What are pelvic floor exercises?
Kegel muscles are the different muscles and groups of tissue that make up the pelvic floor. Pelvic floor exercises were originally developed by Dr Arnold Kegel in the late 1940s as a way of increasing the strength of the pelvic floor, for the purpose of curing incontinence.
How can they help?
Incontinence is a common problem that is found in one in five women. It involves the involuntary flow of urine as a result of weakened pelvic floor muscles. Pelvic floor exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which can often solve incontinence problems. Pelvic floor exercises can also help women to regain sexual drive as well as increase the intensity of organisms. Pelvic floor exercises can help solve problems associated with pelvic floor prolapse.
Pelvic floor exercises are well regarded and are considered to be the most effective way of combating issues such as incontinence.
How long does it take?
There is, sadly, no definite time for pelvic floor exercises to start working as it varies from person to person. In some women, results may be seen after a few weeks. Other women may have to wait several months for strong effects to become apparent.
The time for pelvic floor exercises to take effect is also dependent on how hard you work at maintaining regular kegel exercises. To add to this, the effectiveness of the exercise done plays a major role; by simply performing the exercises correctly you will naturally catalyse the wait time.
Seeing a doctor
Seeing a doctor need not be embarrassing. Doctors are trained to deal with sensitive issues, and they are there to help. It is also likely that there is an underlying problem behind your incontinence (if that is the reason you’re doing pelvic floor exercises), which needs to be addressed. This is because incontinence is only a symptom of a larger issue.
Your doctor may also be able to suggest options better than pelvic floor exercises. Pelvic floor exercises are the most natural, safe and effective way of combating problems like incontinence and prolapse, but sometimes the issue is too severe and biofeedback and electrical stimulation needs to take place. Once again, please see your doctor before making and personal assumptions about your condition.
Here’s a detailed breakdown of how to perform pelvic floor exercises.
Step one: finding the right muscle
Most women (one in three) start pelvic floor exercises wrong by focusing on the wrong muscle. In order to find the right muscle, insert one finger into your vagina and squeeze until you can see pressure. If this doesn’t make it clear, try stopping urinating half way through. The muscle that contracts during this process is the muscle you want to contract during pelvic floor exercises.
Step two: working on your technique
Now that you have found the right muscle, you need to squeeze it as hard as you can (without causing pain). For pelvic floor exercises to work properly, you will need to hold it for as long as possible. It is common for women to not be able to hold the contraction for very long, but after time your ability will improve and you’ll be able to increase the length at which you hold the contraction.
Step three: working in sets
Pelvic floor exercises are best performed in sets of 3 or 4. You will also need to try to perform them throughout the day – 4 times a day is advisable. Working in sets promotes muscle growth, which is essentially what you’re trying to achieve.
Step four: getting into a routine
As previously mentioned, pelvic floor exercises need to be performed for an extended period of time. Therefore, you need to get into a sustainable routine so that you can continue performing them.
The good news is that pelvic floor exercises can be done anywhere and they do not take very much time to do, making it easy to slot into your daily routine. It is important to remember though that although pelvic floor exercises can be done anywhere quickly and easily, they can also be done poorly if attention is not given to them. Make sure that you are actually exercising the muscle you first identified, not other muscles such as the abdomen and buttocks.