Most women are familiar with pelvic floor exercises, or Kegels. Doctors often recommend them during pregnancy and after childbirth to strengthen the pelvic floor. But did you know that Kegels are good for men too?
What Are Pelvic Floor Exercises for Men?
Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and bowels. They are simple, repetitive exercises you can do anywhere and at any time. No one can tell you’re doing them.
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Why Should Men Do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
Doctors recommend pelvic floor exercises for men suffering from urinary incontinence (bladder leakage). According to the Urology Care Foundation, one in four men suffer from symptoms of urinary incontinence.
Kegel exercises also may improve your sexual health. Some doctors recommend them to help with erectile dysfunction.
Who Benefits From Pelvic Floor Exercises?
Kegels are good for everyone, but they are especially worthwhile for men with a weak pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles can lose their tone for many reasons, including:
- Prostate cancer surgery
- Chronic constipation
- Regular heavy lifting
- Chronic cough
- Being overweight
- Neurological damage after a stroke or spinal injury
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How to Do Pelvic Floor Exercises
With some practice, you can do Kegel exercises anywhere — at home, at work, even on your commute to work.
To locate the right muscles:
- Stop and start the flow of urine a few times when urinating
- Lie still on a bed with your legs, belly, and buttocks relaxed; then tighten your anus as though trying to stop gas from passing
- Pretend you’re trying to pull your penis into your body while lifting your scrotum up toward your belly (your penis and testicles may move a bit)
To do Kegels:
- Squeeze your pelvic muscles for three seconds, then relax for three seconds
- Aim for 10 to 15 repetitions (don’t worry if you can’t do that many at first); repeat three times per day
- Add one second to each repetition per week, until you work up to 10 seconds at a time
Practicing Kegels may feel strange at first. But as you gain strength and endurance, you’ll find you can do them anytime and anywhere.
When Should You Do Pelvic Floor Exercises?
Because you don’t need special equipment or space, you can fit pelvic floor exercises into any lifestyle. For best results, you should:
- Incorporate Kegels into your everyday routine
You’re more likely to stick with any exercise — including Kegels — if it’s a habit. Try doing a set when you’re showering in the morning. Do another set at lunchtime, and another while you’re watching a movie or unwinding before bed.
- Try doing Kegels at times when you might leak a little urine
Tighten your pelvic muscles when you feel a sneeze or cough coming on, or before you lift something heavy.
Tips on Doing Pelvic Floor Exercises
Practicing Kegels may feel strange at first. But as you gain strength and endurance, you can do them anytime and anywhere. Here are some tips for doing pelvic floor exercises:
- Focus only on pelvic floor muscles
Isolating the muscles is key. Make sure you’re not flexing the muscles in your buttocks, thighs, or abdomen. If you use those muscles, your pelvic floor won’t be doing the work.
Never hold your breath when doing Kegels. Slow, relaxed breathing will help you get the most out of pelvic floor exercises.
- Keep at it
Like other parts of the body, your pelvic floor muscles will get stronger through consistent repetition of movement. Make sure you do the exercises on a regular basis.
- Try different positions
Once you feel comfortable, try doing Kegels when you’re sitting, standing, or even during your daily activities.
- Be patient
It takes time for any muscles to gain strength. You may not notice a difference for several weeks, but your pelvic floor should eventually get stronger. Just like any other muscle, it is important not to overstress your pelvic floor muscles.
For more information about men’s sexual and reproductive health, visit the UPMC Men’s Health Center or call 1-877-641-4MEN (4636).
National Association for Continence: Incontinence Education and Support for Patients, Caregivers, and Professionals
U.S. National Library of Medicine: Kegel Exercises – Self Care
Simon Foundation for Continence: Kegel Exercises for Men for Pelvic Floor Strengthening
Urology Care Foundation: Kegel and Pelvic Floor Exercises
Urology Care Foundation: What Are Kegel Exercises?
Urology Care Foundation: What is Urinary Incontinence?
US National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health: Randomised controlled trial of pelvic floor muscle exercises and manometric biofeedback for erectile dysfunction
About Men’s Health Center
The UPMC Men’s Health Center is dedicated to male health and to the evaluation and treatment of conditions affecting men’s sexual and reproductive health. With years of clinical experience in male sexual medicine and surgery, our team has treated a wide variety of conditions and performed thousands of surgeries, providing patients with the highest level of quality care. Our providers understand the intimate nature of male sexual difficulties, and we are dedicated to helping you restore your normal level of sexual function in a comfortable, educational, and discreet environment.