Kegel exercises for men (also called pelvic floor exercises) are an attempt to help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder. These muscles also play a role in a man’s sexual function.
Some doctors recommend starting these exercises before surgery for prostate cancer. This is because they may be easier to learn than after surgery, particularly if incontinence becomes a problem.
First find the right muscles
There are several different approaches with Kegel exercises for men. The easiest way may be for a man to sit on the toilet and try to stop and start the flow of urine several times while he’s urinating.
If he can do this, he’ll know he’s contracting the right muscles.
Another way to find the right muscles is for a man to contract his buttocks and rectum, as if he were trying to prevent the passage of gas (farting).
Tip: A man is contracting correctly if he feels the base of his penis moving up slightly towards his stomach.
The “squeeze and lift” exercise
With this Kegel exercise, the man:
- Contracts and lifts the muscles for up to 5 seconds
- Releases the contraction
He should breathe regularly while doing this exercise and rest for about 10 seconds between each contraction.
It’s important that he only uses the pelvic floor muscles during this exercise and does not tense up his legs, buttocks or belly.
Once a man can comfortably hold the contraction for 5 seconds, he should try to lengthen the time to 10 seconds.
A man should generally do about 10 contractions for each session. He can do these Kegel exercises while:
- Lying in bed
- Sitting in a chair
- Urinating on the toilet (to stop and start the flow of urine)
Note: The National Association for Continence cautions that doing Kegel exercises too often while urinating often leads to infections. The Continence Foundation suggests doing this exercise while urinating once a week to check his progress.
The short contraction
After the “squeeze and lift” exercise (unless the doctor tells your loved to do the short contraction first), your man can do up to 10 strong contractions, but very quickly. He should:
- Squeeze and lift
- Let go right away
- Repeat steps 1 and 2
Establish a routine
It’s important to do these exercises every day for as long as your man’s doctor tells him to.
Tip: The quality of the exercise is more important than the quantity. In fact, doing this exercise too frequently may cause more urine leakage.
One way for your loved one to remember to do these exercises every day is to pick an activity that will become his “Kegel time,” such as while:
- Brushing his teeth in the morning and at night
- Making breakfast in the morning and having dinner at night
- Driving to and from work
- Getting up in the morning and before going to bed at night
Results may vary
Every man is different and some men may need to do Kegel exercises more often each day to get desired results.
Generally, a man does repetitions for both exercises for two to three sessions a day.
Tip: It may take up to 6 weeks to notice any change and several months to get desired results. Try to be patient.
When Kegel exercises for men are challenging
For men who have difficulty, biofeedback training and electric stimulation of the pelvic floor muscles are two methods that may help.
- Electrodes may be placed on the abdomen and along the anal area
- A sensor or probe may be inserted into the anus to monitor contraction of the pelvic floor muscles
- The therapist views a monitor to help determine if the correct muscles are being contracted
With electrical stimulation:
- The therapist administers a painless low-voltage current
- This creates the sensation of what a correct Kegel exercise should feel like
Kegel exercises for men references:
National Association for Continence. Pelvic floor muscles. http://nafc.org/uploads///pdf/PME_forWeb.pdf. Accessed December 17, 2008.
The Continence Foundation. Pelvic floor exercises for men. http://www.continence-foundation.org.uk/publications/pdfs/Men%20PFE%2014.PDF. Accessed December 17, 2008.