Many of you may have heard from your doctor that doing Kegels is a good thing. It's certainly good for keeping your pelvic floor strong, to prevent problems like uterine prolapse following birth. It's also very good for keeping your bladder good and functional later in life. So do your Kegels, ladies.
However, Sci has always heard through the grapevine that Kegels were also good for...other things.
Well, are they?
Lowenstein et al. "Can stronger pelvic muscle floor improve sexual function?" International Urogynecology Journal Including Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, 2010.
(BEST MASHUP EVER. I always knew Raphael was a Samantha.)
So anyway, I'm sure you've all heard that doing your Kegel exercises is supposed to keep one supple and taut in the nether regions.
(Notes for those who do not know what Kegel exercises are: Kegel exercises are meant to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor. These:
Many people believe that you should use an exerciser for this, usually a small barbell or ball that you have to hold up inside the vagina. You can also use a small spring. Basically, to do a Kegel, contract the muscles you would contract to stop your self from peeing (sometimes you have to actually go and pee, and then try to stop yourself from peeing, to get which muscles I mean). Hold it for three...two...one...relax. Do it ten times. Repeat, this time seeing if you can hold it for up to 10 seconds at a time. Those are Kegel exercises. Men can do them, too.)
So anyway, Kegel exercises are good for bladder dysfunction and other pelvic floor disorders. They are also thought to be good for keeping that region tighter than it might be otherwise. But what about...orgasm? Does having strong pelvic floor muscles give you better orgasms? And if so, can doing Kegels lead to better orgasm?
To figure this out, the authors of the study took a bunch of women, and checked the sexual function of women with strong pelvic floor muscles vs those with weak pelvic floor muscles. They assessed the strength of the pelvic floor by putting a finger in the vagina during the general exam, and asking the women to do a Kegel. They then ranked them by strength. Sci thinks this is more than a bit subject, and I'm entirely sure you could rig a small spring up to a meter for an accurate numerical reading for further studies (get on it, people).
First of all, it should be noted that the women who had stronger pelvic floor muscles had lower rates of incontinence, as well as lower rates of vaginal atrophy, which is to be expected when you have a good, strong pelvic floor.
They then took measures of the women's sexual prowess, using the Female Sexual Function Index (FSFI). They put their results in a table (dang human researchers put EVERYTHING in tables), but Sci will fix for you. Graph because I love, and all that.
It doesn't look like much, does it?
Nevertheless, apparently in OVERALL FSFI score, the women with the strong pelvic muscle scored significantly higher on measures of arousal and orgasm than those with weak pelvic floor muscles. Personally, if that's the finding, I want to see the numbers for that. They also say they found a significant correlation between the strength of pelvic floor contraction and the orgasmic domain score. I have to wonder why that wasn't in the tables, but oh well.
So the study concludes that a stronger pelvic floor can in fact increase sexual function, in terms of the orgasmic domain score, though apparently that didn't come out in the data wash. Sci has some theories as to why:
1) They divided the groups in the middle, with moderate and high pelvic strength, and moderate to low on the other side. Sci would take out that middle group and analyze it separately to look at the correlations, or even just compare high and low, rather than putting them all in a bell curve and slicing it down the middle.
2) The pelvic floor strength is only rated on a score of 0-2 by sensory perception of the finger of the physician. VERY subjective. Sci would want to automate that process to get some better numbers.
However, what Sci would REALLY like to see would be a study on women who did their Kegel exercises or who didn't, and whether the Kegel exercises increased strength significantly, and whether they ALSO resulted in better orgasm.
Still, if Kegel exercises are good for your pelvic floor, good for incontinence, and generally good all round, why wait on the data? Get Kegeling!
Lowenstein, L., Gruenwald, I., Gartman, I., & Vardi, Y. (2010). Can stronger pelvic muscle floor improve sexual function? International Urogynecology Journal DOI: 10.1007/s00192-009-1077-5