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A Kegel exerciser is a device used to strengthen a woman's pelvic muscles, specifically the pelvic floor. This area, called the pubococcygeus (PG) muscles, provides vital support for the bladder, bowel, and uterus. The weakening of these muscles can cause pelvic organ prolapse, which can lead to urinary and bowel incontinence. Childbirth, age, and even a chronic cough can all contribute to lax PG muscles, so all women are encouraged to regularly perform Kegel exercises as part of their normal wellness routine.
Kegel exercises help tone the PG muscles, and can be done without a device. The use of a Kegel exerciser ensures that the exercises are performed correctly, using the right muscles, and give the user a way to track her progress. Some models even have ways for the user to increase resistance and weight, further strengthening the pelvic floor.
The most basic form of Kegel exerciser is a clamp-like device that fits between the upper thighs. The exercise is performed by squeezing the clamp closed and slowly releasing it as many times as possible. The action of squeezing with that particular area works the PG muscles the same way that traditional Kegels performed without a device do. The benefit comes from the added resistance, which works the muscles harder, and the assurance that the appropriate muscles are being targeted when the device is used correctly.
There are more advanced Kegel exercisers on the market that require partial insertion into the vagina. The inserted piece is generally made from molded silicone for comfort and disinfection purposes, and is shaped in a such a way that it will sit securely between the muscles that contract. Some models have an attached pressure gauge which allows the user to accurately measure the amount of pressure she is exerting, giving her a way to track her progress. Many models include biofeedback monitors that track and display muscle tone measurements to provide the user with a comprehensive picture of her progress.
Some Kegel exercisers have a pressure sensor inside the inserted piece itself, which connects to a visual display that will let the user know how much pressure she is exerting. Other types use actual weights that attach to the piece, and can be changed as PG strength increases. The newest type of Kegel exerciser on the market feature a handheld machine that is connected to the inserted piece by plastic tubing. The user turns on the machine, and the machine inflates the inserted piece with a pre-determined amount of air, which the user must use her PG muscles to push back out through the tube. The necessary strength and action required to deflate the inserted piece forces the user to do a quite intense Kegel exercise.
In addition to the exercisers detailed in this article, women can perform simple kegel exercises that do not require a kegel exerciser. The easiest way to identify the kegel muscles is to isolate the muscles you use to stop urine flow in midstream. These are the muscles you want to exercise.
Lying flat on the floor on your back, with your knees bent and apart, tighten your kegel muscles for three seconds then relax the muscles for three seconds, and continue this tightening-relaxing routine for several cycles. Only tighten the kegel muscles--not the nearby muscles.
Start slowly and increase the number of cycles after you have worked out over a period of days or weeks and have strengthened the muscles and become accustomed to the exercise.
Kegel exercises can also be beneficial to men. The weakening of the pelvic muscles in men can lead to incontinence and urinary leakage. The removal of the prostate and certain diseases can cause weakening of the pelvic muscles in men. Regardless of the causes, there are measures men can take to improve their situations.
Kegel exercises for men can make a big difference, and these exercises may also improve a man's sexual performance, so there is another reason to research kegel exercises and get to work, men.