How can I tactfully suggest that my wife do Kegels?
September 19, 2010 10:14 AM   Subscribe

How can I tactfully suggest that my wife do Kegels?

Pretty self-explanatory. We're both 40; she's had three children in the last seven years, and tissues and whatnot are just not as elastic as they were in younger years.

So, women: has this topic ever been broached to you in a sensitive and tactful way? If so -- or even if not -- helpful advice would be welcomed. Hell, feel free to write me a script if you think it would help. This is, I'm sure, a sensitive topic, and I really don't want to hurt her feelings.

Posting anonymously to forestall hurt feelings. If you need to respond anonymously, you can send an e-mail to this throwaway address:
posted by anonymous to Health & Fitness (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

men can do kegels too. mention that you've started doing them. and also start doing them. your performance will probably will benefit as well.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:18 AM on September 19, 2010

Kegels are not going to work miracles here, friend. She's had three children and you're both 40. I'd be willing to bet that SOME of the problem is that your erections aren't as hard as they used to be.

Instead of fixing your wife, why don't you try new positions? Try drying yourself off a bit between strokes to increase friction. Try novelty sensation lubricants.

I wouldn't try telling your wife that her vagina isn't good enough for you anymore. I mean, unless you really prefer the tension and friction of your hand.
posted by headspace at 10:20 AM on September 19, 2010 [67 favorites]

If you feel you absolutely must bring this up directly, at least be prepared to have something roughly equivalent you are going to do to make things more pleasurable for her. That way it's a more even grounded, "let's make this fun again, together," and not, "hey it's not what it used to be, so get on fixing that for me."

No matter how you word it, there's likely going to be a part that sounds like that unless you make your own efforts. Gently placed words are just still just words without some action to back them up.
posted by vienaragis at 10:43 AM on September 19, 2010

I'm not sure if you're an AskMe regular, but every while a "how can I tactfully tell my wife to lose weight" questions surfaces. And the answer is, universally, "start exercising." Considering that this is an issue about tenfold sensitive and with no exact equivalent on your end -- male kegels exist but the issue they address is not as explosive -- I'd say just ... don't. There are plenty of ways to better your sex life that does not involve telling your wife that her vagina is getting worn out. There are some great books -- reading-books not picture-books -- out there that address issues w/r/t sex during middle age and give helpful tips. Look into that rather than trying to place the blame on her.

Meanwhile, how do you know she's not already doing them? It's not like you can tell if she is. God forbid you mention this to her and she's already been at it for a while...
posted by griphus at 10:43 AM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

Most of your answer is probably in how you would want your wife to tell you that your erections are not as hard/as easy to come by/as long-lasting as they once were. Is this really worth mentioning?

But, why you are confident that she has not already Kegel'ed away? It is pretty unlikely that anyone is having three children, reaching 40, even simply having sex and having access to the internet, without having heard of Kegel exercises. Perhaps you simply want to head into a discussion about aging bodies in general, with the goal of ending up more comfortable talking about physical changes. If you are noticing changes you can be reasonably confident that she has noticed them as well, and while there aren't magical cures it would probably be nice to have stuff out in the open.

What with hitting 40 I am surprised you haven't already had a variety of chit-chats about the hassles involved with older bodies -- do neither of you fuss to the other about how you sometimes have to pee more often than you used to, have digestive bothers you didn't have before, etcetera?
posted by kmennie at 10:47 AM on September 19, 2010

You are alone. Pour some wine.

"Babe, I have a problem. It's totally my problem, and mine alone, but, I thought, since it involves our sex life, maybe you'd wanna help me out."


"Yeah... I hope you haven't noticed, but my erections just aren't what they used to be. I don't really want to use Viagra, those aren't real boners anyway, and I don't want you running off and leaving me for some sexual peak 18 year old, so I'm trying to fix it. I want to start doing Kegel exercises, that's supposed to help. But it's hard to remember. So, I thought, maybe if I mentioned it to you, you'd remind me. Or, you know what would be really nice? Maybe we could do them together, like, before bed or something. Because if we both toned up, that would go further to compensate my, yunno, problem. Or, if you don't want any part of this, I guess I'll just stick Kegel stickers everywhere."

And chuckle.

Then pour some more wine, and LISTEN.

I'm not saying this will work, but it's just about as tactful as I could come up with.
posted by Leta at 11:04 AM on September 19, 2010 [25 favorites]

I think the only way you might be able to ask this is if you frame this as a "How do we improve our sex life" conversation - with emphasis on the we. Instead of focusing on what you think your wife is not providing for you, focus on the things you can do together as a couple to make things better for both of you.
posted by theBigRedKittyPurrs at 11:05 AM on September 19, 2010

Wow, this is definitely a super sensitive subject, judging from the answers so far.

I do agree you should shoulder some of the responsibility, but that wasn't your question.

I think that you need to have a frank discussion, but here is an approach that might be better. Suggest it from the point of view that would benefit her. It will not just tone up her muscles, but probably give her better orgasms. It could be a fun part of sex play. Do not approach her from the standpoint that it's all for you.

It's a good idea to keep those muscles toned up, because as she approaches menopause, it can help prevent urine leakage issues, also.
posted by annsunny at 11:08 AM on September 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

What if you brought it up as a new, fun sexual technique, rather than an exercise she needs to do to repair her sagging undercarriage? The next time she's on top of you, ask her to pause and pulse her Kegels. Then make a big deal of how great it feels, like you're being gripped so tightly, etc., etc.-- NOT that it felt loose before, but that it's so hot and tight now, ooh baby, please just one more time?, etc. Over time, with plenty of positive reinforcement, maybe she'll be willing to get into the Kegel thing on a more regular basis. A lot of women find that having strong PC muscles increases their pleasure, too.
posted by Bardolph at 11:17 AM on September 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

I would be very, very careful to avoid anything that could have even the vaguest whiff of mainsplaining about it. If you bring it up, I would bring it up with the assumption that she knows what kegels are and what they are good for. And don't try to be all manipulative about it. ("positive reinforcement"? Jeez, she's your wife, not a bad puppy you're trying to paper train...)

I would not frame it as you telling her what would feel better for her, either. Or what would be better for her urinary tract health.

Please remember that she is a grown woman with full awareness of her own body and reasonable access to reproductive health information.
posted by Sara C. at 11:33 AM on September 19, 2010 [2 favorites]

I understand the outcome you're looking for (Great sex), and strategically, here is your problem:

You are suggesting a solution that you individually came up with, rather than identifying the problem to her and jointly developing solutions.

Bad: Individual solution: I'd like you to do Kegel exercises.

Good: Identifying problem and jointly developing solution(s): I love having sex with you, it's part of what makes our relationship great. There are things in our sex like that are still amazing, but there are also things I realize because our bodies have changed that I'm not enjoying as much. And I'm wondering if you feel the same way, or notice the same things, and what we can both do to make sure we have rocking sex in our 40s?

Solutions (plural, suggesting a multi pronged approach of new positions, exercising on both your parts, and all of the other suggestions you read above) probably have a better chance of getting you where you want to be. Developing them jointly puts both people on the hook for working towards their success, rather than just you and your one solution (since you came up with Kegel exercises).

It may seem that Kegel exercises are the solution (and they might be), but what happens if she does them, and you don't feel any improvement? Then you might come up with another solution, one after the other, where you're trying to figure this all out on your own, and she's probably getting less and less enthusiastic about your not-working-for-you-or-her plans.

That's the road to finger pointing frustration and failure.

So, tl;dr: If you want joint participation, and sex usually involves joint participation, you have to identify the goal, the scope of what's great/what the problem is and jointly develop solution(s) to get to that goal.
posted by anitanita at 11:38 AM on September 19, 2010 [4 favorites]

[few comments removed - quit being jerkish PERIOD. If you absolutely can't do that, you have metatalk as an option. thank you.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 12:18 PM on September 19, 2010

Definitely point out the other benefits of kegels - fighting incontinence, increased blood flow helping intensify orgasms, etc. Maybe look at some sex toys together - ben wa balls are supposed to work these same muscles, I believe.
posted by lemniskate at 1:30 PM on September 19, 2010

Just as an FYI, kegels alone won't do the trick. In order to have a strong, supple pelvic floor, you need to support those tissues from BOTH sides, both the PC muscles and the glutes. For all you know, she's been kegeling like mad for the past eight years, but hasn't been doing the glute work. Fortunately, the kind of exercise that is good for your glutes is stuff you can do together, which means you can start it and invite her to join along with you.
posted by KathrynT at 2:12 PM on September 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

I don't suppose you'd be into receiving anal, by any chance? The Feeldoe double dildo is said to be specifically designed to be held by the PC muscles. You can get one from Babeland or your local high-end sex shop.
posted by fairytale of los angeles at 2:24 PM on September 19, 2010 [5 favorites]

This certainly seems like an issue for you, and I've been thinking if I were your wife and the mommy of your kids, if there would be any way you could talk to me about this without making me feel...well...pretty miserable.

I think there are 2 big reasons as your wife I'd have a very hard time hearing this: first, I got looser because I had kids. I probably also have some stretch marks and a stomach pooch which I feel somewhat self-conscious about. Sure, I know they're my battle scars from bringing our wonderful kids into the world, but you know, they're still there.

So I honestly can't imagine hearing that I'm a little loose would in any way go over too well, especially because chances are, all the Kegels in the world aren't going to make a dramatic difference after three vaginal deliveries.

In short, I'm already reminded on a daily basis that my body went through three pregnancies, I may not want to hear in any way that now, somehow, part of my body is anything less than super-sexy.

Your wife may be different than me, but if it were me, I'd rather you said nothing. You could try different positions; they can make a difference.
posted by dzaz at 2:27 PM on September 19, 2010 [3 favorites]

"I just passed three items larger than bowling balls through my VAGINA, and you're going to complain that it's not good enough for you any more?"

That's probably what my reaction would be.

But my second reaction would be this, and I'd suggest you consider what your answer is before you ask the question:

There is no guarantee that kegel excercises will solve the problem. What's your solution if you ask her to do these exercises, and she does them, fitting these into her day along with everything else, and they don't solve the problem? What will you do then? Will you leave her? Will you refuse to have sex with her? Will you go elsewhere on the internet and bemoan that the vagina of the mother of your THREE CHILDREN is no longer appealing or arousing to you?

Make sure you have an answer to that. Because you seem to think that kegels are this magic tonic that will solve everything. And what if they're not?
posted by micawber at 4:19 PM on September 19, 2010 [9 favorites]

Micawber said it better than me.
posted by dzaz at 7:09 PM on September 19, 2010

From the OP:
What great responses! AskMe is such an amazing resource.

Jon_Evil: Although I don’t really have any performance issues at this point, I think I will try Kegels. Certainly couldn’t hurt.

Vienaragis, BigRedKittyPurrs and Anitanita: EXCELLENT, excellent advice – focus on the “we.” Thanks.

Griphus and others: My first priority is my wife’s feelings. If I don’t feel this is a subject I can raise sensitively, I won’t raise it all. That’s why I’m asking AskMe: Guess I should have been more clear on that.

Griphus and others: She hasn’t been doing Kegels, she mentioned this.

Kmennie: Oh, we have; just not about this in particular.

Leta: I like your style.

Annsunny: Yeah, sensitive subject! Some responders might at least consider the outside possibility that, this question notwithstanding, the questioner is not a complete jerk.

Sara C: Your points are well taken, but I don’t think Bardolph meant it in a demeaning way. We all experience positive and negative reinforcement every day.

Julthumbscrew: I loved this comment! However, with this person, being passive-aggressive would definitely be a huge mistake.

Kathryn T: Excellent info – thanks!

Dzaz: Very honest, heartfelt advice. Just what I was looking for – thanks.

Micawber: Yikes. To answer your questions, no, no and no. (Dzaz – no, you said it *much* better than Micawber.)

Thanks everyone.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:14 AM on September 20, 2010

I'd be willing to bet that SOME of the problem is that your erections aren't as hard as they used to be.

headspace, as the owner of a 40+year-old penis, I can assure you that the OP can tell the difference between flaccidity and lack of vaginal tightness. They're really not the same feeling at all.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:58 PM on September 20, 2010

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