Kegel exercises: Do they really work?

‘Do your Kegel exercises … Strengthen your pelvic floor …’

If you’ve given birth, chances are you’ve been told this at least once, and even if you haven’t given birth, you’ve probably read about Kegels in some women’s magazine touting their importance.

Who wants to wet their pants every time they sneeze, right?

The problem is, if you’re doing Kegel exercises as they’re currently taught, then you’re either wasting your time or harming your lady parts.

So before you go squeezing your vagina 300 times morning and night, please read this blog to the end, as there are a few things you need to know about Kegels and the female body.

Let’s begin with…

A little history lesson on Kegel exercises…

Back in 1947, OBGYN Dr Arnold Kegel designed a series of exercises to strengthen women’s pelvic floors, in a bid to prevent urinary incontinence.

And to his credit, his exercises worked, eliminating incontinence in 93% of his patients.

Awesome, right?

Yet the Kegel exercises he created back then are not the same Kegels women are being taught today.

You see, his exercises involved inserting a device inside the vagina called a Kegel perineometer.

Once inside, the woman would contract and isolate different areas of the pelvic floor muscles and vaginal canal.

Dr. Kegel also determined that a successful program of Kegel exercises needed to include four very important elements:

  • Muscle education
  • Feedback
  • Resistance
  • And progressive intensity

Without anyone of these, then Kegel exercises simply wouldn’t work.

So let’s look at this in a little more detail…

Muscle education.

In most modern teaching of Kegel exercises, women are not getting the muscle education required to correctly do Kegels in a way that gets results.

In fact, the pelvic floor is one area of the body that is deeply misunderstood.

You see, modern-day Kegel exercises work on one very specific muscle – the PC muscle – and do not take into consideration the full pelvic parfait; a complex layered area of muscles, tissues, facia and organs.

When single dimension strengthening practices like this are used ongoing, they begin to draw the sacrum and tailbone forward into the bowl of the pelvis, reducing the skeletal distance between the coccyx and pubic bones.

Why is this a problem?

Because when this happens, the muscles of the pelvis only have one place to go, and that’s down.

This is what we call prolapse.

If we look at the stats, prolapse effects nearly one in two women; some women quite literally seeing their internal organs fall right on out through their vagina!

Ouch!

Hence to say, strengthening the PC muscle alone, is not the answer.

But neither is doing a hundred reps, because…

Tighter does NOT equal stronger.

Kegels focus primarily on the squeeze and not so much on the release, so what happens for many women is they build up a lot of pelvic tension.

Essentially, through doing their Kegel reps they are tightening their pelvic floor as opposed to strengthening it.

Tension in the pelvic floor is one of the biggest causes of incontinence, pain, atrophy, inability to orgasm, and the list goes on and on and on, not to mention how it creates a breeding ground for disease.

How is this possible?

When we hold tension in a part of our body, energy cannot flow through that area, and if you’re familiar with Traditional Chinese Medicine you’ll know that stagnant energy in the body is the cause of illness and disease.

We need to keep that energy flowing, and the way to do this is to release tension in the body.

Supple tone is what you’re really after.

And this is where Dr Kegel’s requirement of ‘resistance’ is so important.

If you’re squeezing your vagina countless times a day, where is the resistance?

There isn’t any, because modern Kegel exercises don’t use the all-important internal device, meaning you miss out on both resistance and the feedback.

Imagine going to the gym and doing bicep curls.

In order to build strength you need to lift weight, right?

If there’s no weight, there’s no resistance, and as a result, no muscle tone, yeah?

Well, that’s essentially what’s happened to Kegels.

Women are now being told to do the vaginal bicep curl, without the device that creates the resistance needed for tone to actually develop.

As you can see, what is currently referred to as ‘Kegel exercises’ bears little resemblance to what Dr Kegel created back in the 40s.

Hence why Yale University School of Medicine found that up to 60% of women are still experiencing incontinence, despite the common practise of Kegels.

Kegels, as they are currently being taught, do not work.

In fact, the way they are currently being taught, puts the body under strain patterns that pull tissues and organs against the grain, so to speak.

Now Dr Kegel wasn’t the only one who discovered that you needed resistance to heal incontinence.

The Ancient Taoists were using a Jade Egg inside their vagina some 5000 years ago to tone their vaginas and help maintain their reproductive health.

And in my experience, this is one of the the most effective ways of curing incontinence, hence why I created Yoga for the Vagina; A comprehensive practice that takes the whole female body into account, and teaches you how to use your muscles in such a way that you are creating healthy supple tone in the pelvic area.

The type of tone that will keep your sexual organs ripe and resilient well into your twilight years, and will make birthing a whole lot easier.

Dr. Kegel himself said that casual Kegel exercises – while waiting at lights or in a cue at the bank – was not adequate, stressing the importance of the need for pelvic floor muscle training that included an intra-vaginal device to ensure they were being done properly.

Yoga for the Vagina fulfils this criteria.

You’re educated on the make-up of your lady parts, so you’re getting that all-important ‘muscle education’.

You’re using a Jade Egg so you get direct ‘feedback’ and you’re able to build tone and dexterity though the use of ‘resistance’.

And you’re engaging in purposeful muscle training that is healing to the body.

If you want a healthy pelvic floor, you need to invest time in your pelvic floor.

You can’t just do a few unconscious squeezes here and there and hope to cure your body of its ailments.

You also need to ensure that you fully understand the practice you’re doing, so that you are not doing yourself harm.

If a woman happens to have a tight pelvic floor already, contracting the muscles regularly will actually aggravate the tension issue.

And any lady who only focuses on the contraction – as opposed to the release – runs the risk of creating scar tissue.

Speaking of which, one of the biggest causes of tension, and thus scar tissue, is taking these kinds of practices to the extreme.

Have you heard of vaginal weight-lifting?

This is where women attach weight to their Jade Egg and do reps, much like you would at the gym.

What’s important to understand here, is that yes we want resistance, but we don’t want too much resistance.

Too much resistance creates tightness in the pelvic floor, thus compromising the functioning of our pelvic organs.

When we over tone our lady parts in this way, it can cause restriction of the vital nerves and blood vessels, which can lead to the development of scarring.

Scarring leads to numbness, which inhibits orgasm.

When you use the Jade Egg, the muscles have to work to hold onto the egg – the egg creates the resistance needed to tone the area while keeping it supple.

You don’t need extra weight on top of the egg.

But you do need to use the egg in a very specific way so that you are using the correct muscles required for optimal health.

My advice?

STOP doing Kegels immediately.

More isn’t better.

It’s dangerous!

Learn the true mechanics of your precious lady parts through Yoga for the Vagina so you can exercise your pelvic floor in a way that unpack any existing tension, so that your pelvic floor can serve you well in all your womanly adventures, from pregnancy, child birth and travelling through menopause into your wiser years.

To get your FREE Yoga for the Vagina Starter’s Sequence, simply click here.

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2 Comments on “Kegel exercises: Do they really work?”

  1. Hi Tamara,
    What practice do you recommend for pregnant women who do not have a prior history of using a jade egg? My understanding is that using a jade egg while pregnant IF you haven’t previously developed a practice is not recommended?
    All the best!
    Nicole

    1. Yes, it’s true, you wouldn’t want to start using the Jade Egg while pregnant. The main reason for this, is because you don’t want to change the shape and structure of the pelvic floor while pregnant. The Jade Egg works directly on changing the pelvic floor, helping it to become more healthy and supple, which outside of pregnancy is super beneficial. But of course, during pregnancy, you don’t want to interrupt the important baby-making process, as your body is busy doing other important work 🙂

      So in answer to your question, you can still use Yoga for the Vagina during your pregnancy, only you would do the squeezes and releases as taught in the online course, minus the Jade Egg. The way I teach the squeeze and release is significantly different to the way Kegels are taught, to ensure there is no tension being built in the pelvic area, because you want to remain toned, yes, but soft and supple at the same time, in order to help support a natural birth.

      I will actually be releasing a special Pregnancy Guide on how to use the program for pregnant ladies in the next few months (I am currently pregnant, so just putting the finishing touches on it) and it will be for both women who haven’t used a Jade Egg before and for women who have had a regular practice. But in the meantime, simply working through the Layer 1 sequences of the course without the Jade Egg inside would be perfectly safe if you keep listening to your body. (The Layer 2 sequences have poses that would need to be adapted for pregnancy beyond 4 months, which will be explained in the Pregnancy Guide).

      I should also mention, that while I had been using the Jade Egg for many years, when I got pregnant, my body didn’t actually want the Jade Egg anymore. So I myself have been doing the practices with the Jade Egg inside. Out body is highly intelligent and if we listen to it, it will tell us what it wants and what it doesn’t want at various times in our life.

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