Kegel exercises are super simple actions that really make a difference to your pelvic floor.
And your pelvic floor does a lot.
It supports the uterus (that’s your womb), bladder, small intestines, and rectum.
Giving birth, getting older, or even just heavy lifting and straining all weaken these muscles over time.
A weakened pelvic floor can then lead to leaks, incontinence, and prolapse, which, let’s face it, aren’t great.
Here’s how to do Kegel exercises for women, so you can look after this all-important area of your body.
In this article: 📝
- Why are Kegel exercises important?
- What are Kegel exercises?
- How many Kegels should I do a day?
- How long should you be able to hold a Kegel?
- Can you do Kegels lying down?
- Do Kegel exercises make it tighter?
- How long does it take for Kegels to work?
- How do you tell if Kegels are working?
Why are Kegel exercises important?
Kegel exercises are particularly important if you’re experiencing any urinary incontinence (like not being able to hold your pee when you laugh, cough, or have a full bladder) or notice any leaking poop (called fecal incontinence).
But they can benefit in other ways too.
Pelvic floor muscles naturally weaken as we get older.
Things like pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, constipation, chronic coughing, body weight, and surgery can all affect these essential muscles.
“Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles is one of the best ways to prepare the body for childbirth and recovery after,” explains HCPC specialist Biomedical scientist Kellie Leonard.
“In fact, the UK-based National Health Service (NHS) even recommends all women to begin a kegal program as soon as they find out they are pregnant, with a plethora of research showing that women have less pelvic pain after delivery and decrease their risk of tearing.”
What are Kegel exercises?
For starters, to properly do Kegel exercises, you need to find the right muscles.
To find your pelvic floor, imagine you’re stopping peeing midstream.
You could also imagine you’re trying to squeeze a tampon or hold something up within your vagina.
And there you go — you’ve been introduced to your pelvic floor.
In terms of how to do Kegel exercises, they’re really simple.
Just tighten your pelvic muscles as if you’re lifting and squeezing a marble.
Start by trying it for just three seconds, then slowly relax your muscles for another three.
And that’s it!
It’s then all about repeating these exercises and mixing up how fast and for how long you contract your muscles.
While you’re doing Kegels, stay focused and breathe deeply.
Avoid tightening the muscles in your belly, thighs, or bum at the same time, and don’t do them with a full bladder.
How many Kegels should I do a day?
If you’re just starting out, begin by doing one Kegel for three seconds.
If this feels fine, move on to holding it for five seconds, then relaxing for five.
Whatever you’re working with, try to do five reps on your first day.
Keep this going each day until you feel confident.
Then, try to hold for ten seconds, relaxing your muscles for another ten seconds between contracting.
You could do this three or four times a day, for instance, just after you wake up, at lunchtime, or sitting on the sofa in the evening.
Before you know it, you’re at 30 to 40 Kegels already!
Kegels are stealth exercises that only you know you’re doing.
So you can do them wherever and whenever works for you.
If you’re worried you’re making faces, practice doing them in front of a mirror.
How long should you be able to hold a Kegel?
How long you can hold a Kegel depends on how long you’ve been practicing, how strong your pelvic floor muscles are, and your age and health.
For beginners, try to hold a Kegel for three to five seconds.
If you’ve been practicing them for a while, up the contract/relax cycle to ten seconds at a time.
You could also try switching up the type of exercises you do.
For instance, mix “long-hold” ten-second contractions with “quick flicks.”
These are short, two to three-second contractions and releases.
Can you do Kegels lying down?
You can do Kegels in pretty much any position that’s comfortable for you.
Kegel exercises are great sitting at your desk, driving the car, doing the washing-up, relaxing, or just sitting on the sofa watching TV.
The important thing is that you focus, breathe deeply, and find the correct muscles.
Do Kegel exercises make it tighter?
Lots of people ask whether Kegel exercises have benefit sexually.
Well, other than reducing problems like incontinence, lots of women say, they these exercises make sex feel great too.
If you do Kegel exercises on a regular basis, they make your pelvic floor muscles stronger.
This may help your vagina feel stronger and tighter in turn.
You might also notice more intense orgasms.
How long does it take for Kegels to work?
If you’re doing Kegel exercises properly and regularly, you can expect results pretty quickly.
Most women report an improvement (for instance, less frequent leaks or more enjoyable sex) within a few weeks to a few months.
If you don’t notice any changes, there’s a chance you might not have found your pelvic floor muscles.
So if you’re struggling, don’t be embarrassed to ask your doctor for help.
For more info on why Kegels are important (and how to do them), check out the brilliant TikTokker “KnowYourFloors” aka Suzanne Vernazza.
How do you tell if Kegels are working?
Kegel exercises help women in so many ways.
So there’s no one way of telling whether they’re working.
Instead, think about your own reasons for doing Kegels.
If you’re doing Kegel exercises to stop the occasional leak when sneezing or laughing — has this improved?
If so, your Kegels are working!
If you’re doing them during pregnancy, are you gradually able to hold the squeeze for longer and longer?
If you started on three seconds but are now pushing seven, eight, or nine seconds at a time — then your Kegels are working.
If you don’t feel your Kegel exercises working, chat with your doctor.
Things like urinary and fecal incontinence have a very real impact on daily life, and there might be other ways they can help.
And remember, the Peanut community is a judge-free zone.
The conversation is already happening!