This blog was updated on 30/08/2023
You’ve no doubt heard about the myriad advantages of Kegels for women, but it’s less common to hear of men performing pelvic floor exercises. In fact, it’s likely that some men aren’t even aware of the importance of a strong, sturdy pelvic floor. But we’re here to change that.
Like any set of muscles in a man’s body, the pelvic floor performs an essential role (primarily supporting the bladder and bowel) and so it needs to be kept healthy and hardy to ensure it continues to function properly — otherwise, it can lead to all sorts of bathroom (and bedroom)-related issues.
If you’re a man concerned about pelvic floor dysfunction, or you’re simply seeking a little information on how to strengthen the male pelvic floor muscles, you’re in the right place: in this blog, we’ll explore what your pelvic floor actually is, why it’s so important to keep it strong, and offer some tips for effective pelvic floor training techniques.
Wait. Do men have pelvic floors?
Believe it or not, men have pelvic floors too, and it’s just as important for men to keep theirs strong and healthy as it is for women. Sure, men don’t go through pregnancy or childbirth — which can significantly weaken the pelvic floor muscles — but they can still develop pelvic floor weakness through factors such as being overweight or suffering pelvic trauma.
The male pelvic floor muscles play an essential role in supporting the bladder and bowel, while they can also affect sexual function. As a result, pelvic floor weakness in men can lead to issues such as urinary or faecal incontinence and erectile dysfunction (ED).
What is the male pelvic floor?
In men, the pelvic floor is essentially an elaborate network of muscles surrounding the base of the penis, supporting both the bowel and the bladder. Often referred to as your 'core’, these muscles are located in your pelvis and stretch from the pubic bone at the front to the tail-bone at the back.
Your pelvic floor muscles work with your deep abdominal (stomach), deep back muscles and diaphragm to stabilise and support your spine. They also help control the pressure inside your abdomen when you exercise — all that lifting and straining you’re doing in the gym is supported by your pelvic floor.
Male vs female pelvic floors: what’s the difference?
Men and women are different in many ways (understatement of the century), but structurally, there’s not actually a huge difference between the pelvic floor of a man and a woman. The distinctions lie in how they’re used.
The key difference is that a man’s pelvic floor muscles support his bladder and bowel. The urethra (urine tube) and the anus (back passage) all pass through the pelvic floor muscles. In comparison, a woman’s pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, bowel, and uterus (womb). The urethra, anus, and vagina all pass through the pelvic floor muscles.
Why are strong pelvic floor muscles important for men?
OK, the “sciencey” part is over. Now let’s figure out why it’s worth worrying about this muscle near your groin. It’s well documented that a woman’s pelvic floor can prevent urinary incontinence and even give her better orgasms when it’s sufficiently strong, but what can men expect from regularly exercising their pelvic floor? Well, let’s explore some of the potential benefits.
Do Kegel exercises help you maintain an erection?
Performing regular Kegel workouts to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles can prevent erectile dysfunction (or ED for short, a condition that around 1 in 3 men will experience at some point in their lives) and help a man to maintain an erection firm enough (and for long enough) to engage in sexual activity. In fact, pelvic floor exercises are often recommended as the first-line treatment for ED.
How? Well, going back to the science momentarily, there are two muscles in the pelvic area — the ischiocavernosus and bulbocavernosus — that sit either side of the penis and are ‘active’ when a man has an erection. Keeping these muscles strong will help a man to achieve and maintain an erection for longer; a good indicator of a strong pelvic floor is if a man is able to ‘waggle’ his penis up and down when it’s erect.
Do Kegels help prevent premature ejaculation?
While Kegel exercises can help a man’s penis stay erect for longer, they can also help him last longer in bed by preventing premature ejaculation. Having a strong pelvic floor enables a man to control and vary the tension of his erection during sex (keep in mind the ‘waggling’ technique) which might allow him to delay ejaculation when he feels it coming.
The average man takes between 5 and 7 minutes to ejaculate during sex, but lots of men (as many as 40%, some estimate) find themselves climaxing too quickly after penetration. Along with methods such as the “stop and start” technique, squeezing the head of the penis before ejaculation, and using condoms to reduce sensation, Kegel exercises can be an effective way of preventing premature ejaculation.
Can Kegel exercises prevent urine leakage?
Kegels aren’t just useful in the bedroom; they can also be a highly effective way of reducing leaks and dribbles for a man who suffers from urinary incontinence. As many as 34% of older men may suffer from urine leakage, with symptoms including dribbling after urination, involuntarily leaking urine during physical exertion, and the inability to hold the urge for long enough to reach the bathroom.
By strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, men can improve overall bladder control, enabling them to hold on to urine when they need to go and reducing the likelihood of post-bathroom leaks — yup, you can thank your pelvic floor for keeping the urethra closed when you want it to. Additionally, Kegels may also help to prevent faecal incontinence (the inability to control bowel movements).
How to perform male Kegel exercises
Step 1. Find the right muscles
To begin, stand naked in front of the mirror (you might want to draw the blinds for this one) and try to tighten your pelvic floor muscles. If you’re tightening the right muscles, you’ll see the base of the penis draw inward and the scrotum lift slightly.
If you’re still unsure if you’re doing it right, try stopping mid-flow next time you urinate — the muscles you use to do this are the same ones you should be ‘squeezing’ during Kegels. When you relax the muscles again, you’ll feel a sensation of ‘letting go’.
Step 2. Master the technique
Once you’ve perfected the art of contracting your pelvic floor muscles, try squeezing and holding them for 3 to 5 seconds, before relaxing them for roughly the same amount of time. When you feel more confident, try holding the inward squeeze for a little longer each time (up to 10 seconds).
When you first start doing Kegel exercises, you may find it easier to do them in a lying position. As soon as you’ve got the technique down to a fine art, however, do them however feels comfortable: lying, sitting, or standing with your legs slightly apart.
Step 3. Keep your focus
It’s important to focus solely on contracting the pelvic floor muscles; the muscles in your thighs, buttocks and abdomen should stay relaxed. You should also focus on your breathing — avoid holding your breath, try to breathe calmly and normally, and gently exhale as you squeeze your pelvic floor.
Step 4. Repeat
Kegels are only effective if they’re performed regularly over a sustained period of time, so you should aim for at least 3 sets of 10 repetitions every day. Try to space them out evenly throughout the day, performing one set in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one before bed, for example.
Tips for remembering to do your Kegel exercises
They say a habit can take up to 30 days to form, so it’s important to be consistent with your Kegels to the point where doing them daily becomes second nature. Get used to doing Kegel exercises every day, and you’ll be well on your way to a stronger pelvic floor, longer erections, and better bladder and bowel control.
Struggling to maintain a consistent Kegel routine? Try some of these suggestions:
Try to do your Kegel workouts at roughly the same time each day. That way, you’re more likely to develop a routine.
Set an alarm or reminder on your smartphone or watch to prompt you to do your exercises on schedule.
Attach your pelvic floor exercises to other daily habits so that you’ll be more likely to do them every day — try doing your Kegels while brushing your teeth, for example.
Do a set of Kegels as soon as you wake up (you don’t even have to get out of bed!) and right before you go to sleep.
Do them whenever you have a few minutes spare. Waiting for the kettle to boil doesn’t need to be ‘dead time’ — do 10 reps of Kegel exercises then.
While it may seem a weird thing to talk about, don’t be afraid to discuss your pelvic floor exercises with your male friends. You can spur each other on and remind each other to keep doing them!
Remember, men have pelvic floors too, and while there’s far more information out there about the importance of regular pelvic floor training for women, that doesn’t mean it’s any less essential for a man. By strengthening your pelvic floor muscles through daily Kegel exercises, you can prevent unwelcome trouser leaks and improve your sexual stamina. Win-win.
The medical information in this article is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult your doctor for guidance about a specific medical condition.