Keep working on your abs, triceps, deltoids, and quads, but there’s one more muscle group men should be focusing on as well: pelvic floor muscles. If you want better erections, more lasting power in bed, and control over urinary incontinence, then be sure to add Kegel exercises to your routine.
Although Kegel exercises are usually associated with women, men have pelvic floor muscles too. Men who have undergone prostate surgery or who are experiencing bladder incontinence are sometimes told by their doctors to practice Kegel exercises, since this activity targets the muscles involved in controlling urine flow and movement of the penis. As a treatment recommendation for these issues, the exercises are ideal because there are no negative side effects, which is something you can’t say about medications to treat these problems.
Benefits of Kegel exercises for men
At the same time, Kegel exercises are an easy, effective, and convenient way for men to support and improve their prostate health and sexual well-being. One of the best advantages of Kegel exercises is that men can do them just about anytime, anywhere—while driving, standing in line at the bank, working at their desk, talking on the phone—and no one will even know they are doing an exercise that can provide better control of urinary flow, improve prostate health, and enhance sexual arousal and ejaculation control.
Numerous studies have shown that Kegel exercises for men can be beneficial for prostate, urinary, and sexual health. For example, the impact of Kegel exercises were explored in a study of 55 men (average age, 59 years) who had had erectile dysfunction for at least six months. Dr. Grace Dorey, a physiotherapist and specialist in continence at Taunton’s Somerset Nuffield Hospital and North Devon District Hospital, found that after practicing Kegel exercises daily for 3 to 6 months, 40 percent of the men regained normal erectile function, 35.5 percent said they had some improvement in erection rigidity, and 25.5 percent said they experienced no difference. (Dorey 2004)
A review of randomized controlled trials that explored the effect of Kegel exercises for men on urinary and fecal continence and sexual dysfunction found that strengthening the pelvic floor muscles significantly improved urinary continence and erectile function. The author noted that it would be “prudent for all men to exercise their pelvic floor muscles to maintain normal pelvic floor function.” (Dorey 2005)
In a subsequent study, two Ohio State University Medical School researchers reported that “Pelvic floor exercises have been shown to increase erectile responsiveness,” which is good news for the 30 to 40 percent of men who fail to respond positively to erectile dysfunction drugs. (Lowe 2009)
How do Kegel exercises increase sexual health?
To do Kegel exercises, you repetitively clench or tighten the pubococcygeus (PC) muscle, which is a muscle that stretches from the pubic bone to the tail bone. The PC muscle supports the pelvic organs and also forms the floor of the pelvic cavity, which is why it is sometimes referred to as the pelvic floor muscle. Whenever you try to prevent the flow of urine or the passing of gas, you clench your PC muscle. When you do Kegel exercises, this is the muscle you want to work.
You can become familiar with the feel of the PC muscle if you practice stopping and starting your urine stream a few times in mid-urination. When you do this, do not tighten your abdominal, buttock, or thigh muscles, just the PC muscle, and do not hold your breath. Contract the PC muscle and hold for five seconds, then relax. This equals one repetition. Do 20 to 40 repetitions twice a day to start, and work your way up to 60 reps twice a day. Kegel exercises can be done while sitting, standing, or lying down. If you do them lying down, choose a firm surface and tilt your pelvis upward.
Do I need to do Kegel exercises?
Kegel exercises for men are recommended for any man to practice regularly (preferably daily), because they not only help keep the PC muscle strengthened and toned, they also help reduce or eliminate prostate inflammation not related to cancer or bacterial infections, which can be significantly beneficial for men who are experiencing erectile dysfunction or premature ejaculation. When practiced regularly, Kegel exercises usually produce results in urinary symptoms in about three to six weeks and in improving erectile function within three months.
Kegel exercises for men are also recommended before undergoing radical prostatectomy so the muscles can be strengthened prior to surgery and thus facilitate recovery. Performing Kegel exercises after surgery is also an excellent way to rebuild muscle strength, but they should not be initiated without first speaking with your physician.
Who should not do Kegel exercises
If you have prostatitis (chronic prostatitis/chronic pelvic pain syndrome, or CP/CPPS), you should not do Kegel exercises. The process of repeatedly tightening your PC muscle creates tension in the muscular structure around your pelvic region, which is great for managing urinary symptoms associated with an enlarged prostate and for sexual health, but it definitely should be avoided by men who have prostatitis, who need to relax their pelvic floor muscles rather than clench them, which would make prostatitis worse.
About half of the men who have CP/CPPS experience pelvic floor spasm or pelvic muscle dysfunction that causes pain. Alternative therapies that can relax the PC muscle include trigger point therapy, myofascial trigger point therapy, and pelvic floor physiotherapy.
Dorey G. Pelvic Floor Exercises for Erectile Dysfunction. Longon: Whurr, 2004.
Dorey G. Restoring pelvic floor function in men: review of RCTs. Br J Nurs 2005 Oct 27-Nov 9; 14(19): 1014-18
Lowe G. Non-invasive management of primary phosphodiesterase type 5 inhibitor failure in patients with erectile dysfunction. Therapeutic Advances in Urology 2009 Dec; 1(5): 234-42