Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. You can do Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle training, just about anytime.
Start by understanding what Kegel exercises can do for you — then follow these instructions for contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles.
Many factors can weaken your pelvic floor muscles, including pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, and being overweight.
You might benefit from doing Kegel exercises if you:
Kegel exercises can also be done during pregnancy or after childbirth to try to improve your symptoms.
The exercises are less helpful for women who have severe urine leakage when they sneeze, cough or laugh. Also, Kegel exercises aren't helpful for women who unexpectedly leak small amounts of urine due to a full bladder (overflow incontinence).
To get started:
Don't make a habit of using Kegel exercises to start and stop your urine stream. 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.
Make Kegel exercises part of your daily routine. You can do Kegel exercises discreetly just about any time, whether you're sitting at your desk or relaxing on the couch.
If you're having trouble doing Kegel exercises, don't be embarrassed to ask for help. Your health care provider can give you important feedback so that you learn to isolate and exercise the correct muscles.
In some cases, vaginal weighted cones or biofeedback might help. To use a vaginal cone, you insert it into your vagina and use pelvic muscle contractions to hold it in place during your daily activities. During a biofeedback session, your doctor or other health care provider inserts a pressure sensor into your vagina or rectum. As you relax and contract your pelvic floor muscles, a monitor will measure and display your pelvic floor activity.
If you do Kegel exercises regularly, you can expect results — such as less frequent urine leakage — within about a few weeks to a few months. For continued benefits, make Kegel exercises a permanent part of your daily routine.