How To Find The Right Pelvic Floor Muscles For Kegels

pelvic floor muscles diagram

Understanding the correct muscles to use when doing kegel exercises can be a little confusing when you first start.

Unlike many other muscles, it’s not so easy to visually confirm that you’re doing the exercises correctly.

Part of the problem is that many websites advise men to squeeze their Pubococcygeus muscle (PC muscle), and don’t provide accurate descriptions of where it is exactly.

They also miss out the fact that the Bulbocavernous muscle (BC muscle) plays a major role for men if they want to do kegels to control their ejaculation.

In an interesting piece of research into pelvic floor rehabilitation for men with lifelong PE at the University of Rome in 2014, the researchers note that:

The pelvic floor undoubtedly plays an important role in sexual function; evidence suggests active roles of the ischiocavernous and bulbocavernous muscles, and sphincters, with a significant increase in electromyographic activity during the entire ejaculatory period

Personally, I don’t think the name matters too much 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 to use.

The simple way to find the right muscles

There are 3 ways you can check if you’re using the correct muscles:

1. Locating the muscles while urinating

The first technique is to mentally squeeze the base of your penis to stop yourself urinating mid flow. The muscles that you use to do this are the muscles you need to use when doing kegels.

If you can’t stop 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 to get an idea of which muscle to use. Don’t do it every time you go to the toilet, as this isn’t recommended by Urologists.

2. Finding the muscles manually

The second technique is to feel the pelvic floor with your fingers while lying 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.

3. Locating the muscles with an erection

A third technique, and one which can be a useful visual check, is with an erection. If you squeeze/contract the pelvic floor muscles, you should find your erection rises slightly. And if you then relax the squeeze, it should drop down a little.

You might also find that you can feel or see your erection getting bigger or harder. This is another function of the BC muscle, so you may find this is a useful way to check you’re using that muscle.

Understanding the different muscles used

There are 3 main muscles of the pelvic floor which are targeted by kegels. They all have different roles, but are also connected in a sort of pelvic floor hammock of muscles. So trying to exercise one muscle specifically will also work the others to a certain extent.

You can see the locations in the following diagram, with explanations of each one below.

diagram showing the pubococcygeus muscle locationThe Bulbocavernosus muscle

The BC muscle is the main muscle to use when doing kegels, not just the PC muscle. It’s located around the bulb, or base, of 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

The PC muscle is the large muscle which stretches from the pubic bone to the tailbone. Its 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 Ischiocavernosus (IC) muscle

The IC muscle sits next to the BC muscle, and its roles are:

  • It’s involved in maintaining an erection and stabilizing the penis.
  • It helps to flex the anus.

Which muscles to use and when

When doing a normal kegel squeeze just before the point of no return you need to focus on contracting mainly the BC muscle, and the IC and PC muscles will also contract when you contract that area.

When doing reverse kegels, the idea is to relax all the muscles – during sex you should try to keep all of the muscles of the pelvic floor relaxed.

You would only do a strong kegel hold before the point of no return by contracting/squeezing the pelvic floor muscles.

To quote the same piece of research as earlier again:

we demonstrated that active perineal muscle control inhibits the ejaculation reflex through intentional relaxation of the bulbocavernous and ischiocavernous muscles, which are active during arousal and should be intentionally relaxed during this phase of sexual intercourse.

So it’s good to do kegel exercises on your own to gain an awareness of your pelvic floor muscles and develop strength and control.

But when you have sex, forget about squeezing and contracting and focus instead on keeping nice and relaxed.

Read more: my guide to kegels

75 thoughts on “How To Find The Right Pelvic Floor Muscles For Kegels”

    1. Hi Jason
      It’s normal for that to happen when you’re learning. But ideally, you want to try to isolate the muscles so that you don’t squeeze the anus.

  1. Hi Ethen
    I wonder if an enlarged prostate can cause night time leaking which is my problem starting a year ago for no particular reason. No issues with erection nor PE but have noticed a reduced and sluggish ejaculation. Could it be lack of/no sexual intercourse due to my wife’s illness for many years. Can the BC or PC muscles weaken due to lack of activity? Perhaps bladder wall also weakened for some reason? Leaking started around a year ago. I used to be quite proficient in the past when active. If you don’t use it do you lose it?

    1. Hi Wayne
      Do you mean leaking urine or semen? If you don’t have sex, or masturbate, it’s normal to start leaking semen I think. But if it’s urine, it could be a sign of a physical condition, in which case speak to your doctor probably.

  2. Brain Scott

    I’m sorry to bother you. But i have a trouble in having sex( premature ejaculation of course!). I’ll meet my girl friend in the next 5 months. And I’m really worry about that, you know, it’ll be a shame when we just ejaculating too fast. So i’m wondering if Reverse Kegel or Normal Kegel is good to stop my problem. Tks a lot! :)

    1. Hi there
      Well, I think the thing is to try lots of different techniques, not just rely on one or two. Premature ejaculation isn’t something that I think can easily be fixed just by choosing one type of kegel exercise. It’s better to learn as many techniques as possible, and put them all into action. If you take a good look around this site, you’ll find lots of useful advice that should help.

  3. I was wondering how exactly do I hold the PE muscle at will. I’ve been trying for a bit now and I just can’t seem to get it. Thanks

  4. What to do of pc muscle while doing sex. Please explain that how pc muscle is helpful in sex and how to use pc muscle while doing intercourse.

  5. Hi Ethan

    Thanks for the great article, it s the best i have found on the net!
    One thing still confuses me:
    There are two ways I can contract. One is a hard contraction, only possible to hold for about one second and hard to breath with. It’s the same contraction as if i would pump during ejaculation. When i let the contraction go (relax) i can really feel my muscle moving (feeling in my body not with the fingers).

    The other one is more subtle and i can hold it easily also whilst breathing. But i don’t feel the muscle that much moving.
    Is it physically more exhausting to do a proper kegel than stop the urin flow( which i can easily do for as long as i want) ?

    I would really appreciate an answer

    1. Hi Peter
      Thanks for the compliment – it’s always good to hear an article is appreciated:-)
      I’m not sure about your question, to be honest. For me it’s just a case of being able to contract as hard or gently as I like, not hard or subtle. So I wonder if maybe you’re using different muscles each time? Do you feel that both types target the same muscle(s) or are more engaged in one movement than the other?
      As for the second question, I don’t find it more or less difficult – just the same really. Though sometimes during sex, that kegel hold might need to be stronger and for longer than I would do for holding back the urine flow.

      1. Hi Ethan
        Thanks heeps for your reply! I think there might be different muscles targeted in the two ways, but as you said a kegel is about as difficult as holding the urine flow the first described contraction is probably wrong or at least done too hard.
        Is doing a quick kegel then the same sort of contraction as if semen gets pushed out of your penis during ejaculation? (It’s this kind of pumping feeling)

        Thanks again!

        1. Hi
          You’re very welcome. Yes, doing kegels holds quickly in a row will feel similar to the contraction felt during ejaculation, as it’s the same muscle used to pump out the semen and to do a kegel. And that’s also the reason it’s better to avoid doing kegel holds during sex unless at the point of no return, or you’re kind of just imitating the act that happens during ejaculation, thus potentially making it happen quicker – the opposite of what you want to achieve!

          1. Hi Ethan

            Thanks a lot! With this description i am finally sure that i target the right muscle. I know the article already states that the bc muscle squeezes out semen, but it confused me somewhat that you wrote the pc muscle contracts during orgasm.
            Now it’s clear though! I must say you do outstanding work to answer all these comments.
            All the best

          2. Hi Peter
            You’re welcome! I’ll have another look through the article to see if it needs to be made clearer. Glad you found the site and comments useful!

  6. Hibiscus

    Hi Ethan

    I’m too suffering with the problem of premature ejaculation. I ejaculate just in the moment while in. I don’t want to bother you with the same question. Would you ensure me that this exercise would help me to last long?

    Thanks :-)

    1. Hi Hibiscus
      I can’t promise that kegels will definitely help. But they are certainly worth trying. I do recommend looking around this site thoroughly as well to get an idea of other techniques that might help.

  7. Sukhdeep

    Hi Ethan,
    I am doing keel From last one week and I have feel pain now when have erection. I think , am doing wrong. Please help me because one month back also I start kegal exercise but I leave after one week. I try to find PC muscle while doing pee and I find but while lay down I cannot contract the muscle which is, I feel while pee stop. Please help me because I want to success.

    1. Hi Sukhdeep
      Have you tried doing the kegels when sitting or standing instead then? You might find it easier to target the correct muscles.
      If you’re feeling pain when you have an erection, that’s not good. It could be because you’re just doing the squeezes too hard, or doing them too often. But there’s no way of me being able to tell, or advise you in an accurate way.
      So really, my advice would be to err on the side of caution. If you have problems each time you try to do kegels, then perhaps it’s not the best exercise for you. Maybe you’ll have more success just doing the simple, but effective, start-stop technique instead.
      Kegels aren’t the only way to tackle PE, and in my opinion there’s no point causing yourself more problems like painful erections.

  8. Please help to find the muscles required for performing kegel exercise. I am not sire which ones are the muscles . Are those muscles located around the base of penis and show contractions when I press the perineum? Please help!!

    1. Hi Rahul
      The best way is really to stop yourself peeing in mid flow. There’s no better way to work out which are the right muscles to use. Other than that and the other ideas I’ve suggested, there’s not much more I can do to help, I’m afraid. Keep trying the techniques, and with practise you should get it. It can take a few days to develop some control, so don’t worry – keep at it!

  9. Shaun Arman

    Hi Ethan!

    I first read this guide a year back when my performance was average but with the help of this article I was able to do much better. But after some time I stopped and started again with my concepts not in place and I think I started exercising the wrong muscle. Now I cant last a minute. I can’t control my evacuation nor stop or delay it. How can I fix this?

    1. Hi Shaun
      It’s great to hear from someone who put the techniques into place a long time ago and had success with them – at least initially. It might not be that you’ve started doing it incorrectly – it’s more likely that because you stopped doing them, your performance dropped back down again. Unfortunately that can happen. Do you think you can take a break again for a week, in case you have incurred some muscle tightness, and then try to repeat more carefully what you did a year ago? And did you do only kegel exercises, or other techniques as well?

  10. Do you have any explanation on, ok say if I’m watching porn I ejaculate in like 1 to 2 minutes sometimes a maybe can last 5. But if I’m not watching it I can last between 20 to 30 min. Do you think I would ejaculate quick while having sex and is this a problem? Should I just stop watching porn, cause I can even last around 10 to 15 minutes just looking at pics of porn, but when I watch it I can’t last long at all. Any suggestions and can you please answer all my questions?

    1. Hi Brad
      It’s very normal to last longer without watching porn. It’s just much more exciting watching porn, and harder to control yourself. I don’t know if it means you’ll ejaculate faster during sex – I don’t know of any proven correlation, and I suspect most guys ejaculate quicker with porn anyway, even those who can last longer during sex. As for not watching it, well that’s a personal choice. I think it’s ok once in a while, but it’s also good to masturbate without it. There are lots of arguments for and against watching it, so it’s up to you to work out what’s best.

  11. Hi. I have suffered from PE ever since i first had sex which was when i was 16, i am now 31. I don’t last more than 10 secs, it really gets your down. Do u think the kegels will work for me? I have never talked to a doctor about it that’s because I’m to ashamed to talk about it. I just avoid sex because i know the women would just laugh. Is there anything else you can recommend if the kegels don’t work? I live in the uk. Hope u can help.

    1. Hi Tony
      I understand your concern and embarrassment, believe me! Personally, I think that kegels can be useful, but the start and stop method is better really. I’d focus on that one, and then do some kegels as well once you get going on it. I’d also maybe try out a desensitizing product and see if that makes a big difference.

  12. Hello sir,
    Is there any inches or centimeter will gain in a penis by doing that.?
    Thanks in advance sir.

  13. Hi ethan
    I m suffering from disaster when it comes to having sex as I just melt in less than 10’s all happening as I was a drug addict. last 13 yrs of my life I have been chasing brown sugar n have smoked cannabis n popped sleeping pills n drank cough syrups n what I m clean from last 5 months n I can’t c my tissues regenerating as doctors said it will.I really melt in less than 10 seconds after insertion.I m trying to do kegels but it’s gonna take a lot of time for me to last just can’t wait for so long n might lose it n fall back to drugs.I m 35 n want to get married n settle down in life as early as possible.please help me.. suggestions I need as all the doctors I have met have just made money n made me a fool.also does the vacuum therapy helps??
    Ur advice would be highly appreciated

    1. Hi Raja
      I think perhaps you could try both a desensitizing options and the longer-term techniques at the same time. That way you can improve the situation right now, but also be working on a more permanent solution. I don’t think vacuum pumps work for premature ejaculation, no.

  14. Sir please am suffering from pE an i wont to start the kegel exercis. pls how is the squeesing and contuction of eirher the BC or PC muscles done. is it done by hands.please help me with explanation. Thank You.

    1. Hi Oxford
      No, it’s not done by using your hands. All of the squeezing is done by mental control. In the same way as you would “tell” your arm to flex your bicep muscle, you do the same with the PC muscle. The only tricky thing is that it’s not so easy to know you’re doing it right!

  15. Is there a way to move your penis side to side? I’ve heard stories, but how? The JC muscles? Thanks

    1. Hi Manny
      To be honest, it’s not something I’ve ever looked into or experimented with because I can’t see a use for it! Maybe if you have highly developed control of your pelvic floor muscles, you’ll be able to. But for what purpose?

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