Kegel exercises (Pelvic Floor Muscle Training)
These exercises won’t help you look better, but they do something just as important – strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder. Strong pelvic floor muscles can go a long way toward preventing incontinence.
Why Kegel exercises matter
Many factors can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, including pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging and being overweight.
You might benefit from doing Kegel exercises if you:
• Leak a few drops of urine while sneezing, laughing or coughing
• 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.
How to do Kegel exercises
It takes diligence to identify your pelvic floor muscles and learn how to contract and relax them.
Find the right muscles. To identify your pelvic floor muscles,
• Stop urination in midstream. If you succeed, you’ve got the right muscles.
• Pretend you are trying to avoid passing gas.
• Pretend to tighten your vagina around a tampon.
Perfect your technique. Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder and lie on your back. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds. Try it four or five times in a row. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
Maintain your focus. For best results, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe freely during the exercises.
Repeat 3 times a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day. Spreading them throughout the day is better than doing them all at once.
When to do your Kegels
Make Kegel exercises part of your daily routine. You can do Kegel exercises discreetly just about any time, whether you’re sitting at your desk or relaxing on the couch. You might make a practice of fitting in a set every time you do a routine task, such as checking mail, waiting at a stoplight, riding an elevator, or standing in a grocery line.
When you’re having trouble
If you’re having trouble doing Kegel exercises, don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Your doctor can give you important feedback so that you learn to isolate and exercise the correct muscles.
When to expect results
If you do Kegel exercises regularly, you can expect results — such as less frequent urine leakage — within about a few months. For continued benefits, make Kegel exercises a permanent part of your daily routine.
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).One should seek medical advice in such cases and also if kegels have not benefited or one is not sure of doing these properly.
Dr. Preeti Tandon,
Specialist Obstetrics / Gynecology
MBBS, MD(Obs/Gynae), F.MAS(Laparoscopic Surgeon), FICOG,
Diploma in Adv Gynae Endoscopy (France),
Certified Robotic Surgery Training (USA)