What is pelvic floor (kegel) exercise?

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Kegel exercises: Overview

Kegel exercises strengthen muscles around the bladder. These muscles control the flow of urine. Kegel exercises are sometime called "pelvic floor" exercises. They can help prevent urine leakage and keep the pelvic organs in place.

Kegel exercises can strengthen pelvic muscles that have been weakened by age, pregnancy, childbirth, and surgery. They may help prevent or treat urine leakage.

You do Kegel exercises by squeezing your pelvic floor muscles. You will likely need to do these exercises for several weeks to get better.

Kegel exercises

Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic muscles and ligaments to treat and prevent urinary incontinence, fecal incontinence, and other problems caused by having weak pelvic floor muscles.

To do Kegel exercises:

  • Squeeze your muscles as if you were trying not to pass gas. Or squeeze your muscles as if you were stopping the flow of urine. Your belly, legs, and buttocks shouldn't move.
  • Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, then relax for 5 to 10 seconds.
  • Start with 3 seconds, then add 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise 10 times a session. Do 3 to 8 sessions a day.

When learning what muscles to squeeze, you can try stopping the flow of urine a few times. But don't make it a practice to do Kegels while urinating.

If doing these exercises causes pain, stop doing them and talk with your doctor. Sometimes people have pelvic floor muscles that are too tight. In these cases, doing Kegel exercises may cause more problems.

If you aren't sure how to do these exercises, talk to your doctor about getting a referral to a pelvic floor physical therapist.

Pregnancy: How to do Kegel exercises to prevent urine from leaking

Kegel exercises strengthen the muscles around your bladder. These muscles control the flow of urine. Kegel exercises can help prevent urine from leaking.

You can do Kegel exercises while you stand or sit.

  1. Squeeze your muscles as if you were trying not to pass gas. Or squeeze your muscles as if you were stopping the flow of urine.

    Don't move your belly, legs, or buttocks.

  2. Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, and then relax for 5 to 10 seconds.
  3. Repeat the exercise 10 times per session.

    Do 3 to 8 sessions each day.

  4. Gradually increase how long you squeeze.

    Start with 3 seconds. Then add 1 second each week until you are able to squeeze for 10 seconds.

    If doing these exercises causes pain, stop doing them and talk with your doctor.

    Don't make it a practice to do Kegels while urinating. That's because, over time, doing this could hurt your bladder.

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