or most of the above risk factors. In other words, Kegel exercises can help to protect the integrity of pelvic floor muscles from a sedentary lifestyle or from weightlifting injuries. Kegel exercises are the only way to strengthen the pelvic floor muscle, so nothing else will provide the same benefits as doing Kegel exercises.
One unexpected benefit of Kegel exercises is that doing them can also prevent pain in other areas of the body such as the lower back. The reason for this is that weak pelvic floor muscles put additional strain on other muscle areas in the body. When a man has a weak pelvic floor, his abdominal muscles will pick up the slack. This can lead to problems with the core muscles, often causing back and hip pain. Doing Kegel exercises can reverse this issue and reduce pain, helping to build a stronger core. Men who do Kegel exercises often develop better posture and overall core muscle strength.
How Do Kegel Exercises for Men Work?
Before men can successfully perform Kegel exercises, they will need to identify his pelvic floor muscle. The easiest way to do this is while urinating. Stop the flow mid-stream. Pay attention to how this feels. The muscle that is squeezed to halt urination is the pelvic floor muscle. This is also the muscle that is squeezed to avoid passing gas.
Note that men should only attempt to halt a stream of urine while identifying the muscle. Do not complete Kegel exercises during urination. Doing so can lead to difficulties evacuating the bladder in the future. However, doing Kegel exercises after urination is convenient and helps to fully empty the bladder.
Once the patient knows which muscle to target, performing Kegel exercises is easy. Squeeze the pelvic floor muscle and hold it. Begin by holding for three seconds, then releasing for three seconds. Do several repetitions. As the muscle strengthens, the squeeze can be held longer. A person can also complete more reps to continue building the muscle strength.
For the best results, isolate only the pelvic floor muscles. The Kegel exercises will not be effective if nearby muscle areas such as the abdomen or buttocks are recruited to do the work. This is why it’s important to focus on small numbers of perfect reps in the beginning: Attempting to do too much too soon will make the patient rely on other muscle areas and reduce the effectiveness of the Kegel exercises. Eventually, work up to doing up to 18 repetitions of Kegel exercises, holding each for 10 seconds. This repetition of Kegel exercises will provide the best benefits without over-exerting the pelvic floor.
A doctor can help patients perform Kegel exercises more effectively by employing biofeedback. This is a process where a small device is inserted rectally. When doing Kegel exercises, the device will be squeezed, allowing the doctor to measure the strength of the pelvic floor muscles. Biofeedback allows the doctor to check the effectiveness of the Kegel exercises, checking for form and seeing whether the Kegel exercises are being performed correctly.
Kegel Exercises as a Treatment for Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction occurs when a man is unable to achieve or sustain an erection long enough to participate in sexual activity. In most cases, ED is caused by vascular issues, with poor circulation to the penis resulting in an inability to maintain an erection.
However, the pelvic floor muscle does play a role in achieving and sustaining an erection as well, so some men find that Kegel exercises can help with ED. Several studies have shown that incorporating Kegel exercises into an overall lifestyle change including losing weight and improving diet is more effective for treating erectile dysfunction than making these lifestyle changes alone.
Alone, Kegel exercises may or may not be effective for treating erectile dysfunction. Interested patients should however speak to their doctors about Kegel exercises and whether Kegel exercises may be an appropriate part of a treatment plan. Depending on the cause of erectile dysfunction, Kegel exercises may be more or less effective, but they certainly cannot hurt. Kegel exercises will also have additional benefits that can be enjoyed whether or not they treat the symptoms of ED.
Other Ways Kegel Exercises Boost Sexual Performance
Aside from reducing the frequency and severity of erectile dysfunction, Kegel exercises can improve sexual performance in other ways:
- Performing Kegel exercises can give men better control over erections and the timing of ejaculation, preventing premature ejaculation.
- Some studies suggest that Kegel exercises can create firmer erections, leading to the appearance of a larger penis.
- Kegel exercises may help to improve the quality of a man’s orgasm, improving sexual pleasure.
Since the pelvic floor muscle is the area that contracts during ejaculation, the link between Kegel exercises and orgasm should be clear. Some men find that performing Kegel exercises during sexual activity can help to delay orgasm. Over time, this may allow some men to retrain their bodies and prevent premature ejaculation or achieve better sexual stamina.
Incorporating Kegel Exercises Into a Man’s Life
Perhaps the best thing about Kegel exercises for men is that they can be performed at any time. Once the patient has identified his pelvic floor muscles and mastered the motion of the Kegel exercises, he can perform them throughout his day to provide constant strength training of this muscle area. He can do Kegel exercises before or after using the restroom, while he’s waiting in line, in bed or even at work.
All men can benefit from Kegel exercises, and there is no risk to doing them. However, for maximum effectiveness, patients should consult with a doctor about the goals they hope to achieve. The doctor can help with biofeedback to ensure that patients are completing the Kegel exercises correctly, and he can also prescribe medications or additional therapies that can help them achieve their goals.
Kegel exercises alone may not be enough to treat erectile dysfunction. However, their effectiveness can be boosted by taking erectile dysfunction drugs like Viagra, Cialis or Levitra. Additionally, a doctor can help to identify any underlying medical issues that may be affecting a patient’s sexual performance, such as prostate problems. Once these issues are treated, Kegel exercises will be much more effective at boosting the patient’s sexual performance.