Those Kegels Probably Aren’t Helping Your Erections
Kegel exercises are pelvic floor exercises that are sometimes recommended for men who want to combat erectile dysfunction (ED). But while these exercise have been shown to help with urinary continence and premature ejaculation, their benefits for ED are less impressive. They certainly won’t hurt, but cardio exercise, good eating habits, and the help of ED medications like Viagra are better approaches to treating ED.
Erectile dysfunction (ED), the inability to sustain an erection firm enough for sex affects up to 30 million American men.
Prescription medications that treat ED (like Viagra) have been around for many years now, and Viagra alone has been prescribed more than 20 million times in the US. In general, problems with erections can be traced to problems of blood flow, and that is the problem that drugs like Viagra address.
However, overall health and physical condition affect the quality of erections too, as does the condition of the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles that make up the pelvic floor. The pelvic floor muscles hold your internal organs in place, and like any other muscle system, they can become slack over time with lack of exercise. Women who have been through childbirth are advised to do what are known as Kegel exercises to get their pelvic floor back into shape. But did you know that men can benefit from doing Kegel exercises too?
What We Know About Benefits of Kegels for Men
Kegel exercises are named for Dr. Arnold Kegel, who made note of them as far back as 1948. WebMD has instructions for how to perform Kegel exercises. Over the decades, the importance of a strong pelvic floor has become increasingly recognized, as has the popularity of Kegel exercises. Strong pelvic muscles do more than keep your insides from falling out. They can also indirectly improve sexual health. As people get older and more out of shape, they may deal with problems like urinary leakage after coughing or sneezing. Kegel exercises can help. In addition to helping men with urinary control, Kegel exercises can be used to ease symptoms of prostate problems like prostatitis or benign prostatic hyperplasia.
Kegel Exercises and Urinary Incontinence
When done consistently over a period of time, Kegel exercises strengthen pelvic floor muscles and support the bladder better. Studies of Kegels in women found that those who regularly practiced Kegels were far more likely to be cured of urinary incontinence than women who did not. Many men live with incontinence issues too, a problem that often presents itself after the prostate gland is removed.
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who regularly did Kegel exercises over an eight week period had less than half the incontinence episodes as they had before doing the exercises. WebMD says that once you learn how to do Kegels, you should contract the PC muscles for a slow count of five, then release for a slow count of five. This should be repeated 10 times, and ideally you should do a set of 10 Kegels three times per day.
Kegel Exercises and Premature Ejaculation
Pelvic floor exercises can help men who experience premature ejaculation too. Ejaculation is defined as “premature” when it happens within one minute. A study was presented in 2014 that involved 40 men from ages 19 to 46 who had unsuccessfully tried a number of treatments for premature ejaculation, including behavioral therapy, antidepressants, and creams. The men were trained in pelvic floor exercises and biofeedback and practiced the exercises three times a week, for 20 minutes each session, over 12 weeks. During that time they also measured their time to orgasm.
Eighty-two percent of participants noted improvement, and only five participants noted no improvement. Average time to ejaculation went from 32 seconds to just over two minutes after six weeks. After 12 weeks, average time to ejaculation increased to almost 2.5 minutes. Men who continued performing the exercises and tracking results for six months all reported maintaining the longer times to ejaculation for the entire six months.
What About Kegels and Erectile Dysfunction?
The connection between Kegel exercises and erectile dysfunction is less clear. They certainly don’t hurt, nor will they cause any problems with any ED medications like Viagra that men may take. But experts are unsure whether Kegel exercises actually help with ED.
One study from 2005 looked at the effect of Kegel exercises on men who had experienced ED for more than six months. Six months of regular Kegel exercises, plus lifestyle changes like improved diet and increased physical exercise resulted in improved erections for around three-quarters of the men. How much of that change is attributable to Kegels and how much is attributable to better diet and exercise isn’t known. Nonetheless, many doctors treating men for ED recommend regular Kegel exercises, since they won’t do any harm and might help. Whether or not Kegels help with ED, having a stronger pelvic floor is beneficial in terms of urinary control and premature ejaculation.
Can Other Types of Exercises Help With ED?
Drugs like Viagra, Cialis, and Levitra can be life-changing for men with ED. But as effective as these drugs are, doctors still recommend important lifestyle changes for ideal erection health. Quitting smoking, consuming a balanced diet, and engaging in regular and sufficient physical exercise are all good for erection health. Erections aren’t going to be as good when circulation is hindered due to smoking, or because of high cholesterol. Regular aerobic exercise addresses these issues, and can help you lose excess weight and improve your self-confidence, all of which will positively affect your sex life.
Kegels can be great for overall pelvic floor health, but if you want to address erectile health specifically, you need to do the kinds of exercise that benefit your cardiovascular system, such as circuit training, cycling, swimming, or hiking.
Knowing how to do Kegel exercises is important, particularly if you have premature ejaculation or if you suffer from prostate problems or urinary incontinence. While regularly doing Kegels won’t hurt erection health, they probably won’t help that much with ED, unless you’re also engaged in an overall physical exercise program designed to improve cardio health.
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