Nerve Disease and Bladder Control - Kegel Exercises

Describe your experience with Kegel exercises for bladder control. What helpful tips can you provide?

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How do you do Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles that hold up the bladder and keep it closed.

The first step in doing Kegel exercises is to find the right muscles. Imagine you are trying to stop yourself from passing gas. Squeeze the muscles you would use. If you sense a "pulling" feeling, those are the right muscles for pelvic exercises.

Try not to squeeze other muscles at the same time. Be careful not to tighten your stomach, legs, or buttocks. Squeezing the wrong muscles can put more pressure on your bladder control muscles. Just squeeze the pelvic muscles. Don't hold your breath.

At first, find a quiet spot to practice - your bathroom or bedroom - so you can concentrate. Pull in the pelvic muscles and hold for a count of 3. Then relax for a count of 3. Repeat, but don't overdo it. Work up to 3 sets of 10 repeats. Start doing your pelvic muscle exercises lying down. This position is the easiest because the muscles do not need to work against gravity. When your muscles get stronger, do your exercises sitting or standing. Working against gravity is like adding more weight.

Be patient. Don't give up. It takes just 5 minutes a day. You may not feel your bladder control improve for 3 to 6 weeks. Still, most people do notice an improvement after a few weeks.

Some people with nerve damage cannot tell whether they are doing Kegel exercises correctly. If you are not sure, ask your doctor or nurse to examine you while you try to do them. If you are not squeezing the right muscles, you can still learn proper Kegel exercises by doing special training with biofeedback, electrical stimulation, or both.

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