Sex Tips

Kegel Exercises Offer Sexual Benefits To Both Women And Men

June 22, 2015 by Justin Lehmiller


Kegel exercises have been around for more than a half century. In fact, they were first described by Dr. Arnold Kegel back in the 1940s. Although they were initially developed as a means of helping women who experienced urinary control issues after childbirth, researchers and therapists have discovered that they also offer sexual benefits to both women and men.

What Kegel exercises do is to develop the pelvic floor muscles, a complex set of musculature that surrounds and supports the organs in the pelvis. The muscles we’re talking about are the muscles that you would use if you tried to stop the flow of urine midstream. The recommended exercise routines are similar for men and women and involve doing a mix of “long Kegels” (i.e., where you squeeze the muscles and hold them for a few seconds before releasing) and “short Kegels” (i.e., where you squeeze and release the muscles rapidly). These exercises must be performed multiple times per day for several weeks before the benefits start to kick in.

Among women, the benefits can include improved sexual functioning, such as increased sexual desire, relief from pain during intercourse, as well as a greater ease of reaching orgasm [1]. Among men, the benefits can include improved erections and greater ejaculatory control. In fact, Kegel exercises have been used to successfully treat both erectile dysfunction [2] and premature ejaculation in some cases [3]. Some sex researchers have also suggested that Kegel exercises may be helpful to men who want to become multiply orgasmic [4].

However, in order to get the benefits of these exercises, you have to do two things. First, make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly. In most of the research documenting the benefits of Kegel exercises [1,2,3], these techniques were carefully described to patients by a knowledgeable source and biofeedback devices were used in the initial training sessions. These devices help the patient determine whether they’re contracting the right muscles and provide information on the strength of their contractions and how long each one is held. Learning the techniques from an experienced practitioner and using biofeedback will likely promote better results; however, for those with cost and/or privacy concerns, at-home biofeedback kits do exist. That said, I’m not aware of any research comparing results for these kits to those achieved through clinical biofeedback.

Second, it’s important to stick to the program. Kegel exercises are really only linked to benefits in cases where the exercises are performed regularly for an extended period of time. You’re unlikely to experience much (if any) benefit if you only do the exercises for a few days or from time to time.

In short, Kegel exercises can be useful for treating a range of sexual difficulties in both men and women; however, the odds of experiencing sexual improvements depend upon whether the exercises are performed correctly and regularly.

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[1] Beji, N. K., Yalcin, O., & Erkan, H. A. (2003). The effect of pelvic floor training on sexual function of treated patients. International Urogynecology Journal, 14(4), 234-238.

[2] Dorey, G., Speakman, M. J., Feneley, R. C., Swinkels, A., & Dunn, C. D. (2005). Pelvic floor exercises for erectile dysfunction. BJU International, 96(4), 595-597.

[3] LaPera, G., & Nicastro, A. (1996). A new treatment for premature ejaculation: The rehabilitation of the pelvic floor. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 22, 22-26.

[4] Hartman, W. E., & Fithian, M. (1984). Any man can. St. Martin’s Press.

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Written by
Dr. Justin Lehmiller
Founder & Owner of Sex and Psychology

Dr. Justin Lehmiller is a social psychologist and Research Fellow at The Kinsey Institute. He runs the Sex and Psychology blog and podcast and is author of the popular book Tell Me What You Want. Dr. Lehmiller is an award-winning educator, and a prolific researcher who has published more than 50 academic works.

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