Kegels, or pelvic floor exercises, are important for men and women. When performed regularly and consistently, they can help with male continence and sexual issues.
Keep reading to discover the benefits of Kegel exercises for males and how to perform them.
In 1948, United States gynecologist Dr. Arnold H. Kegel published a study about pelvic floor strengthening exercises for females following childbirth or surgery, using a device called a Perineometer.
These pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises after their inventor, are also important for males.
The pelvic floor muscles form a sling that runs from the tailbone at the back to the pubic bone at the front. These muscles support the bladder and the bowel, controlling the passing of urine, stools, and wind. They also have a role in erections during sex in males.
The pelvic floor in males can be weakened by:
- prostate surgery
- pelvic trauma or surgery
- straining to pass stools
- a persistent cough
- having obesity or overweight
- repeated heavy lifting
- an overactive bladder
- lack of exercise
As with any other muscle, conditioning the pelvic floor muscles through regular, consistent and correctly performed exercises makes them stronger. Therefore, they can perform their functions better and more reliably.
Possible benefits of Kegel exercises for males include:
- improving bowel and bladder control
- helping control the passage of wind
- preventing leakage of urine and stool
- helping the bladder empty completely
- helping with achieving erections
- helping prevent premature ejaculation
It can be challenging to determine whether a person is working on the right muscles while performing pelvic floor exercises, especially as these muscles are not visible.
Often, people are actually conditioning their inner thighs, their glutes, or their abdominals, making these movements less effective for strengthening pelvic floor muscles.
The first step is making sure the Kegel exercises are working the right muscles. A person can do this by:
- imagining themselves trying to stop passing urine mid-stream
- imagining themselves trying to stop passing wind by squeezing and pulling upwards
It is harder to feel the frontal muscles contract than those at the back.
A person needs to consistently perform Kegel exercises across weeks or even months to feel the results. People can do them while standing up, sitting, or lying down. It may be a good idea to start doing the exercises lying or sitting down.
Specific Kegel exercise instructions vary, but they generally involve:
- pulling up or contracting the pelvic floor muscles
- holding this for 3–5 seconds, building up to 10 seconds with practice
- relaxing slowly for the same time as the hold
- repeating 10 times, or until the muscles tire
These are slow-twitch exercises. A person should follow these up by performing fast-twitch movements, which are more of a quick flick of the muscles. They involve:
- pulling up the pelvic floor muscles
- holding them briefly for around 1 second
- repeating until the muscles are tired
A person should perform Kegel exercises 3–4 times a day, building repetitions as their strength increases, typically up to 20 each time.
Learn more about Kegel exercises, including some video examples.
Tips for performing Kegel exercises include:
- breathing naturally and not holding the breath
- tightening the muscles from back to front, pulling inwards and upwards
- not squeezing or flexing buttock, thigh, or abdominal muscles
- not raising eyebrows, shoulders, or toes
- trying other positions, such as standing or squatting, with practice
With regular Kegel exercise, a person’s pelvic floor strength will improve over time. It should gradually become easier to interrupt or hold passing urine if necessary, although this should not form part of a regular exercise routine.
Males who have difficulty locating their pelvic floor muscles should talk to their doctor. Healthcare professionals can refer them to a physiotherapist or continence advisor for specialist help with these exercises.
The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) also recommend a pelvic floor exercise app. It is aimed particularly at males working with a specialist to help with issues such as premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, and urinary incontinence.
Although people often do not discuss male Kegel exercises, they can be beneficial.
In particular, they may help resolve continence or erectile issues and problems obtaining and maintaining erections.
If males have difficulty performing these exercises, or the issues do not resolve, they should seek medical advice. A doctor may refer them to specialist help with these exercises and further guidance.