Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, the "hammock" of muscles that control the flow of urine and hold the pelvic organs in place.
See a picture of the pelvic floor muscles.
Weakness in the pelvic floor muscles can cause bladder control problems (urinary incontinence) or the sagging of some pelvic organs. Doctors often prescribe Kegel exercises for:
- Stress incontinence in both men and women.
- Urge incontinence in men, a need to urinate that is so strong that you cannot reach the toilet in time.
- Pelvic floor weakness due to childbirth. During pregnancy and delivery, the pelvic floor can become stretched and weakened, commonly causing urine control problems for months to years after childbirth. A weakened pelvic floor can also allow one or more pelvic organs to sag (uterine prolapse). If you are pregnant, start doing daily Kegels and continue them after having your baby.
How to do Kegel exercises
Kegel exercises are easy to do and can be done anywhere without anyone knowing.
- First, as you are sitting or lying down, try to contract the muscles you would use to stop urinating. You should feel your pelvic muscles squeezing your urethra and anus. If your stomach or buttocks muscles tighten, you are not exercising the right muscles.
- When you've found the right way to contract the pelvic muscles, squeeze for 3 seconds and then relax for 3 seconds.
- Repeat this exercise 10 to 15 times each session. Try to do this at least 3 times a day.
Kegel exercises are most effective when done regularly.
Your doctor may want you to try doing your exercises with biofeedback to make sure you are doing them right. Biofeedback allows you to see, feel, or hear when an exercise is being done correctly.
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