Pelvic Floor Exercises
Kegels Exercises For Women
A kegel is the name of a pelvic floor exercise, named after Dr. Kegel who discovered the exercise. These muscles are attached to the pelvic bone and act like a hammock, holding in your pelvic organs. To isolate these muscles try stopping and starting the flow of urine. Involuntary leakage of urine (urinary incontinence) is the bane of many of us who’ve reached our 40’s — and often affects younger women, too. Decreasing levels of estrogen can weaken the muscles that have control over the urethra (the tube carrying urine from the bladder to the outside of the body). Other factors, such as weight gain as we get older, can make incontinence worse.
What Are Kegel Exercises for Women?
Kegel, or pelvic floor muscle exercises are done to strengthen the muscles which support the urethra, bladder, uterus and rectum.
Why Do Kegel Exercises?
Often the pelvic floor muscles are weak which contributes to problems with losing urine. Doing the exercises correctly and regularly with resistance can strengthen the muscles. Stronger muscles lead to little or no urine loss for many women.
How Do I Do Them?
Over one-third of women start out squeezing the wrong muscles. Therefore, it is helpful to work with a doctor or nurse who can teach you the correct technique. You can also check yourself by placing a finger in your vagina and squeezing around it. When you feel pressure around your finger, you are using the correct muscle. Try to keep everything relaxed except the muscles right around the vagina. At the same time, do not bear down or squeeze your thigh, back or abdominal muscles. Breathe slowly and deeply. At first you can do the exercises with your knees together (lying or sitting).
How Often Should I Do The Exercises?
Be sure you are doing them correctly before you start. We recommend doing the exercises for five minutes twice a day. You should squeeze the muscle for a count of four and relax for a count of four. At first, you may not be able to do the exercises for a whole five minutes or hold the squeeze for a count of four. With practice it will become easier as the muscles get stronger.
When Should I Expect Improvement In My Symptoms?
It takes from six to twelve weeks for most women to notice a change in urine loss. Remember, if you do the exercises with resistance regularly you could see results sooner and prevent stress incontinence.
How Should I Do The Exercises?
If you read that these exercises can be done anywhere, anytime – that is not necessarily true. We have studied different ways of doing the exercises to see what works best to decrease urine loss. What we found worked best was five minute sessions done twice a day. Many women report that five minutes before they get up in the morning and five minutes before they sleep is a helpful routine.
Is There Anything I Should Change Once The Exercises Become Easy?
Once the exercises become easy, you can further strengthen the muscles by squeezing to a count of eight and relaxing to a count of eight with our recommended resistance exerciser. Repeat this for five minutes two times a day. It will also work the muscle more to do the exercises with your knees apart.
How Long Do I Have To Do The Exercises?
Once you have attained your goal, you can do the exercises for five minutes three times a week. If you start having problems again with urine loss, you may need to go back to five minutes two times a day.
Benefits of Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that support the urethra, bladder, uterus, and rectum). They are also called pelvic floor muscle exercises.
Kegel exercises are usually recommended for women with urinary or “stress” incontinence. Urinary incontinence often follows childbirth or menopause.
You may experience the following benefits if you do Kegel exercises on a regular basis:
Stronger pelvic muscles
Reduced urinary incontinence and “leaking” of urine
Increased pleasure with sexual activity
How to Do Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are very simple, risk-free, and painless. They involve squeezing the pelvic floor muscles. They can be done any time, anywhere.
Identifying the Correct Muscles
Some women initially have difficulty identifying the correct muscles. They contract their abdominal or thigh muscles instead of their pelvic floor muscles.
Tips on identifying the correct muscles:
Sit on the toilet and place one finger in your vagina. Squeeze your finger with your vaginal muscle. You should be able to feel the muscle tighten around your finger.
While urinating, stop the flow of urine midstream by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. Do not do this repeatedly.
Imagine that a tampon is going to fall out of your vagina. Tighten your pelvic muscles in order to hang onto it.
Imagine that you are trying hard not to urinate or pass gas. Squeeze those muscles.
The muscles you tighten are the muscles you should contract during Kegel exercises. If you continue to have problems identifying these muscles, talk to your doctor or nurse.
Doing the Exercises
Once you have identified your pelvic floor muscles, you are ready to begin doing Kegel exercises. You may experience very mild muscle soreness when you first begin doing these exercises. If you do too many exercises before you are ready, however, you might experience more pronounced muscle soreness and fatigue. Starting out at the maximum number of exercises is not recommended.