What are pelvic muscles and how can I exercise them?
The pelvic floor muscles make up the floor of the pelvis and support the organs and the uterus inside the pelvis. They work to control the release of urine. The weight of a baby can stretch these muscles in a woman and may cause you to urinate when you cough, sneeze or laugh. The loosening of pelvic muscles can also affect sex life. Women can improve urinary control through pelvic muscle exercises, which are also known as Kegel exercises.
Kegel exercises are exercises that strengthen the muscles that control the flow of urine and bowel movements. They can help keep you from leaking urine, gas, or stool.
How are Kegel exercises performed?
It takes some practice to identify your pelvic floor muscles and learn how to contract and relax them. Here are some pointers:
Find the right muscles
To make sure you know how to contract your pelvic floor muscles, try the following:
1. Stop the flow of urine while you’re going to the bathroom. If you succeed, you have the basic movement of the exercise.
2. Another technique is to insert a finger inside your vagina and try to squeeze the surrounding muscles. You should be able to feel your vagina tighten and your pelvic floor move upward. Then relax your muscles and feel your pelvic floor move back down to the starting position.
As your muscles become stronger and you become more experienced with the exercises, this movement will be more pronounced.
Remember not to make a habit of starting and stopping your urine stream. Doing Kegel exercises with a full bladder or while emptying your bladder can actually weaken these muscles. It can also lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder, which increases your risk of a urinary tract infection.
If you’re having trouble finding the right muscles, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Your doctor or other healthcare provider can give you important feedback so that you learn to isolate and exercise the correct muscles.
Perfect your technique
Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder and sit or lie down. Then:
To get the maximum benefit, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles or isolating your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Also, try not to hold your breath. Just relax, breathe freely and focus on tightening the muscles around your vagina and rectum.
How often should I do these exercises?
Perform a set of 10 Kegel exercises three times a day. The exercises will get easier the more often you do them. You might make a practice of fitting in a set every time you do a routine task, such as checking email or commuting to work.
Vary your technique with one of these methods:
Try sets of mini Kegels. Count quickly to 10 or 20, contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles each time you say a number.
How do Kegel exercises help?
Studies have shown that, if done correctly, Kegel exercises can help:
●Reduce urine leaks in people who have “stress incontinence,” which means they leak urine when they cough, laugh, sneeze, or otherwise strain themselves
●Control sudden urges to urinate that happen to people with “urgency incontinence.”
●Control the release of gas or bowel movements
●Improve sex life
●Reduce pressure or bulging in the vagina caused by pelvic organ prolapse (if you have a bulge in your vagina, consult with your physician to determine the cause)
Most people notice an improvement after three to four months of practicing pelvic muscle exercises. If these exercises are not helpful, please speak with your healthcare provider. Other treatments are available and may be recommended.
If you have been doing these exercises during your pregnancy, you will notice the difference.