Many vagina-owners are familiar with Kegel exercises: the pelvic-floor strengthening workout. But what are Kegels even good for? And should everyone with a vagina be doing them?
What are Kegels? According to Mayo Clinic, Kegels aren't actually just a vaggercise, "Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum." That means that Kegels can help strengthen muscles that may have been weakened over time by everything from pregnancy and childbirth to "chronic coughing."
So if you have a little bit of, um, leaking, Kegels may be able to help. But plenty of people do Kegels in hope that it will improve penetrative sex. According to Cosmopolitan, that may actually work. Doing Kegels also exercises vaginal muscles, and more blood-flow to your nethers can lead to more "more intense" orgasms.
But don't try Kegels to "tighten" your vagina: They don't do that, Cosmo says, and besides, many ideas about what makes vaginas tight (or not tight) are actually myths, so do your research.
How do you do Kegels? So now that we know all about what Kegels can and can't do, let's talk logistics. The first step of doing Kegel exercises is identifying the muscles involved. Mayo Clinic recommends doing this by trying to stop your pee midstream, and "If you succeed, you've got the right muscles. Once you've identified your pelvic floor muscles you can do the exercises in any position." But don't make stopping your pee a regular habit — Mayo Clinic warns that doing this too much can increase your risk of a urinary tract infection.
To do Kegels the right way, you want to "Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds," according to Mayo Clinic. "Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions." Eventually you will be able to do "three sets of 10 repetitions a day."
The great thing about Kegels is that you can pretty much do them wherever, whenever. On the bus, at work, during your friend's wedding... Now that you know how to do them, get out there and Kegel your way to whatever dreams you have for your pelvic floor!