Kegel exercises, or pelvic floor exercises, make the pelvic floor stronger.Â This can prevent and treat incontinence and prevent other pelvic floor problems.
If youâ€™re reading this then you may already suffer with some incontinence, so here weâ€™re going to look at:
- your anatomy so that you can locate these muscles and work them effectively,
- how to do the exercises,
- and the other hidden benefits of persisting with the exercises.
Where are the pelvic floor muscles? How do I find them?
The pelvic floor muscles run from the bottom of the front of pelvis (the hip girdle) where your pubic hair is located, to the base of the spine.
Theyâ€™re like a hammock, supporting the organs that sit above them.
The rectum (lower bowel), the urethra (the tube that takes the urine from the bladder to the outside), and the vagina pass downwards through this hammock of muscles.
To find these muscles, think of a time when you really needed to pee but had to wait.Â The muscles youâ€™re clenching now are the pelvic floor muscles.
Next time youâ€™re in the bath or shower, if you put a finger into the vagina and squeeze, you will feel the muscles clenching round your finger.
And when youâ€™re passing urine, try to stop the flow â€“ this means youâ€™re using your pelvic floor muscles.
Practise zipping up these muscles and letting them go so that you now know where they are.
How to do pelvic floor/Kegel exercises.
- The Mayo Clinic recommends that you empty your bladder and lie on your back to do your pelvic floor exercises.
- Squeeze the pelvic floor muscles for 5 seconds and then relax them for 5 seconds.Â Repeat this 4 or 5 times in a row.
- Do this about 3 times daily (and see point 7 below).
- Keep practising until you can hold the contraction for 10 seconds.Â Then relax for 10 seconds.Â Repeat this 4-5 times.
- Avoid squeezing your stomach or buttock muscles at the same time â€“ just focus on the pelvic floor.
- Remember to breath while youâ€™re doing the exercises.
- You can practise these exercises wherever you are, and you donâ€™t have to lie down. Â Simply locate the muscles, squeeze, relax and repeat when youâ€™re sitting or standing during the day.Â No one will know youâ€™re doing them.
Some companies make products that are designed to improve the effectiveness of these exercises.Â Kegel8 is an example of these and gets very good reviews from users on independent sites such as TrustPilot and Amazon.
When will I feel an improvement in my pelvic floor?
Persistence is key.Â Do the exercises as above and make them part of your every day routine.
They will take a few months to give a noticeable improvement.Â Itâ€™s like any other muscle group in the body and will take a little time to get toned.
Why should I persist with my pelvic floor exercises?
As well as an improvement in your continence â€“ both bladder and bowel continence â€“ so that you no longer have any leaks, there are a couple of other benefits:
- You can protect yourself from other pelvic problems such as prolapse of the vagina, uterus or bowel.
- You may notice an improvement in sensation when you orgasm.
- For more information about all types of incontinence look at: Â intimatehealthhelp.net/dealing-with-urinary-incontinence
- Visit the Mayo Clinic’s guide to Kegel’s: Â here.
- More tips from Frederick Jelovsek, MD: Â here.
Temirah is a nurse with over 20 yearsâ€™ experience. She writes for national and international nursing and medical publications, as well as her own health websites (see above) and ModernHealthandFitness.com