If you're one of those people who thinks Kegels are silly, think again. The exercises that flex your pelvic floor muscles have been all over the news lately, thanks to a Kickstarter campaign aiming to make the workout for your nether regions more effective.
So far users have pledged more than $200,000 to fund the kGoal Smart Kegel Trainer, a device that's inserted into the vagina and tracks all kinds of Kegels stats, including the number of repetitions, pressure applied, and squeeze duration. The data syncs wireless to an app on your smartphone and recommends "workouts" based on user history—because you can never have too many health trackers, right? (And, no, the device doesn't vibrate and is NOT meant for sexual stimulation. It's all about boosting your pelvic floor health, so get your mind out of the gutter!) Pre-sales of the device have sold out but ABC News reports that the kGoal Smart Kegel Trainer will cost $125 when in launches in December.
If you aren't familiar with Kegels by now, here's a quick primer: gynecologist Arnold Kegel first introduced them to the world in 1948 and they involve tightening and contracting the muscles that support your uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum. They should feel similar to stopping yourself from peeing. Seriously, that's actually the best way to find and engage the muscles around your vagina if you've got no clue where they are. (Here are more tips on how to do Kegels.)
Though you may not be interested in buying a wearable device to get better at Kegels, there are a few perks to strengthening your pelvic floor:
While the exercise itself won't turn you on, doing Kegels may actually lead to more intense sex. When you orgasm, a special area of your pelvic floor called the the pubococcygeus (PC) muscles contracts, leading to that big moment. If those muscles are stronger, it's possible you'll have a much tighter grip during sex and more blood will flow to the area, boosting the sensation you experience. A study in Obstetrics and Gynecology tested whether an 11-week pelvic fitness class was effective for women with pelvic floor disorders, namely urinary incontinence (UI), a loss of bladder control. The women who finished the class reported significant improvements in not just bladder symptoms, but also better sex, including more intense orgasms. The results even held after the one-year follow-up, showing Kegels pack some serious powers for your sex life.
RELATED: 12 Secrets to Better Orgasms
Urinary incontinence can hit anyone, but it's a lot more common in women than men. The National Association for Continence estimates that of the 25 million adults who experience chronic incontinence, 75-80% of them are women. And it only gets more common with age. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report shows more than 50% of Americans 65 and over struggle with incontinence. A common culprit? Weak muscles. If your pelvic floor isn't strong enough, even small movements like sneezing or laughing can cause accidents. It's called stress incontinence, where your muscles aren't able to stop urine from leaking out when pressure gets applied to the abdomen. The good news is that doing Kegels more often can help strengthen your pelvic floor, so bladder problems won't happen as often.
RELATED: 13 Causes of Incontinence
Easier pregnancy recovery
Another thing that can affect the muscles in your pelvic floor: pregnancy. First off, carrying a baby can put some serious pressure on these muscles. And unless you have a C-section, count on labor to stretch out the tissue around your bladder and weaken muscles needed to protect against UI later on. That's why so many doctors recommend practicing Kegels before and after pregnancy, so you can keep that area strong and toned even as you welcome a little one into the world. They definitely help, too. A trial of nearly 900 women published in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology found that pregnant women who performed Kegels over a 12-week period reported less weekly urinary incontinence than women who didn't do the exercises.
RELATED: 10 Ways to Keep Your Bladder Healthy
Even though there's no blanket recommendation on how many clenches you should do each day, our guide to your urinary tract has info on the number of repetitions you should try to start, plus how to do them correctly. Happy squeezing!