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


+ Add Comment
    1. Ethan Green

      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. Ethan Green

      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. Ethan Green

      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. Ethan Green

      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. Ethan Green

          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!

        2. 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

        3. Ethan Green

          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!

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