Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. Many factors can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, including pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight. Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training, can be done anytime throughout the day.
Studies have shown that women who do Kegels regularly have significantly less urinary leakage.
There may also be some benefit in reducing pushing time in labour.
How to do Kegel exercises:
- Find the muscles you use to stop urinating.
- Squeeze these muscles for 3 seconds. Then relax for 3 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.
- 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 this exercise 10 to 15 times per session. Repeat three times a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10 repetitions a day.
- Do not do Kegels while you urinate. Doing Kegel exercises while emptying your bladder can actually lead to incomplete emptying of the bladder, which increases the risk of a urinary tract infection.
If you are having trouble doing Kegel exercises, 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.