Type “Kegel” into any internet search engine and you’ll find hundreds of listings providing qualified advice. You’re also likely to encounter scientific sounding sales pitches, miracle tightening creams and any number of pseudo-medical devices in all shapes and sizes.
The most effective nonsurgical treatment for pelvic floor disorders, including treatment for incontinence and the prevention of pelvic organ prolapse, are Kegel exercises. While symptoms begin to show up in many women who’ve reached their 40’s, younger women can be affected too.
We’d like to share this excellent article written by Dr. Lauri Romanzi. She is a board certified Fellow of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (FACOG) and a fellowship trained in Urogynecologist, with permission:
KEGEL EXERCISE: THE FACTS
by Lauri Romanzi, MD
If you have a vagina and you’re old enough to vote, then Kegel Exercise belongs in your feminine fitness daily routine. Before you dive into pelvic fitness, it’s important to know what Kegel muscles actually DO. Kegels -or the levator ani muscles- wrap around a woman’s most important parts: her bladder, vagina, and rectum.
Research shows that toned levator ani muscles can reduce urinary incontinence, prevent problems with vaginal laxity and help a woman achieve a stronger orgasm. Clinicians and researchers in urogynecology also suspect, but have yet to prove, that these muscles help prevent pelvic organ prolapse, a condition in which a woman’s bladder, rectum, or uterus falls into her vagina.
For women looking to live their best lives, strengthening your Kegel muscles -or pelvic floor fitness- just makes sense.
HOW TO CHECK YOUR KEGEL EXERCISE ACCURACY:
To get started, sit in bed relaxed against pillows, knees up and separated, using a hand mirror to look at your perineum, which is the skin between your anus and vagina.
Pull in using the muscles you use to urinate, as if you’re trying to stop urine midstream.
If you’re Kegeling correctly, you’ll see your perineum retract into your body.
You should feel the pull in your urethra and anus, NOT your butt or abs.
If you have trouble with proper Kegeling, talk to your gynecologist about pelvic floor physical therapy.
Pelvic floor physical therapy involves working with a Kegel coach, using biofeedback, and/or pelvic muscle electrical stimulation, each designed to “train” your pelvic muscles to perform correctly.
Once you’ve got the art of Kegeling down, get in the habit of doing Kegels daily.
STARTER SET FOR KEGEL BEGINNERS:
For the first set, perform 10 controlled, sustained contractions, holding each for five seconds, relaxing out of each slowly, and contracting into the next one without taking a break in between. Don’t forget to BREATHE. If you find yourself holding your breath, count softly or sing while contracting the levator muscles.
For the second set, perform 30 quick contractions, holding for just one second each.
There’s no need for a break between the two sets. Simply move from one right on to the next.
Do 2-3 of each set per day. Be creative! There are many ways and settings in which one can Kegel – no one will know if you’re Kegeling on the bus or in a meeting or while driving your car (at a stop sign, preferably).
In terms of where you should do your Kegel exercises, there’s only one rule: NEVER do them on the toilet.
Not only is 8 seconds of urination too short to really benefit your muscles, but it’s also distracting to your bladder, which has an important job of its own to do.
Other than that, you can fit in a Kegel routine whenever—and wherever—you prefer!
Content herein does not represent medical advice. To learn more about pelvic floor disorders such as fistula, pelvic organ prolapse, dropped bladder, dropped uterus, hysteropexy uterine resuspension, vaginal laxity, rectocele, postpartum rehabilitation, vaginal rejuvenation, labiaplasty, vaginoplasty, Kegel exercise or incontinence please speak with a trained medical professional.