When you think about strengthening and toning your muscles, you probably think about the ones you can see. But there’s a less obvious group of muscles that needs to be strengthened so your body can perform a wide range of functions: your pelvic floor. At The Woman’s Center, Ryan Stratford, MD, MBA, FACOG, and Kelly Kantartzis, MD, MS, FACOG, teach you pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, so you can eliminate urinary incontinence, keep your organs in the right places, and enjoy more vaginal tightness. To get started, call the office or book your appointment online at their Phoenix-area practice in Mesa, Arizona.
What are pelvic floor exercises?
Pelvic floor exercises are exactly what they sound like. These exercises are aimed at strengthening your pelvic floor, the group of muscles that spans the bottom of your pelvis.
Often overlooked, these muscles are a workhorse. They help your urethra seal shut so you don’t experience the leakage of any urine. They also help seal up the rectum so that you don’t experience leakage of stool.
This group of muscles help hold your organs in place, avoiding prolapse, or the condition in which organs like your uterus or rectum can drop out of position and bulge into the lower part of your body. They also help keep the vagina tight so you enjoy maximal sensation during intercourse.
Pelvic floor exercises are effective in treating:
- Stress urinary incontinence
- Urge urinary incontinence
- Fecal incontinence
- Difficulty with urination
- Vaginal laxity
How do I do Kegel exercises?
Sit comfortably. Relax your muscles and take steady, even breaths. Now, tighten and lift through your pelvic region. You should feel like you’re cutting off a stream of urine and preventing yourself from flatulating. Hold this tightness, then release. You’ve just done a Kegel.
To ensure you’re doing your Kegel exercises correctly, it can be helpful to use a mirror. You should see your vagina and anus tightening and drawing upward as you perform each Kegel.
Commonly, injuries to the pelvic floor muscles and nerves within those muscles that occur during childbirth make it hard to contract or engage those muscles, leaving them prone to weakness and injury. Having computer-guided biofeedback can help restore your ability to use your pelvic floor muscles and fully recover their function.
How often should I be doing Kegel exercises?
To keep your pelvic floor strong and supportive, perform your pelvic floor exercises a few times a day. Aim to be performing about 12 Kegels, two different types, some for around 10 seconds in length and others on and off as fast as you can, three times a day.
With this pelvic floor exercise regimen, you support your pelvic organs, increase control of your bladder and bowel, and prevent vaginal laxity.
If you’re doing pelvic floor exercises to treat stress urinary incontinence, it’s important to stick with your routine. You wouldn’t expect to get six-pack abs overnight. Your pelvic floor takes time to strengthen, too.
Many women notice an increase in bladder control within 3-6 weeks of regularly doing Kegels, but it may take up to six months to fully strengthen your pelvic floor.
It’s worth the effort. With this simple exercise, you can treat a range of pelvic conditions without the need for surgery.
To learn more or to have an expert from The Woman’s Center staff show you how to properly perform a Kegel, call them or schedule your appointment online.