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Like most humans who haven't given birth and aren't Samantha from Sex and the City, I haven't given much thought to kegels. The vaginal exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles are something that I imagine bored housewives do while their husbands bang the secretary and they mix their nightly pitcher of tears and margaritas (not a bad lifestyle, if you ask me). So when my editor emailed to ask if I'd like to to do an intense regimen of kegels on the regels (that's "regular" for those in the kegel community) (probably) for a month, I was kinda like, "Ummm... do you think my vag is like sleeve of wizard? Do I give off that 'loose vagina' vibe?!"
I haven't had a baby, nor have I had sex with any dicks the size of babies (no offense, past lovers), so why the hell would I need to do kegels? Do I really need to clench my vag (I know that's not technically what it is but it's what it feels like, so just deal) while watching Netflix? Isn't my vag already clenched enough? I mean, I'm a pretty stressed out person and that has to lead to the tightening of all muscles, right?
Turns out, I was wrong. Dead wrong.
Most people can stand to do kegels, whether they've given birth, have boned tons of enormous dongs, or are just your average idiot (me!). Sure, kegels are most beneficial to certain groups of women (pre- and post-childbirth, those who do heavy lifting, or those who suffer from incontinence or sexual dysfunction), but as Dr. Natasha Bhuyan of One Medical Group told me, "[I]t's important for women to at least practice kegels so they can become familiar with the sensation of strengthening their pelvic floor muscles."
In fact, men can benefit from kegels (opens in new tab), too! Yay feminism! (I tried to convince my husband to get in on the hot kegel action, but he took a hard pass. Don't come crying to me when your butt falls out of your butt, my friend.)
With all that in mind, I started on My Month of Kegels. I would stick with this Cosmopolitan-endorsed routine (opens in new tab) and I would do it once a day and two times a day on the weekend. (Because weekends are for punishing yourself for all the shit you don't do well enough during the week, obviously.)
How many times have you read that you should be doing kegels during lunch meetings and while you're driving to work? Your response was probably, "Oh yeah; I should do that," but in reality, it's hard enough to remember to eat something green at lunch, let alone contract your pelvic muscles. It takes so much concentration that on my first day, I find it almost impossible to do kegels while holding down a conversation with another individual; the urge to scream, "I'M DOING KEGELS RIGHT NOW!!!" is just too great. Also, when I try doing them in traffic, I almost get into an accident when someone hit their breaks mid-squeeze.
It just wasn't working.
I had to set aside specific times to GKD (Get Kegels Done). On my second day, I decided to start the routine of kegels first thing in the morning and kegels right before bed. Like flossing, but with your vagina!
In the following days, I find it's a schedule I can keep, especially if I look at my husband straight in the eye like this (opens in new tab) while doing the morning circuit. He asked me to please look away, but I couldn't. I concentrate better while creeping out another person, I guess?
After a few days, I notice I'm a little sore. Am I so out of shape in my nether regions that I get sore doing exercises that don't even look like exercise? Again, Dr. Bhuyan to the rescue: "Any muscle group can become sore with initial use, and pelvic floor muscles are no exception." However, she did warn that if I experience vaginal pain while doing kegels, I should see my doctor immediately. That wasn't the case with me, as my pelvic floor felt like my thighs do after I climb many flights (OK, two flights) of stairs. So no luck in getting out of these things quite yet.
By the end of the first week, I'm firmly settled into my routine, but don't notice any major differences in any aspect of my life.
Staying the course. Soreness gone. All of the exercises are pretty easy (and getting easier! Thanks, muscle memory); it's a lot like a cool-down routine at Jazzercise (my prefered workout; fit is it!) but with the added bonus of working that pelvic floor double-time. The only one that's exceedingly embarrassing to do is The Butterfly (opens in new tab), which requires me to lay on my back and basically fan out my vagina for three sets of five reps. It's the most humiliating thing I've ever done and I was once slightly aroused by animated porn of Carrot Top humping a dry erase board. (Don't Google that!)
Pretty sure my pelvic floor is getting to be as strong as The Hulk. Like, if my pelvic floor were a moving company, we could handle a 2 bedroom, 1 bath apartment, no prob. I kinda want to try picking something up, but that seems insane, right?
*Google's "Picking stuff up with vagina."* *Burns out corneas and retinas.* *Am now blind and can't stop throwing up.*
I guess I won't be doing that.
It should first be noted that my sexual guinea pig (husband) did not notice a difference in the feel of my vagina during this entire process. When I pressed him to tell me that my love canal (sexy, I know) now felt like an 18-year-old virgin, he just walked out of the room shaking his head and cursing my editor's name. I'll take that as a yes!
Now, onto the truly scary stuff:
The second to last morning of this experiment, I found this scrawled in my bedside journal:
Terrifying, no? It's either my subconscious accepting that kegels are here to stay or I'm gonna wake up dead tomorrow because someone who knows all about my kegel routine is breaking into my house and journaling for me in the middle of the night.
Either way, kegels are here to stay. Sure, not every day — I'm need to sleep, goddamit! — but probably at least once a week. (Sundays? That feels the most right. I'm not a religious person but I do love a good hat so maybe I can put on a hat while I do my kegels.)
Aside from weird nighttime journal entries, my month of kegels did have one very positive outcome. While I'm not incontinent (praise hands), I do have to pee quite a bit. I've had it checked out by my OBGYN who didn't find any medical issues, but I always suspected I went more than the average Jane.
After a month of kegels, I noticed a drop in the frequency of my bathroom trips; mainly because I feel like I can "hold it" longer. Instead of having to pee right-the-fuck-NOW, I can wait a little and know I won't have to make a mad dash for the loo after a second vodka tonic. I haven't really changed any other aspect of my slovenly lifestyle so I'm pretty sure it must be the kegels, and Dr. Bhuyan agrees. Kegels, she says, can help with incontinence and related issues. "Specifically, doing Kegel exercises for just three months can help improve the symptoms of stress incontinence, which causes urine leakage when coughing, laughing, or sneezing," she told me.
And since I'm getting the benefits after only a month in, I can't help but think it'll just get better and better. Pretty soon I'll be the poster child for not having to pee all the fucking time. Look for me on an MTA billboard soon.
All in all, kegels might not make you able to squeeze your boyfriend's dick off during sex, but they definitely are legit for health reasons. And if you have the time to binge watch the latest Netflix show, you have the time to squeeze your pelvic walls in the name of your physical well-being. Go forth and contract, my friends.
Follow Marie Claire on Instagram (opens in new tab) for the latest celeb news, pretty pics, funny stuff, and an insider POV.
I write on Fox’s THE GREAT NORTH. Before that, I wrote and edited for Cosmopolitan (opens in new tab) magazine and the Jezebel (opens in new tab) blog. My writing has also appeared in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Esquire, VICE, Marie Claire, McSweeney’s, California Sunday, BUST, Elle, Village Voice, Harper’s Bazaar, LA Weekly, Eater, Fast Company, Mic, Atlas Obscura, and more. I co-host/co-produce a comedy/storytelling (opens in new tab) show on the first Friday of every month at Stories in LA. I have a degree in Film and TV from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts.
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