What Are Kegel Exercises?
The pubococcygeus muscle or PC muscle is a hammock-like muscle, found in both sexes, that stretches from the public bone to the coccyx (tail bone) forming the floor of the pelvic cavity and supporting the pelvic organs. Kegel exercises strengthen and give voluntary control over these muscles.
Why Do Kegel Exercises?
Often the pelvic floor muscles are weak which contributes to problems with losing urine. Doing the exercises correctly and regularly with resistance can strengthen the muscles. Stronger muscles lead to little or no urine loss for many women. Kegel exercises can also improve your sex life when you give your partner’s penis a surprise squeeze or several quick squeezes during love making.
How Do I Do Them?
The easiest way to find your PC muscle is to stop the flow of urine while you are peeing. As you are peeing, intentionally stop the flow of urine. Do this several times until you can clearly feel the muscle you are using to stop the flow. This muscle is your PC muscle.
You can also check yourself by placing a finger in your vagina and squeezing around it. When you feel pressure around your finger, you are using the correct muscle. Try to keep everything relaxed except the muscles right around the vagina. At the same time, do not bear down or squeeze your thigh, back or abdominal muscles. Breathe slowly and deeply. At first you can do the exercises with your knees together (lying or sitting).
How Often Should I Do The Exercises?
Once you’ve identified your pelvic floor muscles. Then:
1. Contract your pelvic floor muscles.
2. Hold the contraction for three seconds then relax for three seconds.
3. Repeat 10 times.
4. Once you’ve perfected three-second muscle contractions, try it for four seconds at a time, alternating muscle contractions with a four-second rest period.
5. Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.
At first, you may not be able to do the exercises or hold the squeeze. With practice it will become easier as the muscles get stronger.
To get the maximum benefit, focus on tightening only your pelvic floor muscles or isolating your pelvic floor muscles. Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks. Also, try not to hold your breath. Just relax, breathe freely and focus on tightening the muscles around your vagina and rectum.
When Should I Expect Improvement?
It takes from six to twelve weeks for most women to notice a change. Remember, if you do the exercises with resistance regularly you could see results sooner and prevent stress incontinence.