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Kegel Exercises

IMAGE Kegel exercises are exercises that can help women strengthen the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that support the urethra, bladder, uterus, and rectum). They are a type of pelvic floor muscle training. Stronger pelvic floor muscles can help reduce urine leakage associated with urinary incontinence. These muscles can become weak over time or can be affected by childbirth.
It can take 3-6 weeks for kegel exercises to make changes, so be patient. Fortunately, these exercises can be done anytime, anywhere so they are an easy habit to pick up.

Simple, Risk-free, and Painless

Kegel exercises are very simple, risk-free, and painless. They involve squeezing the pelvic floor muscles.

Identifying the Correct Muscles

It may be difficult to initially identify the correct muscles. You may mistake contractions of your abdominal or thigh muscles as pelvic floor muscle movements. Here are some tips to help you identify the correct muscles:
  • Sit on the toilet and place one finger in your vagina. Squeeze your finger with your vaginal muscle. You should be able to feel the muscle tighten around your finger.
  • While urinating, stop the flow of urine midstream by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. Only do this to learn what the muscles feel like. Do not do this repeatedly.
  • Imagine that a tampon is going to fall out of your vagina. Tighten your pelvic muscles in order to hang onto it.
  • Imagine that you are trying hard not to urinate or pass gas. Squeeze those muscles.
The muscles you tighten are the muscles you should contract during Kegel exercises. If you continue to have problems identifying these muscles, talk to your doctor or nurse.

Doing the Exercises

Once you have identified your pelvic floor muscles, you are ready to begin doing Kegel exercises. These muscles will react to exercise like any other muscle. You may experience very mild muscle soreness when you first begin doing these exercises. If you do too many exercises before you are ready, however, you might experience more pronounced muscle soreness and fatigue.
Things to Remember
  • Do not do these exercises while urinating. It can interrupt the flow of urine which may lead to other problems.
  • Empty your bladder before beginning the exercises.
  • Keep your abdominal and thigh muscles relaxed.
  • Draw the muscles up and in. Do not strain down with your abdomen.
  • Breathe while holding the muscles contracted.
  • Try to get the maximum tightening with each muscle contraction.
  • Try contracting the muscles while you are in different positions. Try it while you are standing, sitting, lying, and with your feet together and apart.

How to do Kegel Exercises

  1. Lie on the floor. Choose a place that is comfortable, such as in your bedroom.
  2. Find your pelvic floor muscles. Again, to do this pretend you are trying to stop urinating or passing gas.
  3. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, hold, and count to three.
  4. Relax for a count of three.
  5. Squeeze again for three counts, then relax for three counts. Do this 10-15 times.
Once you are comfortable with the exercise, you can do them for five minutes, three times a day. You can do them lying down, sitting, and standing.

Making Kegel Exercises a Habit

The following tips may help you remember to do your Kegel exercises:
  • Try to schedule your Kegel exercises at the same time every day, such as during a regular TV show, while you do the dishes, or before you go to bed.
  • Find a way to remind yourself to do your Kegel exercises. For example, you could put a note or sign on your mirror or refrigerator.
  • Reward yourself for each day that you do your Kegel exercises. For example, you could put a gold star on your calendar.
  • You may forget to do your exercises for a few days. It is common to have a few slips when you are trying to make any new change. Do not get discouraged. Just get back to your exercise program.
  • Chart your progress on a daily or weekly basis. Eventually, you should begin to notice that you are “leaking” urine less frequently or in smaller amounts than before.
Loss of bladder control is common, especially as you get older. Kegel exercises offer you the benefit of trying to solve the problem without medical treatment. A few minutes a day, a few times a day may make a big difference. Keep them up because you will only benefit from these exercises if you continue to do them.
Loss of bladder control is common, especially as you get older. Kegel exercises offer you the benefit of trying to solve the problem without medical treatment. A few minutes a day, a few times a day may make a big difference. Keep them up because you will only benefit from these exercises if you continue to do them.

RESOURCES

National Library of Medicine http://www.nlm.nih.gov/

Society of Gynecological Surgeons http://www.sgsonline.org/

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Health Canada http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/index%5Fe.html/

Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca/

References

Urinary Incontinence—Female. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated September 27, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.

Jelovsek FR. How to do pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegel’s). Society of Gynecological Surgeons Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.sgsonline.org/sgsinc/patiented/educate%5Farticles/edpi002.htm. Accessed on November 28, 2012.

Kegel Exercise Tips. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/bcw%5Fez/insertC.aspx. Updated March 28, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.

Urinary Incontinence in Women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated November 27, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.

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