HOW-TO GUIDE FOR WOMEN
PERFORMING KEGEL EXERCISES
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A pelvic floor exercise, more commonly called
a Kegel exercise (named after Dr. Arnold Kegel),
consists of contracting and relaxing the muscles
that form part of the pelvic floor, which are
now sometimes colloquially referred to as the
"Kegel muscles". Several tools exist to help
with these exercises, though many are ineffective.
Exercises are usually done to reduce urinary
incontinence and aid with childbirth in women,
and reduce premature ejaculatory occurrences
in men, as well as increase the size and
intensity of erections.
The aim of Kegel exercises is to improve muscle
tone by strengthening the pubococcygeus muscles
of the pelvic floor. Kegel is a popular prescribed
exercise for pregnant women to prepare the pelvic
floor for physiological stresses of the later
stages of pregnancy and vaginal childbirth.
Kegel exercises are said to be good for treating
vaginal prolapse and preventing uterine prolapse
in women and for treating prostate pain and
swelling resulting from benign prostatic
hyperplasia (BPH) and prostatitis in men.
Kegel exercises may be beneficial in treating
urinary incontinence in both men and women.
Kegel exercises may also increase sexual
gratification and aid in reducing premature
ejaculation. Many actions that are controlled
by Kegel muscles include "holding in" urine
or avoiding defecation.
Reproducing these types of muscle actions can
yield stronger Kegel muscles.
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Kegel exercises can help you prevent or
control urinary incontinence and other
pelvic floor problems.
Here's a step-by-step guide to doing
Kegel exercises correctly.
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic
floor muscles, which support the uterus,
bladder and bowel. You can do Kegel
exercises discreetly just about anytime,
whether you're driving in your car,
sitting at your desk or relaxing on the
You can even do Kegel exercises when
you're pregnant. Start by understanding
what Kegel exercises can do for you —
then follow step-by-step instructions
for contracting and relaxing your
pelvic floor muscles.
Why Kegel exercises matter
Many factors can weaken your pelvic
floor muscles, from pregnancy and
childbirth to aging and being
overweight. This may allow your
pelvic organs to descend and bulge
into your vagina — a condition known
as pelvic organ prolapse.
The effects of pelvic organ prolapse
range from uncomfortable pelvic pressure
to leakage of urine. Pelvic organ
prolapse isn't inevitable, however.
Kegel exercises can help delay or even
prevent pelvic organ prolapse and the
Kegel exercises — along with counseling and
sex therapy — may also be helpful for women
who have persistent problems reaching orgasm.
How to do Kegel exercises
It takes diligence to identify your pelvic
floor muscles and learn how to contract
and relax them.
Here are some pointers:
Find the right muscles.
Insert a finger inside your vagina and try to
squeeze the surrounding muscles. You should
feel your vagina tighten and your pelvic floor
Then relax your muscles and feel your pelvic
floor return to the starting position. You
can also try to stop the flow of urine when
you urinate. If you succeed, you've got the
Don't make a habit of starting and stopping
your urine stream, though. Doing Kegel
exercises with a full bladder or while
emptying your bladder can actually weaken
the muscles, as well as lead to incomplete
emptying of the bladder — which increases
the risk of a urinary tract infection.
Perfect your technique. Once you've identified
your pelvic floor muscles, empty your bladder
and sit or lie down. Contract your pelvic
floor muscles, hold the contraction for five
seconds, then relax for five seconds. Try it
four or five times in a row.
Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for
10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds
between contractions.Maintain your focus. For
best results, focus on tightening only your
pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex
the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks.
Avoid holding your breath. Instead, breathe
freely during the exercises.Repeat three times
a day. Aim for at least three sets of 10
repetitions a day. You might make a practice
of fitting in a set every time you do a routine
task, such as checking email, commuting to work,
preparing meals or watching TV.
When you're having trouble
If you're having trouble doing
Kegel exercises, don't be
embarrassed to ask for help.
Your doctor or other health care provider
can give you important feedback so that
you learn to isolate and exercise the
In some cases, biofeedback training may
help. During a biofeedback session, your
doctor or other health care provider
inserts a small monitoring probe into
your vagina or places adhesive electrodes
on the skin outside your vagina or anus.
When you contract your pelvic floor
muscles, you'll see a measurement on a
monitor that lets you know whether you've
successfully contracted the right muscles.
You'll also be able to see how long you
hold the contraction.
If necessary, electrical stimulation is
sometimes an option. During this procedure,
your doctor or other health care provider
applies a small electrical current to your
pelvic floor muscles. The current makes
the muscles contract, which produces a
buzzing feeling. Once you get used to the
sensation, you'll probably be able to
duplicate the exercise on your own.
When to expect results
If you do your Kegel exercises faithfully,
you can expect to see results — such as
less frequent urine leakage — within about
eight to 12 weeks. For some women, the
improvement is dramatic. For others, Kegel
exercises simply keep problems from getting
For continued benefits, make Kegel exercises
a permanent part of your daily routine.
Kegel exercises: A how-to guide for women
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Benefits of Kegel exercises
Kegel exercises strengthen some of the muscles
that control the flow of urine. Doctors often
prescribe Kegel exercises for people who have
bladder control problems (urinary incontinence).
Kegel exercises are also called pelvic floor
exercises because they treat and prevent pelvic
floor weakness. The pelvic floor is a "hammock"
of muscles that hold the pelvic organs in place.
In women, Kegel exercises are helpful for those
who have stress incontinence or uterine prolapse.
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
If you are pregnant, start doing daily Kegels
and continue them after having your baby.
Performing Kegel exercises
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Urinary incontinence (UI) is any involuntary
leakage of urine. It is a common and
distressing problem, which may have a profound
impact on quality of life. Urinary incontinence
almost always results from an underlying
treatable medical condition but is under-reported
to medical practitioners.
There is also a related condition for defecation
known as fecal incontinence.
Polyuria (excessive urine production) of which,
in turn, the most frequent causes are:
uncontrolled diabetes mellitus,
primary polydipsia (excessive
central diabetes insipidus and
nephrogenic diabetes insipidus.
Polyuria generally causes urinary
urgency and frequency, but doesn't
necessarily lead to incontinence.
Caffeine or cola beverages also
stimulate the bladder.
Enlarged prostate is the most
common cause of incontinence
in men after the age of 40;
sometimes prostate cancer may
also be associated with urinary
incontinence. Moreover drugs or
radiation used to treat prostate
cancer can also cause incontinence.
spinal cord injury can all
interfere with nerve
function of the bladder.
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