Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. You can do Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training, just about anytime. 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
Many factors can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, including pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight.
You might benefit from doing Kegel exercises if you:
- Leak a few drops of urine while sneezing, laughing or coughing (stress incontinence)
- Have a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before losing a large amount of urine (urinary incontinence)
- Leak stool (fecal incontinence)
- Kegel exercises can be done during pregnancy or after childbirth to try to prevent urinary incontinence.
Keep in mind that Kegel exercises are less helpful for women who have severe urine leakage when they sneeze, cough or laugh. Also, Kegel exercises aren't helpful for women who unexpectedly leak small amounts of urine due to a full bladder (overflow incontinence).
Male urinary incontinence is both preventable and manageable. Kegel exercises can help you take control of your leaky bladder. If you practice Kegel exercises (also called pelvic floor exercises) for five minutes, two or three times daily, you will likely see significant improvement in your ability to control urinary leakage. Another bonus: Kegel exercises can also help you have more intense orgasms, and improve erections.
DBM Protocol – Adjunct Therapy - PFE - Women
Use the Correct Muscles
The goal is to squeeze the muscles around your vagina and anus. These are the muscles you use to prevent gas from passing, stop the flow of urine and the muscles that contract during orgasm.
Contract the Correct Muscles
Think about trying to pull the muscles up and in (if your pelvic floor is weak, you will only faintly feel this contraction). You'll know you're doing these exercises correctly if you feel the muscles tightening but don't have movement in your abs or buttocks. Isolate your pelvic floor so if somebody looked at you while you were doing the exercise, they wouldn't think you were moving at all. Don't hold your breath (you should be able to talk easily at the same time) tighten your abdomen, thigh or buttock muscles squeeze your legs together
Types of Contractions
The type of contraction that you use will determine the effect that you experience.
- Slow contractions help to increase the strength of your pelvic floor. They help your muscles to hold back the urine.
- Lift your pelvic floor muscles to a count of ten.
- Hold the muscles tight for 10 seconds. You may find at first that you can only hold the contraction for one or two seconds, so concentrate on lifting your muscles and holding the contraction for as long as you can. Gradually increase the time until you reach 10 seconds.
- Relax your muscles and rest for 10 seconds.
- Repeat the contractions up to 10 times.
- Fast contractions help your pelvic floor to cope with pressure, for example when you sneeze, cough or laugh. This works the muscles that quickly shut off the flow of urine.
- Lift your pelvic floor muscles quickly.
- Hold the contraction for one second.
- Relax the muscles and rest for one second.
- Repeat the contractions 10 times.
Frequency of Exercises
- Try to do one set of slow contractions and one set of fast contractions six times a day when treating stress incontinence.
- Doing a fast contraction just before you cough, sneeze or laugh can prove very beneficial. Doing a fast contraction just before you get out of a chair can also be beneficial as the movement of getting up puts pressure on your bladder and pelvic floor.
- To strengthen the pelvic floor muscles in the absence of symptoms, do slow contractions 10 times, 3 times per day, three times per week.
To know if you are doing them correctly
- Put a couple of fingers into your vagina. You should feel a gentle squeeze when doing the exercise.
- ·Put your hands on your abdomen and buttocks to make sure you can’t feel your belly, thighs, or buttocks moving.
There are several other simple exercises both men and women can do to ensure continued health of the pelvic floor muscles.
You may initially practice Kegels by stopping the flow of urine while going to the bathroom, but it is not advised to do this frequently as stopping the flow of urine can cause backflow which may cause a urinary tract infection and can disrupt your pelvic muscle coordination.
DBM Protocol – Adjunct Therapy - PFE - Men
Kegels are easy to do, once you know which muscles to target. One of the easiest ways to locate your muscles is during urination.
- Halfway through urination, try to stop or slow down the flow of urine.
- Don’t tense the muscles in your buttocks, legs, or abdomen, and don’t hold your breath.
- When you can slow or stop the flow of urine, you’ve successfully located these muscles.
Some men find these muscles by imagining that they are trying to stop the passage of gas. Squeezing these muscles gives a pulling sensation; these are the right muscles for pelvic exercises. It's important not to contract other muscles.
Some men need biofeedback to help them target the right muscles.
Frequency of Exercises
- Contract these muscles for a slow count of five.
- Release the muscles to a slow count of five.
- Repeat 10 times.
- Do a set of 10 Kegels daily, three times a day.
When you’re first starting, it may be easier to do Kegel exercises lying down, so your muscles aren’t fighting against gravity. It may also be easier to contract the muscles for just two or three seconds at first.
After a few weeks, increase the time until eventually you’re contracting the muscles for a slow five or 10 seconds, and do the exercises standing up. That puts more weight on the muscles, boosting your workout and improving your control. Remember not to tense your buttock, legs, or stomach muscles while you’re doing Kegels.
When Will You See Results from Kegel Exercises?
Seeing results with any exercise takes time, so be patient. If you do Kegels three times a day, you should see better bladder control in three to six weeks -- some men see it even sooner. Try keeping a record of your urine leakage each day to help you notice improvements.
If you don’t see any change in a month, you may not have located the right muscles for Kegel exercises. Give your doctor or urologist a call. They can offer tips on how to find and successfully exercise the right muscles.