Kegel exercises can help you prevent or control urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor problems. Here's a step-by-step guide to doing Kegel exercises correctly.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder and bowel. You can do Kegel exercises discreetly just about anytime, whether you're driving in your car, sitting at your desk or relaxing on the couch. You can even do Kegel exercises when you're pregnant. Start by understanding what Kegel exercises can do for you — then follow step-by-step instructions for contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.
Why Kegel exercises matter
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Many factors can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, from pregnancy and childbirth to aging and being overweight. This may allow your pelvic organs to descend and bulge into your vagina — a condition known as pelvic organ prolapse. The effects of pelvic organ prolapse range from uncomfortable pelvic pressure to leakage of urine. Pelvic organ prolapse isn't inevitable, however. Kegel exercises can help delay or even prevent pelvic organ prolapse and the related symptoms.
How to do Kegel exercises
It takes diligence to identify your pelvic floor muscles and learn how to contract and relax them. Here are some pointers:
When you're having trouble
If you're having trouble doing Kegel exercises, don't be embarrassed to ask for help. Your doctor or other health care provider can give you important feedback so that you learn to isolate and exercise the correct muscles.
In some cases, biofeedback training may help. During a biofeedback session, your doctor or other health care provider inserts a small monitoring probe into your vagina or places adhesive electrodes on the skin outside your vagina or anus. When you contract your pelvic floor muscles, you'll see a measurement on a monitor that lets you know whether you've successfully contracted the right muscles. You'll also be able to see how long you hold the contraction.
If necessary, electrical stimulation is sometimes an option. During this procedure, your doctor or other health care provider applies a small electrical current to your pelvic floor muscles. The current makes the muscles contract, which produces a buzzing feeling. Once you get used to the sensation, you'll probably be able to duplicate the exercise on your own.
When to expect results
If you do your Kegel exercises faithfully, you can expect to see results — such as less frequent urine leakage — within about eight to 12 weeks. For some women, the improvement is dramatic. For others, Kegel exercises simply keep problems from getting any worse. For continued benefits, make Kegel exercises a permanent part of your daily routine.