Finding the correct muscles to use when doing kegel exercises can be quite confusing and frustrating at first. Many websites simply refer to the PC muscle and don’t provide accurate descriptions of where or what it is exactly.
One major reason for the confusion is that kegels were thought up for women originally. And so many sources still think that it’s only the pubococcygeus muscle that’s important. They miss out the fact that the bulbocavernosus muscle also has a major role for men.
Personally, I don’t think the name matters as long as you’re exercising the correct muscles. You don’t need a full understanding of anatomical terminology – you just need an understanding of which muscles you’re supposed to use.
So in this article I’ll first explain the kegel muscles the simple way for beginners. Then I’ll clarify them in more detail for guys who want to fine-tune their kegel work, and who like to know exactly which muscles they’re using and why.
The simple way to find the kegel muscles
To get started let’s completely ignore anatomical names and just refer to the muscles you’ll be using as the ‘kegel muscles’. There are 2 ways you can be sure you’re using the correct muscles:
1. Locating the muscles while urinating
The first technique to find the kegel muscles is to try and stop yourself urinating mid-flow. The same muscles that you use to do this are the same muscles you need to use when doing kegels.
If you find yourself unable to totally stop yourself urinating then it may be that the muscles just aren’t well developed at the moment. Don’t worry though – as long as you find that the flow reduces, you’re probably using the correct muscles.
When first doing this you may find it useful to start and stop the flow of urine several times until you gain an understanding of which muscles to use.
Please note that stopping the flow of urine is something you only need to do once or twice to get an idea of which muscle to use. Don’t try doing it every time you go to the toilet, as this isn’t recommended by Urologists as safe to do long-term.
2. Finding the Muscles manually
Another way to locate the muscle is on your back. Lie down, raise your knees and then use a couple of fingers to push gently onto your perineum – the area of skin between your testicles and anus.
If you then try to squeeze the muscles you would if stopping yourself peeing you should feel contractions under your fingers. You can experiment by trying to squeeze whichever muscles you can in that area until you’re able to feel those contractions.
Understanding the different muscles used
There are 3 main muscles of the pelvic floor which you’ll end up exercising when doing kegels and reverse kegels. They all have different roles, but are also connected so that trying to exercise one will also work the others to a certain extent. You can see the locations in the following diagram, with explanations of each one below.
The Bulbocavernosus muscle is actually the main muscle guys need to use when doing kegels, not the PC muscle as most people think. It’s located around the bulb, or base, or the penis. The two main roles of the BC muscle are:
- Squeezing semen or urine out of the urethra.
- Squeezing more blood into the end of the penis.
So in this way it contributes to both erection strength and ejaculation.
The Pubococcygeus muscle (PC muscle)
The pubococcygeus muscle is the large muscle which stretches from the pubic bone to the tail bone It’s main roles are:
- Also plays a role in urination and bowel movements.
- Forms a large part of the pelvic floor, supporting lower organs.
- Contracts during orgasm.
The Iliococcygeus muscle (IC muscle)
The Iliococcygeus muscle sits next to the PC muscle, and stretches the same length across the pelvic floor, though is thinner. When doing kegels you’ll probably end up also contracting it, though it doesn’t really play a role in ejaculation control. Instead it’s roles are:
- Like the PC muscle it forms part of the strength of the pelvic floor.
- It pulls the anus back up after a bowel movement.
Which muscles to use and when
This is where things can get slightly complicated, especially when doing kegels to help with premature ejaculation. As far as I’m aware, the bulbocavernosus muscle is the key player in kegels, though the pubococcygeus muscle also has a role.
When doing a kegel squeeze just before the point of no return you need to focus on contracting mainly the BC muscle, but also to an extent the PC will probably tighten as a result, and a lesser extent even the IC.
When doing reverse kegels you can learn to isolate and relax either the BC or the PC muscle. Some people will say it’s good to learn to isolate them and practice relaxing them both.
The idea being that during sex you should try to keep the entire pelvic floor and all your kegel muscles relaxed. Tensing and squeezing only comes at the point of no return.
Note also that both the simple and more complex explanations in this description ultimately mean the same thing. It’s the muscle you learn to control, not the name, which is important at the end of the day.
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