As we come to the end of Masturbation Month, we’re ready to launch June’s giveaway, with the perfect combination to get you into a juicy frame of mind and body. The Kegel Fix by renowned urologist Dr. Andrew Siegel along with a set of luxurious silicone Adam & Eve’s Scarlet Glass Duo Balls (ben wa balls) will give you the hands-on tools you need to sexercise your way to more sexual satisfaction. Enter to win now!
After reading this book on sexual health and pleasure, I reached out to interview the author and sexpert on all things related to kegels and PC muscles. It’s my delight to share it with Sexpert readers.
INTERVIEW WITH DR. ANDREW SIEGEL:
Dr. Ava Cadell: What inspired you to write this book?
Dr. Andrew Siegel: I wrote The Kegel Fix because of discontent with the existing means of educating women with respect to pelvic floor exercises. Often unable to identify their pelvic muscles or properly perform the exercises, outcomes are less than favorable and the frustration level and high abandonment rate is hardly surprising. Because pelvic exercises remain an under-exploited resource that can be of great benefit to many women, I was inspired to write an easy-to-read, yet comprehensive book on the topic.
My goal is to educate women about the consequences of weakened pelvic muscles– urinary and bowel control problems, dropped pelvic organs and sexual dysfunction–taboo issues that many women are not typically knowledgeable about and are often reluctant to bring up to their doctors. I aim to demystify the pelvic muscles—out of sight, out of mind, and often misunderstood—and make pelvic floor muscle exercises less intimidating and more accessible.
Why is it important for women and men to exercise their pelvic muscles?
These muscles provide support for the pelvic organs, contribute to the control mechanism of the urinary and intestinal systems and play a vital role in sexual function. Pelvic exercises can be effective in stabilizing, relieving, improving and even preventing issues with pelvic support, sexual function, and urinary and bowel control.
Pelvic training can benefit females with weakened pelvic support (descent and sagging of the pelvic organs including the bladder, urethra, uterus, rectum and vagina itself); vaginal laxity (looseness); altered sexual and orgasmic function; stress urinary incontinence (urinary leakage with coughing and exertion); overactive bladder (the sudden urge to urinate with leakage often occurring before being able to get to the bathroom); pelvic pain due to pelvic muscle spasm; and bowel urgency and incontinence. Additionally, pelvic training improves core strength, lumbar stability and spinal alignment, aids in preventing back pain and helps prepare one for pregnancy, labor and delivery.
Pelvic muscle training in males is no less important than in females, beneficial for urinary incontinence following prostate surgery, overactive bladder, post-void dribbling, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and pelvic pain due to pelvic muscle spasm. For more information on this topic, refer to Male Pelvic Fitness: Optimizing Sexual and Urinary Health (www.MalePelvicFitness.com).
The bottom line is that achieving a fit pelvic floor by strengthening and toning the pelvic muscles is a first-line approach that can improve a variety of pelvic maladies in a way that is natural, accessible and free from harmful side effects.
How can we incorporate some beginner exercises into our daily routines?
Beginner exercises involve pelvic floor contractions without using resistance.. Initially, it is important to isolate the pelvic muscles and exercise them while not actively contracting any other muscle groups. Once pelvic proficiency is achieved, pelvic exercises can then be integrated into other exercise routines, workouts and daily activities. In real life, muscles do not work in isolation, but rather as part of a team and the pelvic muscles are no exception, often contracting in conjunction with the other core muscles in a mutually supportive way. Many Pilates and yoga exercises involve consciously contracting the pelvic muscles together with other core muscles during exercise routines. When walking, standing up, climbing steps, doing squats and lunges, jumping, jogging, dancing and cycling, the pelvic muscles can be gently contracted to engage them in the supportive role for which they were designed.
At what age should men and women start exercising their pelvic floor muscles?
As in any exercise regimen, the best option is to be proactive and not reactive. It is sensible to optimize muscle mass, strength and endurance to prevent problems from surfacing before they have an opportunity to do so. Pelvic muscle training undertaken before getting pregnant will aid in preventing pelvic issues that may arise as a consequence of pregnancy, labor and delivery. Strengthening one’s pelvic muscles at a young age can help avoid pelvic, urinary and bowel conditions that may arise with time. Strengthen and tone now and your body will thank you later, so my recommendation for both women and men is to start early, before issues have a chance to develop.
Can you explain the difference between conscious relaxation exercises versus strengthening exercises?
A full range of motion pelvic contraction takes the pelvic muscles from maximal relaxation to maximal contraction. The relaxation element is as critical as the contraction element. As vital as “tone and tighten” are, “stretch and lengthen” are of equal importance. The goal is for pelvic muscles that are strong, toned, supple and flexible. Conscious relaxation is a vital part of the management of pelvic floor tension myalgia, a condition in which the pelvic muscles exist in a state of excessive contraction that causes pelvic pain and other urinary, bowel and sexual issues. So, conscious relaxation—a.k.a. reverse Kegels—aims to relax and lengthen the pelvic muscles as opposed to strengthening exercises, done in an effort to increase the strength, power and endurance of the pelvic muscles.
What are some of the health issues that result from weak pelvic floor muscles?
In females: pelvic relaxation (dropped bladder, uterus, rectum, etc.) and vaginal laxity (looseness); sexual and orgasmic issues; stress urinary incontinence (leakage with coughing, sneezing, exercise, etc.); overactive bladder and bowel; poor core strength, posture, lumbar stability and alignment.
In males: urinary incontinence, overactive bladder, post-void dribbling, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and other forms of ejaculatory dysfunction.
How would you recommend women incorporate ben wa balls into their pelvic floor exercise routine?
There are numerous variations of vaginal weighted balls, available in a myriad of different sizes and weights. They are placed in the vagina and require pelvic engagement in order that they remain in position. They also provide resistance to contract down upon, very different than contracting the pelvic muscles against air. Some are attached to a string, allowing one to tug on the balls to add even more resistance. Another variety has an elastic covering that can be squeezed down upon and compressed with pelvic muscle contractions, a form of resistance workout that accelerates pelvic conditioning.
My recommendation is to pursue the specific pelvic training program that is designed and tailored to the specific pelvic dysfunction (e.g., for sexual issues, stress incontinence, prolapse, etc.) as detailed in my book while using ben wa balls or alternative vaginal devices to add resistance to the workouts.
How can couples exercise their pelvic muscles together to enhance sexual satisfaction?
One option is for couples to do the exercises individually but together, like people in a fitness class at the gym. Alternatively, pelvic exercises can be integrated into the act of sexual intercourse. When the female actively contracts her pelvic muscles, the vaginal grip around the penis will tighten, in addition to more blood being forced into the clitoris, increasing clitoral engorgement and erection. When the male actively contracts his pelvic muscles, penile blood flow will be augmented, increasing penile length, girth and rigidity. At the time of sexual climax, both male and female can focus on the involuntary rhythmic contractions of their pelvic muscles and try to heighten the experience by explosively voluntarily contracting them in synchrony with the involuntary contractions.
Is there anything else that people can learn from your book that is life and health changing?
Because many of those who are taught pelvic exercises do not really understand how to put their pelvic knowhow and conditioning to real life use, my ultimate goal is to teach functional pelvic fitness—practical and actionable means of applying pelvic exercise proficiency to daily tasks and common everyday activities to improve quality of life. I call this “Kegels-on-demand.”
Can you incorporate pelvic floor exercises with masturbation?
During masturbation, with every stroke applied to the penis or clitoris, there is a reflex contraction of the pelvic muscles (a.k.a. bulbocavernosus reflex). With each contraction of the pelvic muscles, the internal parts of the penis and clitoris (roots) are compressed, pushing blood back into the external parts, increasing penile and clitoral blood pressure, engorgement and rigidity. This happens reflexively and without effort. It can be enhanced by consciously contracting the pelvic floor muscles, not only during the act of masturbation, but also at the time of climax, when the pelvic muscles contract involuntarily in a rhythmic fashion and provide the muscle power behind the physical aspect of an orgasm.