Are Kegels Bad for You?

Call it an old wives tale, or a one-size-fits-all approach, telling women with pelvic floor issues to do Kegels is not the answer that truly best fits all. Yet oddly enough, Kegels have become the popular go-to exercise for so many!

Performing Kegels for any and all pelvic problems can make some symptoms worse. Not to mention, are you even doing them correctly?!

Kegels may not be the best to treat:

  1. Prolapse: You might be thinking, WHAT!? Think about if the muscles that help support the pelvic floor are stuck open because of a traumatic birth or other trauma to that area of the body.  If the muscles that help promote closure and support are stuck open then strengthening them could make the prolapse worse.  The first thing you would need to do is allow for some lengthening of those tissues, then strengthening.  
  2. Hypertonic pelvic floor (tense and tight): An overactive pelvic floor is dysfunctional because muscles cannot relax when they need to. This can lead to back and abdominal pain. Kegels would heighten pain in areas the pelvic floor should be supporting but is unable to.
  3. Urinary Incontinence: An evaluation by a pelvic floor specialist will be beneficial in knowing where your incontinence stems from: overly loose or tight pelvic floor muscles. If too loose, Kegels could be the first part of a home program to help control leaks, BUT they should not be the only thing. If too tight, the muscles may be hard to control. One should seek an evaluation to understand the cause of incontinence with biofeedback by a pelvic health specialist.
  4. Painful Intercourse: There can be many causes of painful intercourse.  Check our our recent blog about causes here:  https://thrivepelvichealth.com/uncategorized/why-does-sex-hurt/ Pain is our bodies way of telling us, it is not happy.
  5. Overactive pelvic floor: If the muscles are already over working they need to be taught how to let go a little bit to help bring balance to the area of the body.  The pelvic floor muscles, like any other muscle in our body, works best when it has a healthy balance between length and strength.

Kegels gained popularity as people learned about the pelvic floor’s need to be strong. But to achieve a strong pelvic floor you first must understand your pelvic floor’s unique needs. What we should preach is a healthy pelvic floor for all women. One that provides support, stability, ample blood circulation, sexual arousal, and control. 

Last, most women do not perform Kegels correctly. If after seeing a pelvic floor specialist, and it is determined that strengthening is what is best for you, make sure you don’t use your glutes or inner thighs to help.  In the clinic, we often see people trying too hard and that is when the glutes and other muscles try and help.  If that is you, try decreasing the intensity of effort a little bit so that you only feel the pelvic floor move.

Curious about the status of your pelvic floor?! Come see us! 

I help women and children live their life to the fullest, without worrying about pelvic floor pain, peeing while sneezing, or difficulty pooping. When not at the office, I like to play board games with my kids, binge-watch Netflix with hubby, and travel outside of the AZ heat.

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