You’ve probably heard the pelvic floor mentioned somewhere, whether in a yoga class, in preparation for childbirth, or in a Cosmo article on mind-blowing orgasms. You may have launched into a diligent regimen of Kegel exercises during your morning commute—wondering if anyone could tell—until your efforts fell by the wayside.
Just like going to the gym, a few reps every once in a while won’t do much to move the needle. It is sustained, consistent practice that yields results. A strong pelvic floor has been shown to:
- contribute to good posture
- assist with urinary continence (no more hopping to the loo with crossed legs)
- prevent pelvic organ prolapse
- ease childbirth and recover tone afterwards
- activate the parasympathetic nervous system, stimulating a relaxation response
- increase pleasure for both partners during sex
About those orgasms…toned pelvic floor muscles increase circulation in the pelvic region, improving sensitivity and lubrication. Its main muscle—the pubococcygeal (PC) muscle—contracts during orgasm, so the stronger the muscle, the stronger the sensation.
As if that weren’t motivation enough, in addition to the physical benefits, having a strong pelvic floor has energetic benefits as well. When combined with focused awareness, contracting the pelvic floor triggers the second chakra, which is associated with the sacrum, genitals, hips and lower back. Chi is directed upwards, helping to maintain vitality and raise consciousness. To learn more about the more subtle energetic aspects of the pelvic floor, see Moola Bandha: The Master Key by Swami Buddhananada and Healing Love through the Tao by Mantak Chia.
Ready to give it a go? To locate the muscles in question, stop (or imagine stopping) a flow of urine. Certain simple Pilates floor exercises, like pelvic tilts and the bridge, are a great way to increase awareness of the muscles.
Kegel exercises are the stand-by technique for strengthening, and have the advantage of being discreet enough to be done any place, any time. For a killer Kegel series, try doing 10 reps of the following three times per day:
- The Squeeze: lift your pelvic floor up and hold the contraction from 3-5 seconds at first, building up to 10 seconds over time, resting the muscles in between each contraction.
- The Elevator: lift and hold the pelvic floor in three to five stages (like an elevator stopping at different floors), and relax back down in three to five stages.
- The Butterfly: Flutter your pelvic floor rapidly from 20-200 times. (According to clinical sexologist and Taoist instructor Uta Demontis, this is the money move for stronger orgasms.)
Additional benefits can be obtained by using weights in your Kegel exercises, such as:
- Jade eggs
- Ben Wa beads
- Kegel barbells
The use of jade eggs to strengthen the pelvic floor dates from the queen and concubines of the Royal Palace in ancient China. The above Kegel set can be done with a jade egg, or for more exercises (and contraindications), see Uta Demontis’s The Jade Egg Practice e-book.
Eggs can be purchased in various sizes and stones, such as the original jade, rose quartz and obsidian. Some are pierced with a small hole, through which weight can be added on a string. For inspiration, check out vaginal kung-fu master Kim Anami, whose Instagram account shows her intrepidly
lifting coconuts, coffee tables and chandeliers and garden gnomes all over the world. Showing vaginas everywhere what they are truly capable of.
Ben Wa beads, as seen in Fifty Shades of Grey for Anastasia’s pleasure, are weighted balls also useful for pelvic toning. They are advertised to work just by inserting them and going about your day, but like any weight training, results are improved when the weight is lifted (by using the beads during Kegel exercises).
The most popular barbells, such as the Kegelcisor, come in stainless steel with two different sizes on each end for varying levels of grip. Recently some FitBit-type devices for the pelvic floor have hit the market (kGoal, Elvie). Some women report finding the objective feedback provided by such devices motivating. Others find hooking up their nether regions to Bluetooth a little disconcerting. To each her own!
Whatever your choice of exercise, be sure to keep breathing, relax other muscles such as the buttocks and the abdomen, and don’t overdo it. The best results are had by starting small and building up slowly. Like any new habit, it’s useful to do the exercises at the same time every day and/or pair them with another regular activity, such as brushing your teeth or during your commute. It may take 4-6 weeks to start to feel results, but keep at it until you’ve perfected your ping-pong-ball-shooting party trick!