We crunch our abs, curl our biceps, and do countless squats to obtain a perfectly rounded butt, so why do we neglect our vaginal muscles? As women, our vaginas are incredibly important and versatile. The vagina acts as the birth canal, an outflow track for menstrual blood, and an in-flow track for sperm. The vaginal muscles can weaken over time, however, due to age, childbirth, and even smoking, resulting in issues such as incontinence. By making an effort to keep the vagina strong over time, women can experience more comfort and confidence as they age.
Signs of Weakened Vaginal Muscles
The signs of weakening vaginal muscles may include:
- Leaking urine when coughing or sneezing, or difficulty emptying the bladder
- Passing gas unintentionally
- Posterior prolapse, a soft bulge of tissue in the vagina that may or may not protrude through the vaginal opening
- A constant sensation of pressure in the pelvic region
How to Strengthen Vaginal Muscles
The secret to stronger vaginal muscles lies in a simple exercise known as the Kegel.
Kegel exercises are clench-and-release movements that can strengthen the pelvic floor — a series of muscles and tissues that forms a sling at the bottom of the pelvis. The pelvic muscles are essential, as they hold our organs in place. Kegels are not difficult, but in order for them to be the most effective, they must be done using the proper technique. As an added bonus, regular Kegel exercises can help women to be more in touch with their bodies, helping them to isolate sensations during sex and enhance their sexual satisfaction.
The best way to learn how to isolate the pelvic muscles is to Kegel during urination. When you start to urinate, clench your muscle to stop the flow of urine, and hold for 10 seconds. This technique will help you to identify how it feels to properly engage the pelvic floor muscles. Once you can easily identify and contract your pelvic muscles, try to incorporate Kegel exercises into your daily routine, ideally doing 50 Kegel contractions that are held for 10 seconds each, every day. Since no equipment is needed, you can Kegel anywhere, at any time. Try to Kegel during stoplights, during TV commercial breaks, or while reading.
With routine Kegeling, most women see improvement in the strength of their pelvic floor muscles within six weeks. If you Kegel regularly but do not see the desired results, talk to your GYN. You may benefit from more intense, dedicated work with a pelvic physical therapist — a specialist who is trained to help women improve the strength of their pelvic floor muscles. If you still aren’t feeling the results you want, your GYN may want to test you for pelvic floor dysfunction, a disorder that occurs when pelvic floor muscles are weak or tight, or when there is an impairment of the sacroiliac joint, lower back, coccyx, or hip joints. The majority of women though, will feel improvement through the simple addition of Kegel exercises into a daily routine, and as a bonus, will finally feel productive during television commercial breaks.