04 July 2018

How pelvic floor exercises can benefit men

Men may snicker at the thought of Kegels – the benefits, however, are nothing to scoff at.

If you suddenly find yourself experiencing a frequent urge to urinate, it may be a good idea to visit your doctor to check whether your pelvic floor muscles are in shape.

Kegel exercises are known to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum in women.

Kegels are, however, just as beneficial for men to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder and bowel. 

Why is it important for men to do Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises can be incredibly helpful for men who want to improve their bladder and bowel control and enhance their sexual performance. There have been studies that indicate Kegels' ability to help men with erectile dysfunction. 

It is worthwhile to try out Kegel exercises if you: 

  • Have urinary or faecal incontinence
  • Dribble after urination
  • Experience pain during sex or after ejaculation
  • Suffer from nocturia, which entails having to get up repeatedly at night to empty your bladder

While pelvic muscles can weaken due to age, there are other factors that can contribute to their deterioration, such as an injury or surgery. Surgeries like the removal of the prostate (radical prostatectomy), as well as conditions like diabetes can affect the pelvic floor muscles.

What exactly do Kegel exercises entail? 

Before you start doing Kegel exercises, it is important to know the proper technique and to understand the muscles involved: 

1. Identify the correct muscles. According to the Continence Foundation of Australia, to identify your pelvic floor muscles, stop urination flow midway through or tighten the muscles that keep you from passing gas. These exercises use your pelvic floor muscles, which will help you to identify them. You can do the various exercises in any position, although it might be easier to try them lying down at first.

2. Practise your technique. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for three seconds, and then relax for three seconds. One technique that should only be tried after you have practised the exercises laying down requires standing naked in front of a mirror. Without the use of your hands, try to lift your testicles with the muscles of the pelvic floor. This might sound strange but the results will outweigh any inhibitions you might feel. As your pelvic floor muscles get stronger, you'll be able to do Kegel exercises while walking. 

3. Always keep your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. If you do this incorrectly, you could end up doing more harm than good. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath and focus on breathing freely during the exercises. 

4. Repeat three times daily. Set your goal for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day. 

What makes Kegel exercises so efficient is that they can be done almost anywhere without anyone else knowing. Unlike other exercises that require tricky positions, Kegels can be done while completing other tasks such as brushing your teeth and even sitting at your desk at work.

Go on and try it; you have nothing to lose. 

Image credit: iStock


Ask the Expert

Incontinence Expert

Dr Prenevin Govender completed his MBChB at the University of Cape Town in 2001. He obtained his Fellowship of the College of Urologists in 2009 and graduated with distinction for a Masters in Medicine from the University of Cape Town in 2010. His special interests include laparoscopic, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence surgery. He consults full-time at Life Kingsbury Hospital in Claremont.

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