If you have a vagina then there's little to no chance you’ve gotten through life without hearing the word “Kegel.” You may feel as though having a vagina means you should know the full history and significance of the term, but in reality, you might just have a vague sense that Kegels are something you should be doing because they’re good for you. If you’re not familiar with Kegels, that probably means you haven’t had any concerns about your pelvic floor, which is good!
The other good news is whether you've learned what Kegels are the hard way, or are just dipping your toe in the Kegel exercise realm, you’ve landed in the right place. The following tips are for you, whether you’ve gone through pregnancy previously or not. This is a real-talk kind of resource for those who want to improve their overall health, even before it ever becomes a problem. If you’re planning to be pregnant, currently are, or have been in the past, these tips are especially advantageous so that you can be proactive about your health.
While it makes sense when you think about it, you may not have known that there are pregnancy-related risks for a weakened pelvic floor:
- Pregnancy itself
- Vaginal Delivery
In addition to these pregnancy-specific risk factors, the likelihood of developing a pelvic floor disorder increases with age and the number of children you've had.
Fortunately, incorporating regular Kegel exercises into your routine before, during, and after pregnancy, can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These are responsible for keeping your lower organs in place and help with both prevention and recovery from pelvic floor issues.
Here’s what you need to know about how pelvic floor training can help you:
A healthy pelvic floor is shown to help reduce lower back pain.
This benefit sells itself. If you don’t have it already from time to time, lower back pain is real during pregnancy. If you know it’s inevitable, why not do your part to make carrying a 6-9-pound human a little easier on yourself? Back pain doesn’t always go away after pregnancy, either. Without being intentional about re-aligning your spine, backaches can continue post-delivery.
Excess body weight is a risk factor for pelvic floor disorders.
If maintaining a healthy weight wasn’t already important enough, we also must think about the extra weight gained during pregnancy and how supporting these extra pounds in our core region can affect our pelvic floor.
During this time of growth, your body supports the burden of baby weight by arching your spine, which tilts the pelvis forward. The extra weight and pressure pushing on the pelvic floor stretches out these muscles, and giving birth can do so even more.
How do Kegels help? Some healing will happen naturally post-delivery, but doing these pelvic floor exercises helps to reconnect your core by activating the deep abdominal muscles which re-align your spine, pull in the stomach, and help to alleviate post-pregnancy back pain.
Keeping your core strong is key.
The pelvic floor muscles are the base of your core, so keeping these muscles healthy helps to develop and maintain a strong core, as well as stabilize the hip joints. Not only that, the lack of connection to these deep core muscles is directly linked to control over bladder and bowel movements.
We also hold stress here; so, without learning how to strengthen this region and intentionally relax, we can carry a lot of stress and tension which weakens and causes this area to lose tone because our pelvic floor gets “stuck.” When we lose connection to this web of muscles creating our pelvic floor, we lose the ability to mindfully relax this area.
Practicing regular training of the core pelvic floor muscles will help prevent against the loss of tone, motion, and flexibility that can happen over time.
Regain and improve your sexual health.
Naturally, it will take some time after delivery to heal and feel like yourself again. Kegel exercises are always beneficial for sexual health; prior to, during, and after pregnancy. You might find them especially helpful for regaining your sexual sense of self after childbirth. These exercises increase blood circulation to the pelvic floor and vagina, which helps with sexual arousal. Strengthening and learning how to isolate and contract these muscles also helps with natural lubrication and achieving orgasm.
Prevent a lack of bladder control and urinary incontinence.
We’ve all heard that constantly having to pee is a peril of pregnancy. If you’ve been there, you know it’s true. Imagine having a weak pelvic floor which also adds the fun twist of fearing to have an accident at any time due to the increased pressure weighing on your bladder. Not ideal, right? Also imagine, that this lack of bladder control continues after pregnancy, or even worse, it develops into what is called urinary incontinence. Got your attention? Good, because Kegel exercises can help prevent and treat all these scenarios. Read on!
How do I start pelvic floor training?
The Perifit pelvic floor trainer and makes Kegel exercises easy and fun. The free app created to work with Perifit gives you multiple program options to choose from to select your individual training goals; from postpartum recovery to intimate well-being, incontinence, or prevention modes.
The app intuitively tracks your weekly and daily goals and can be set to alert you with notifications. It also provides recommendations for use to see your desired results; making the entire process of finding appropriate exercises, making sure you are performing them properly, and keeping up with them regularly super easy to manage. Fitness routines need to be simple enough to work with a busy schedule, and Perifit does just that. All the guesswork has already been done for you, and the importance of pelvic floor health and your wellbeing has been nicely packaged in a method that easily becomes a trusted tool for self-care.
- Pelvic floor and your sex life
- Preparing your pelvic floor for labor and birth
- Taking care of your pelvic floor postpartum
- Postpartum bodies: 5 things you should know
Asher, A., Hughes, G., & Cpt. (2017, May 27). Pelvic Floor Contractions Might Help Your Back Pain - Here's How. Retrieved February 23, 2019, from https://www.verywellhealth.com/pelvic-floor-strengthening-297184
Dieter, A. A., Wilkins, M. F., & Wu, J. M. (2015, October). Epidemiological trends and future care needs for pelvic floor disorders. Retrieved February 26, 2019, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26308198
Pelvic Floor Muscle (Kegel) Exercises for Women to Improve Sexual Health. (n.d.). Retrieved February 25, 2019, from https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/pelvic-floor-muscle-kegel-exercises-women-improve-sexual-health
Roughly One-Quarter of U.S. Women Affected by Pelvic Floor Disorders. (2015, September 28). Retrieved February 23, 2019, from https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/roughly-one-quarter-us-women-affected-pelvic-floor-disorders
The Secrets of the Pelvic Floor. (2018, December 21). Retrieved February 25, 2019, from https://goop.com/wellness/sexual-health/the-secrets-of-the-pelvic-floor/