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Kegel Muscles Are Really the Pelvic Floor Muscles

The PC and pelvic floor are sometimes referred to as Kegel muscles.  The doctor’s name does not appear on official diagrams of the human body.  It is the exercises used to strengthen the pelvic floor that bear his name.

Arnold H. Kegel was an American gynecologist born in 1894.  He first published his ideas about treating urinary stress incontinence and female genital prolapse in 1948.  He maintained that exercising the pelvic floor muscle group was beneficial for childbirth and female sexual function.

Numerous randomized trials have proven the exercises are truly beneficial, assuming they are performed correctly.  Not only are the exercises beneficial for bladder control and sexual function, they are also helpful for relieving painful bladder syndrome and fecal incontinence.

Stress incontinence is when urine leaks as a result of laughing, coughing or physical activity.  It is most common in women after pregnancy, childbirth and around the time of menopause. 

As a woman ages and her ovaries begin to shut down, estrogen levels decrease.  Estrogen plays a role in supporting the structures of the skin, blood vessels and vaginal walls. 
Muscle mass and strength naturally lessens in both sexes as a part of the aging process.  Research has shown that exercise is beneficial for maintaining muscle mass.

Exercising the pelvic muscles correctly can be difficult without proper instruction.  Since they are located inside of the body, it is not possible to see them flex or locate them visually.

In evaluations of why the exercise program failed, doctors found that women were flexing their hips or their abdominals, rather than the PC.  In recent years, specialized cone-shaped exercisers have been developed to help women identify, isolate and contract the correct muscle group such as vagacare vaginal weights.

Female genital prolapse is more serious than stress incontinence.  It occurs when a portion of the vaginal canal protrudes outside the opening of the vagina.  It is usually caused by a collapse of the pelvic muscles, often as a result of childbirth. 

The stronger the muscle group is prior to childbirth, the less likely prolapse will occur according to Dr Kegel’s ideas.  Most gynecologists agree, although the general health of the patient plays a role as well. 

Being overweight or obese increases the pressure placed on the hammock-shaped pelvic floor muscles.  Gaining too much weight during pregnancy increases the risk of prolapse.

Sexual function primarily relates to the ability to achieve orgasm.  The muscle contractions performed during Kegel exercises are the same as those occurring spontaneously during strong orgasms.  Many women find their orgasms are stronger and more satisfying after doing Kegels.

Officially, there are no Kegel muscles.  But women who have benefited from the exercises might vote to have the name changed.

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