Do Kegels Work?

There is so much more to a kegel than 'just tightening.' If you've been doing kegels for ages and still leaking, consider taking a closer look at what your body needs.
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Question: “Dr. Kelly, I’ve been doing Kegels forever, and I still leak! Do Kegels work?”

Answer: Well, do you know the WHOLE picture of a 4 part Kegel, and which part of that Kegel YOUR body needs? (Hint: likely not the tightening part)

“I’ve been doing Kegels for ages, and I still leak!” is a common statement for me to hear, or a common message I get on my Instagram account.  “You may not doing them correctly for you, personally” is often my reply. 

When we find the need to Google “Do Kegels Work”, usually what we are missing is the knowledge that the upward and inward Kegel contraction is only a quarter of the puzzle.  The bigger piece is ensuring that the muscles of the abdomen and pelvic floor and hips can activate independently of each other, as well as together, as well as ensuring that the abdomen or gluteals can remain engaged while the pelvic floor relaxes. 

I just blew your mind, didn’t I?  I know.  Happens every day.

Here’s the money maker

Appropriately doing kegels is one of the hardest things anyone could ever do, which is also why they get a bad rep. 

It IS true that if I tell 4 people to ‘just do kegels’ that 2 will do them wrong and not get better, 1 will do it so wrong that they’ll make themselves worse, and only 1 will do it well enough to see improvement. 

So by “just telling someone” to do kegels, you have an equal chance of hurting them as you do helping them…that’s crap medicine, my friends.

BUT…being trained to do Kegels correctly (including the relaxing parts!!) can be life changing, and will positively affect EVERY aspect of your life, from physical fitness, to mental health, sexual fulfillment and overall appreciation of how amazing our pelvises are! 

Being trained to do Kegels involves anatomy education, self awareness, and, yes, TOUCHING YOUR PELVIC FLOOR MUSCLES to figure out what they are doing. 

image of pelvic floor muscles, showing their resting position at the bottom of the pelvis, like a hammock.  The muscles should rest at about 3/4 range relaxed, then be able to contract up and in when needed, relax easily back down, then gently buldge down and out (like a flower opening) the bottom 1/4 of range, before again returning to resting position.
The pelvic floor muscles should rest mostly relaxed, then be able to contract up and in when needed, relax easily back down, then gently buldge down and out (like a flower opening) to the bottom of their range, before again returning to resting position.

Q: But, I repeat… do kegels work?

A: Yes, kegel training can help, as long as you know what your body needs. Not your sister’s body, or your friend’s…but YOURS.

How can I do a Kegel, to benefit me?

See my earlier blog post for instructions in Kegel performance, this cool article I wrote for Uquora, and check out my Pelvic Floored Signature Lecture Series for a much more in depth training, including how, specifically, to do a self pelvic floor muscle exam.  And if all that fails, schedule an appointment in person or virtually with a pelvic floor PT.  Spending money on your pelvic health is the best investment you can ever make.  You are worth it. 

So essentially, if you’ve ‘been doing Kegels for ages and they’re not working’, then 1. You’re not doing them right for you, or 2. You’re missing a piece of the puzzle, and just continuing to do them as you have been doing them, is not going to magically work, or 3. maybe you need something else in addition to the kegel training (core strength, coordination, power, a pessary…)

If you’ve been doing Kegels for ages and your not feeling better, you need to reassess what you need, to improve.  Because when something is going to work, it works.  You deserve to get your life back, so time to make a change. 

I recommend finding a Pelvic PT near you, coming to work with me one on one, or purchasing one of my Online Streamable Courses.

Thanks for reading! If you haven’t already, please follow me on Instagram, and join my mailing list to be kept up to date on other AMAZING blog posts with practical tips for improving your pelvic (and overall) health prenatally, postpartum and beyond!  Some fan favorites are our guide to doing kegels, and how kegels can, in fact, contribute to saving the world.

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Thanks for reading!

xoxo, Dr. Kelly

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