Do Kegel Exercises Really Benefit Your Sex Life?

Urinary incontinence is a common issue, for those with vulvas. According to the Mayo Clinic, as many as 50% of these people will experience involuntary leakage at some point in their life, with that percentage jumping up to 75% for people over the age of 65. But despite just how common urinary incontinence is, very few people actually bring it to their doctor because of the shame surrounding it, and, even more detrimental to these situations is our culture's inability to accept that — breaking news — women get older.


Realizing just how frequent urinary incontinence is, in the late 1940s, American gynecologist Arnold Kegel developed something that he hoped would help combat the problem in a non-invasive way that wouldn't require surgery. He devised a specific set of exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor by contracting and releasing its muscles. Although he didn't name these exercises after himself — a rarity for male doctors, scientists, and inventors — because he is the mastermind behind them, his name has been attached to these exercises ever since: Kegels.

Over the years, Kegel exercises have gone from being great for preventing urinary incontinence and prolapsed organs, like the uterus, to being an asset for better sex lives. But is there any truth to the latter? As usual, it depends on who you ask.


What Kegel exercises can do

Without a doubt, Kegel exercises are amazing for incontinence — both urinary and bowel — in people with vulvas and penises. (Yes! Everyone can do Kegels!) The reason for this is pretty simple: stronger muscles lead to more control and Kegel exercises are all about strengthening the pelvic floor, which is where all these organs come together. "A healthy pelvic floor is critical, as these muscles provide a flexible, hammock-like support to major organs like the bladder, uterus, and rectum, and contract or close around the urethra and rectum to hold in urine, feces, and gas," board-certified gynecologist Tamara Grisales, MD told Everyday Health.


As we get older and gravity starts to take its toll, these exercises become even more important in preventing things like prolapses. According to a 2023 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, regular Kegel exercises not only help with incontinence, but with pelvic organ prolapse (POP) prevention too — the descent of the bladder, uterus, and/or rectum — something that affects 50% of people with vulvas. Naturally, such a thing drastically interferes with the lives of the people it happens to, so making time for a regular Kegel routine is paramount now to avoid surgery later.

How Kegels could possibly benefit your sex life

If we hook this theory on the fact that Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor, then there's possibly something to the claim. These particular movements improve blood circulation to the genitals, which is essential for arousal and lubrication, but that's not a direct link. Even legendary sex guru Dr. Ruth told Time that even though some women credit Kegel exercise for helping their sex life, she "hesitates to promote Kegels too strongly because I don't want women to think that doing these exercises is some sort of magical cure for any problems they may have achieving sexual satisfaction." Dr. Ruth also pointed out that clitoral stimulation is most often necessary for orgasm; a body part that doesn't reap an impact from Kegel exercises.


Obstetrician and gynecologist Juraj Letko, MD suggested that Kegel exercises may only benefit sex as a placebo effect, writing for UChicago Medicine that what affects sexual experiences might be more psychological than anything else. However, Letko also pointed out that even if that's the case, as long as these people are feeling secure in the strength of their pelvic floor and believe their sex life is better for it, then who are we to tell them they're wrong?

While Kegels and better sex may not be scientifically linked, at the end of the day, do you. However, because this pelvic floor exercise has been proven to help with other ailments, you're better off making them a daily practice