When you get to be a woman of a “certain age,” you may start to notice that things don’t seem to work quite right downstairs. You might notice that you need to run to the bathroom more often because your bladder isn’t quite as effective at holding things in anymore. Or you might discover that your “wind” just sneaks out no matter how hard you try to hold it in. Don’t worry, you’re not alone in these things! Many women, including myself, experience these issues as we age. And most of us have probably heard that Kegels are the solution to our
Kegel exercises involve the repeated contracting and relaxing of the pelvic floor muscles. Doctors sometimes recommend Kegel exercises for women who want to improve their sexual function as well as their bladder and bowel function. The pelvic floor muscles support the rectum, uterus, small intestine and bladder. Just as with any other muscle in your body, your pelvic floor muscles need to be exercised regularly in order to maintain their tone and strength. That’s where Kegel exercises come in. But before you start a daily Kegel regimen, you should know that the pelvic floor exercises may have some unintended side effects as well.
One of the reasons ladies do Kegel exercises is to help improve the quality of our intimate moments, right? But what if I told you that overdoing your Kegel exercises can actually cause sexual intercourse to be more painful? I know, I know, it sounds counterintuitive. But the reason excessive Kegels can make intercourse painful is because they can cause your vaginal muscles to get too tight. So if you want to find the right balance, try doing just 10 Kegel exercises at a time, two to three times per day.
Bladder Pain and Leaking
Wait, aren’t Kegel exercises supposed to prevent bladder leaking? I can almost hear you asking me that. And yes, when they aren’t done excessively, Kegels can help you hold your urine in where it belongs. However, too many Kegels can cause your pelvic floor muscles to become too short. When this happens, it can lead to consistent bladder pain and may cause you to leak urine. You may also have difficulty letting all of your urine out when it’s actually time to go.
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Too many Kegel sessions can lead to soreness in the tailbone and lower back areas. It can also lead to constipation because the muscles lining your pelvic floor are just too tight and short to function properly.
OK, ladies. Think about the last time you had a Charlie horse in your foot, thigh or anywhere else. Now imagine experiencing that kind of pain in your lady bits. Are you done cringing yet? You should know that excessively tightening the pelvic floor muscles can lead to Charlie horses in places where Charlie horses should never occur.
How You Can Avoid These Unpleasant Side Effects
Now that I’ve probably scared you out of ever wanting to do another Kegel exercise in your lifetime, I want you to know that’s not my intention. While too many Kegels can lead to any of these unpleasant side effects, it is quite possible to do Kegels safely. The key is to go easy on those muscles and don’t try to do 200 or more contractions in a single setting. Instead, do a few contractions here or there throughout your day.
Think of strengthening your pelvic floors as you would strengthen any other area of your body. Do it in small sets, with rest days off. If you perform your pelvic floor exercises wisely and with moderation, you’ll be able to develop a functional, strong pelvic floor without the pain or discomfort that comes with any type of muscle overuse.