In the quest to strengthen the pelvic floor and maintain better bladder control, many have turned to kegel exercises. These simple, yet effective, exercises can work wonders for people who might be experiencing incontinence, pelvic pain or even sexual dysfunction. However, like with any other health and wellness practice, is it possible that kegel exercises may not be suitable for everyone? In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the world of kegels, their benefits, and discuss whether they can be harmful in certain circumstances.
Can Kegel Exercises Be Harmful Table of Contents
Kegels, named after the American gynecologist Arnold Kegel, are exercises designed to improve muscle tone and strength in the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles are a hammock-like structure that spans the base of the spine to the pubic bone, providing support to the bladder, bowel, and uterus (in women).
kegel exercises are performed by contracting and releasing the pelvic floor muscles, just like you would when stopping and starting the flow of urine. They can be done discreetly, making them an easy and popular choice for those looking to improve pelvic floor muscle control.
Numerous benefits associated with kegel exercises
Improved bladder and bowel control: Strengthening the pelvic floor can help alleviate incontinence symptoms, a common issue faced by older adults and women post-pregnancy.
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Enhanced sexual function and orgasm: For women, a tight pelvic floor can improve sensation during intercourse and help achieve orgasm; for men, strong pelvic floor muscles can help maintain an erection and control ejaculation.
Reduced risk of pelvic organ prolapse: A strong pelvic floor provides better support for the internal organs, which can prevent prolapse (when an organ drops and presses on the vaginal wall).
Support during pregnancy: Kegels can help pregnant women maintain pelvic floor strength and prepare for a smoother delivery.
However, as beneficial as kegel exercises can be, there is potential for harm if not correctly performed or unsuitable for an individual.
Consider the following precautions and potential harmful effects of kegel exercises:
Incorrect muscle engagement: Over-activating the surrounding muscles, such as the buttocks or the abdomen, can cause strain and reduce positive results. It is essential to isolate and engage the proper pelvic floor muscles.
Excessive or aggressive practice: Simply put, overdoing kegel exercises can lead to a hypertonic (overly tight) pelvic floor. This excessive tension can result in pelvic pain, discomfort during sexual intercourse, and even further incontinence issues.
Underlying health conditions: Those with pre-existing pelvic conditions, such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease, should consult a healthcare professional before beginning kegel exercises, as doing so may worsen their condition.
Imagine a postpartum woman who starts practicing kegels to regain control of her bladder. Instead of seeking guidance, she follows a generic online regimen and strains excessively while performing the exercise. Due to her unnecessarily aggressive approach, she develops pelvic pain and her incontinence worsens. A physical therapist or a pelvic floor specialist may have been able to guide her towards a tailored and safer regimen that would effectively strengthen her pelvic floor muscles without jeopardizing her health.
kegel exercises can provide valuable benefits when done correctly and appropriately. If you are unsure if kegels are suitable for you, or if you are inexperienced in properly isolating your pelvic floor muscles, seeking guidance from a healthcare professional or a pelvic floor therapist is strongly recommended. When performed appropriately, kegel exercises can contribute significantly to one's overall pelvic health, quality of life, and sexual function.
We hope this article has been informative and enlightening. If so, please consider sharing it with others who may benefit! Don't forget to explore our other guides on pelvic floor therapy to further your understanding of this crucial aspect of health and wellness.