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The Exercise That Can Enhance Your Sex Life

Believe it or not, there is one simple exercise that you can do anywhere, anytime, without needing any equipment, that may not only prevent you from using adult diapers in your old age but can also improve the quality of your sex life. You can do it while waiting in line in the bank, sitting in traffic, watching a movie or just lying still in bed. It is so unobtrusive that people around you won't even know you are doing it while you talk to them.

The exercise, called a "kegel", was named after gynecologist Arnold Kegel who, in the 1940's, noticed that many of his patients developed urine leakage problems after they gave birth. They also complained that their sex life suffered because of weak muscle tone. In their old age, some of these women experienced uterine or bladder prolapse, a condition wherein these organs slip out of place and down into the vagina. Dr. Kegel discovered that by strengthening the muscles that surround the private parts, one could prevent or minimize these conditions.

Identifying the muscles.
The muscles that are strengthened when you do a 'kegel' are called the "pelvic floor" muscles. The muscles run like a sling or hammock from the pubic bone (to find it put your fingers on your hip bones and slide downward and inward between your legs) to the tailbone (the pointed end of your spine) encircling the vagina and anus in females and stretching from the base of the penis to the anus in males. It's easy to identify where these muscles are. The next time you urinate, try stopping the flow of your urine. If you are successful, you have just contracted your pelvic floor muscles.

How to do a 'kegel'.
Kegel exercises consist simply of contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. Stopping the flow of urine is a good way to identify whether you are contracting the right muscles or not (you should not be contracting your buttocks or abdomen muscles). However, it is not a good way to routinely perform a kegel since practicing stop-start urination can lead to urinary tract infections.

Once you have isolated the movement of contracting and releasing your pelvic floor muscles without involving other muscles (a friend I was talking to about this article would raise and lower her eyebrows in time with her kegels), you can try contracting for five seconds and releasing for five. Do ten repetitions, three times a day. When you have mastered that, increase the holding time to ten seconds. You can also practice 'quick kegels' - rapidly contract and release doing fifty repetitions. Do your kegels while sitting, standing and lying down for a 'cross training' effect.

Prevent urinary incontinence.
There are several types of incontinence. "Urge incontinence" is when you have a constant urgent need to urinate and the urine leaks out before you can get to a bathroom. "Stress incontinence" occurs when you sneeze, cough or laugh and urine involuntarily leaks out. "Overflow incontinence" is characterized by a weak urine flow, a feeling of not completely emptying the bladder and dribbling urine throughout the day. There is also "mixed" or "combination" incontinence.

Strategies to deal with urinary incontinence include kegel exercises, bladder training (training the bladder to hold urine for longer periods), medication, adult diapers or pads and, in extreme cases, surgery. Kegels are most effective when the incontinence is due mostly to weak pelvic floor muscles (in women, childbirth is the most common reason).

Fitness experts like to say that kegels prevent female fitness dropouts because many women who experience urinary incontinence don't tell anyone about it (not even their doctor) and simply stop being physically active for fear of embarrassing situations when urine leaks out when they jump or exert effort.

Prevent uterine or bladder prolapse.
Kegels work best at preventing uterine or bladder prolapse since these organs slip out of their designated locations due to weakened pelvic floor muscles and overstretching of the ligaments that support them. Kegels are still helpful in the early stages of prolapse to minimize the damage. More severe cases usually require surgery.

"Orgasm" muscle.
The most exciting use of kegels is in enhancing sexual pleasure in both males and females. Kegels are actually a voluntary re-enactment of the reflex contracting and releasing of the pelvic floor muscles when a woman has an orgasm. So when the muscles are strong, the more powerful the intensity of the orgasm. Kegels can also be used during foreplay to increase blood flow to the pelvic floor area and, therefore, increase the rate of lubrication. Strong and tight vaginal muscles increase sexual pleasure for both partners due to the increased pressure around the penis during intercourse. Dr. Linda Newhart Lotz, one of the first sex therapists to formally study the connection between kegels and female orgasm, found that women who do kegels experience more frequent, intense orgasms and a heightened ability to predict and control their orgasms.

According to the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, strong pelvic floor muscles in males means stronger erections, longer staying power and greater control over premature ejaculations. Purposely relaxing the pelvic floor muscles during arousal can enhance an erection because it allows more blood to flow into the penis. Keeping the pelvic floor muscles tight after erection can help maintain it for a longer period. Kegels can also be used to prevent premature ejaculations if a man will partially withdraw his penis when he feels he is about to climax and perform several kegel repetitions until he has regained control.

When to expect results.
Just like any other type of muscular training exercise, be patient in expecting results. You will need to do about six to eight weeks of consistent kegel practice before you start reaping the rewards of your hard work. And, like other types of exercise, benefits are cumulative. The more skilled you become at the technique and the longer you regularly do the exercise, the more benefits you enjoy. Happy "kegeling"!

Note: The Association of Fitness Professionals of the Philippines will be holding it's Annual National Convention at the Richmonde Hotel, Ortigas Center on Saturday, November 27, 1999. Special guest is international aerobic presenter Richard Siebert. Local speakers will tackle Plyometric Training, Strength Training for Team Sports, Exercise Pregnancy Guidelines, and Aqua Aerobics. Call Ellen at 871-2420 or Lorna at 807-5820.

The Sports Medicine Association of the Philippines announces it's last Sports Medicine Module for the year. It will be held on November 27, 1999 at the University of Santo Tomas. CPE units are available. Call Bembem at 521-9123 or email sportsmedphil@yahoo.com.

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