How to Do Kegel Exercises

By Temma Ehrenfeld @temmaehrenfeld
October 09, 2023

As women get older, it’s not uncommon to leak pee when you cough, sneeze, or laugh hard. Here's how to do Kegel exercises to help stop that problem.

As women get older, it’s not uncommon for to leak pee when you cough, sneeze, or laugh hard. You may also often find that contractions during an orgasm feel fainter, or it’s just plain harder to get excited and have one.

You can address such concerns with a workout of the muscles in your vagina. The same workouts also help women avoid tears during childbirth and post-pregnancy issues.


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What are Kegel exercises?

You may have heard of the “the pelvic floor,” or the “PC” muscle, which stands for “pubococcygeus.” The pelvic floor is a hammock of muscle, tissues, and nerves, all connecting your bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum.

If you tighten the muscle you use to stop the flow of urine — the PC muscle — and then release it, you’ve just exercised your pelvic floor. Each squeeze and release is known as a Kegel exercise, after Arnold Kegel, the gynecologist who first described them in 1948.

Don’t rush: the relaxation between each squeeze is important, too.

How to do Kegel exercises

Many women have trouble isolating the PC muscle. Try it while you’re peeing. You might also imagine squeezing a pebble with your vagina.

You can also repeat the squeeze-release trick naked while standing and holding a hand mirror under your crotch. Expect to see the bridge between your vagina and anus — the perineum — contract each time you squeeze the PC muscle. On the other hand, the muscles of your inner thighs and those in your butt shouldn’t move.

Most people can squeeze the PC muscle for two seconds when they begin doing Kegels. The goal is to build up to five- or 10-second squeezes. That may require attention but, especially if you’ve been peeing involuntarily, you’ll be glad you took the trouble to learn how to do Kegel exercises.

Use Kegels as your secret weapon against life’s time-wasters. Instead of fuming, you can get stronger whenever you have to wait, say in the morning traffic jam. You’ll also want to build Kegel exercises into a daily routine. Start with at least four reps, working up to at least eight reps three times a day to treat urinary incontinence.  

Other ways that can help

Kegel instructed his patients to practice pelvic floor muscle exercises for 20 minutes, three times a day.

Women who aren’t sure they’re getting enough benefit from their PC muscle exercises can benefit from a session with a physical therapist. Ask your gynecologist for a referral. You might even try biofeedback, in which electronic sensors detect the strength of each contraction and let you know how you’re doing.

To enhance orgasms, take a step further and use devices that offer resistance. They might come in the shape of barbells, weighted cones, or plastic tongs. Fancier digital devices will track your progress.


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October 09, 2023

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN