pelvic floor exercises
Properly perform pelvic floor exercises by contracting the muscles in your vagina, bladder or anus. You can practice this Kegel exercise anywhere.

Pelvic floor exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This muscle training is most often beneficial for women after pregnancy or those with uterine or cervical prolapse or even urinary incontinence. It may also help men with retrograde ejaculation in some cases as well.

Once you know you can contract the pelvic floor muscles, you can start performing your Kegel exercise. Initially, you can perform Kegel exercises anywhere, while lying on a bed or sitting in a chair. As you get comfortable, you can practice it even in a standing position.

Steps of performing Kegel exercise

  1. Breathe in deeply as you contract your pelvic floor muscles, feeling your abdomen filling in with air.
  2. Try holding this position for three to six seconds.
  3. Breathe out as you release the contracted pelvic floor muscles and let the set of muscles relax for six seconds or longer.
  4. Do this 10 times at a stretch for one set.

If you can contract your pelvic floor muscles for six seconds without feeling tired, you can increase the duration by holding the contractions for up to 10 seconds. This should be followed by relaxing your muscles for 10 seconds.

Keep breathing as you perform the Kegel exercise.

What are pelvic floor muscles?

Your pelvic floor muscles form the bottom portion that helps support your pelvic organs, such as the uterus, bladder and bowel. These muscles aid in bladder control, helping you hold urine until you go to the washroom, which is meant to prevent leakage.

Controlling your flow of urine is crucial for women’s health, especially those suffering from urinary incontinence. Additionally, the Kegel exercises to aid in more powerful orgasms and help you pass stools and gases.

How do you identify pelvic floor muscles?

Imagine you have the urge to urinate. Now, try contracting the muscles you would normally contract while trying to control your flow of urine. (However, do not practice this technique when your bladder is full and when you are passing urine.) Try holding this pose for five seconds, and then let go.

Now, imagine you are about to have a bowel movement and try contracting the muscles that control this movement. The muscles of your buttock, abdomen and inner thighs should not contract and your pelvis should not lift. If this happens, it means you are not contracting your pelvic floor muscles but your buttocks.

To know whether you are contracting the wrong muscles (muscles other than that of the pelvic floor), place one hand on your stomach and your other hand under your buttocks or on your leg. If you feel contractions in the muscles of the abdomen, buttocks or thighs while you are trying to squeeze pelvic floor muscles, you are not doing pelvic floor exercises correctly.

When should you contact your doctor?

If you feel pain while performing the Kegel exercise or in your pelvis, stop. This exercise is not for everyone. Contact your doctor if you find difficulty performing this exercise. You may not be performing it correctly or it may not be suitable for you.

Additionally, you should seek help if you experience a pelvic organ prolapse, which can result from any woman's health condition that puts stress on the pelvic floor muscles, such as pregnancy or being overweight. Such a condition can lead to leakage of urine and feces, as well as a loss of sexual sensitivity in your vagina. 

Get useful knowledge from a physical therapist who is trained in teaching pelvic floor muscle exercises by asking your doctor to refer you to one.

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Medically Reviewed on 9/1/2021
References
Mayo Clinic. Kegel exercises: A how-to guide for women. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/kegel-exercises/art-20045283

Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Pelvic Floor Muscle (Kegel) Exercises for Women to Improve Sexual Health. https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/patient-education/pelvic-floor-muscle-kegel-exercises-women-improve-sexual-health