Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training, are designed to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor muscles hold up your bladder. They also support the uterus and bowel (large intestine). Kegel exercises can help men and women who have problems leaking urine or stool (feces).
In women, the pelvic muscles can get weak from pregnancy and childbirth. In men and women, certain types of surgery, older age and being overweight can add to weakened pelvic floor muscles. The good news is anyone can do Kegel exercises at any time and in any place. Learn how to get started.
First, find the right muscles. Both men and women can picture they're trying to stop passing gas. Squeeze the muscles you would use to stop gas. If you sense a "pulling" feeling, then you're squeezing the right muscles. For women, picture you're sitting on top of a marble and want to pick up it with your vagina. Imagine "sucking" that marble into your vagina. Those are the right pelvic muscles. Another option for women is to put a finger inside the vagina and squeeze as if you were trying to stop urine from coming out. If you feel tightness on your finger, then you're squeezing the right pelvic muscles.
People should do Kegel exercises 3 times a day. These tips may help.
- Make sure your bladder is empty and then stand, sit or lie down. Changing positions will make the pelvic floor muscles the strongest.
- Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold tight and count to 8.
- Relax the muscles and count to 10.
- Repeat 10 to 15 times
- Make sure you're not tightening your stomach, thigh, buttock, or chest muscles.
- Avoid doing Kegel exercises while you urinate. This can weaken your pelvic floor muscles and cause damage to your bladder and kidneys.
- Hang in there and stay encouraged.
After about 4 to 6 weeks, you should feel better and have fewer symptoms. Consistency is important. You don't have to increase the number of Kegel exercises you do over time. In fact, overdoing it can lead to straining when you urinate or move your bowels.
Contact your health care provider if you need help or have questions. In some cases, patients may be referred to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor exercises.