Your doctor is recommending that you do Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. If your pelvic floor is weak, you may feel pressure from sagging organs, or you may experience certain types of incontinence (inability to control urine flow). If you have a type of incontinence called stress incontinence, you may leak urine when you put pressure on your bladder, such as when you lift heavy objects, cough, laugh, sneeze, or get up from a chair. Stress incontinence occurs when the pelvic floor muscles are weak and can't keep the urethra from opening. You may find yourself running to the bathroom as often as you can to avoid an accident. Kegels help strengthen the pelvic floor to better hold organs in place and control your urine flow. A strong pelvic floor may also make sexual intercourse more enjoyable.

Getting Started

Kegel exercises don't require special clothing or equipment. They're easy to learn and simple to do. And if you do them right, no one can tell you're doing them, so they can be done almost anywhere. Your doctor, nurse, or physical therapist can answer any questions you have and help you get started.

How Kegel Exercises Are Done

Try each of the Kegel exercises described below. When you're doing them, try not to move your leg, buttock, or stomach muscles.

  • While you're urinating, try to stop the flow of urine. Start and stop it as often as you can.

  • Contract as if you were stopping your urine stream, but do it when you're not urinating.

  • Tighten your rectum as if trying not to pass gas. Contract your anus, but don't move your buttocks.

Try to hold each Kegel for a slow count to five. You probably won't be able to hold them for that long at first, but keep practicing. It will get easier as your pelvic floor gets stronger. Eventually, special weights that you place in your vagina may be recommended to help make your Kegels even more effective.

Helpful Hints

Here are some tips to help you get the best results from your Kegel exercises:

  • Do your Kegels as often as you can. The more you do them, the faster you'll feel the results.

  • Pick an activity you do often as a reminder. For instance, do your Kegels every time you sit down. Or do them every time the phone rings, at every stoplight, or during every television commercial.

  • Tighten your pelvic floor before you sneeze, get up from a chair, cough, laugh, or lift. This protects your pelvic floor from injury and can help prevent urine leakage.

  • Kegel exercises can help only if you do them regularly, according to your doctor's recommendations.

Remember: You can do Kegel exercises anywhere and anytime. You can do them while you work, while you do chores, while you wait in line, when you're driving, and while you're relaxing at home.

Your Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles. The largest muscle in this group is the pubococcygeus muscle. The pelvic floor muscles support pelvic organs such as the bladder and uterus and hold them in place. They also control the opening and closing of the urethra, the canal that carries urine from the bladder out of your body.

A Weak Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor muscles may weaken due to aging, pregnancy and vaginal childbirth, injury, surgery, chronic cough, or lack of exercise. If the pelvic floor is weak, your bladder and other pelvic organs may sag out of place. The urethra may also open too easily and allow urine to leak out. Kegel exercises can help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles so they can better support the pelvic organs and control urine flow.

Ask your doctor to fill in the schedule like the one above. Follow this schedule closely. And be patient–—it may take a few months before you notice an improvement

Copyright: © 2000-2010 The StayWell Company, 780 Township Line Road, Yardley, PA 19067. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.

Reference: Kidneys and the Urinary System section on Better Medicine

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