Performing Pelvic Floor Exercises Correctly

By

Allie Lemco Toren

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Most adults urinate four to seven times per day. If your daily routine is far in excess of that, talk with your doctor. 
Physical Therapy Exercise for Lower Back

Overactive bladder (OAB) affects close to 33 million Americans. It’s not a condition; it’s actually the name for a group of urinary symptoms. The most common symptom of OAB is a sudden, strong urge to urinate, often frequently throughout the day and night. Around 40% of women in the U.S. live with OAB, but many of them don’t talk to their doctors about treatment. It’s an embarrassing condition that some people think is just a normal part of aging, or an expected result of childbirth. It’s not. But it’s important to realize that OAB doesn’t have to be a part of your life—it can be treated!

Overactive bladder can be an incredibly frustrating condition to live with. Learn from experts and patients about overcoming OAB.

Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Apr 13, 2016

2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

You may have heard of pelvic floor muscle training exercises, also known as Kegels; they’re instrumental in strengthening your pelvic floor muscles. Patients who perform these exercises usually experience a significant reduction in OAB symptoms. And Kegels seem pretty simple—imagine that you’re trying to stop yourself from passing gas, and at the same time trying to stop the flow of urine. Squeeze those muscles, hold for five seconds, and then release; repeat for about five minutes, at least three times a day.

While pelvic floor exercises have proven to help with OAB symptoms, some people find it difficult to do them correctly. There are a few ways to help you get the most out of your pelvic floor training:

Focus on your pelvic floor.

It’s important that you contract the right muscles; otherwise, you won’t get any benefit from the exercises! Be careful not to flex the muscles in your abdomen, thighs or buttocks, and avoid holding your breath.

Try different positions.

Some people find that they can easily exercise their pelvic floor at any time, doing any activity. Others have trouble focusing and need to commit specific periods of time to the practice. To ensure that you’re doing the right exercises, empty your bladder and then lie on your back. This position may help you get a better idea of where your pelvic floor muscles are and how to contract them effectively. You can try leaving your legs straight out, or put them in a butterfly position.

Get some feedback.

A tool called biofeedback can help you identify and exercise your pelvic muscles. Under the guidance of your doctor, biofeedback involves inserting a probe into the vagina and connecting that probe to a computer monitor. On the monitor, you’ll see a visual representation of your muscle contractions and more clearly understand if you’re using the right muscles for your exercises.

Add some weight.

If you’re finding it difficult to isolate and contract your pelvic floor muscles, you can try using vaginal weights, also referred to as vaginal cones. These weights are training aids that can help you locate and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. They come in several sizes. You’ll insert one weight into your vagina, and then hold it for several minutes. The weight helps you correctly contract your pelvic floor muscles because you’re using them to hold the weight in place.

If you’re having trouble doing Kegel exercises, it’s important to ask for help. Your doctor can give you feedback and strategies so you learn to isolate and exercise the right muscles. The majority of people with OAB who regularly practice pelvic floor exercises correctly find that they have better control over their bladders and see a reduction in OAB symptoms. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance—it’s worth it to stop worrying about OAB.

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Medical Reviewers: William C. Lloyd, MD, FACS Last Review Date: Oct 1, 2015

© 2016 Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reproduced or reprinted without permission from Healthgrades Operating Company, Inc. Use of this information is governed by the Healthgrades User Agreement.

View Sources

Medical References

  1. Pelvic Floor Exercises: A Guide for Women. International Urogynecological Association. Brochure. http://c.ymcdn.com/sites/www.iuga.org/resource/resmgr/brochures/eng_pfe.pdf
  2. Biofeedback for Pelvic Floor Muscle Re-education. Cleveland Clinic. http://my.clevelandclinic.org/ccf/media/files/Digestive_Disease/woc-spring-symposium-2013/biofeedbac...
  3. Dokmeci, F; Yuce, T; et al. Vaginal Weight Cones in the Management of Overactive Bladder Syndrome: The Effect on Qualitative and Urodynamic Measures. Journal of the International Continence Society. http://www.ics.org/Abstracts/Publish/105/000731.pdf
  4. Overactive Bladder (OAB). Urology Care Foundation. http://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/overactive-bladder-(oab)
  5. Pelvic Floor Exercises. Womensbladderhealth.com. http://www.womensbladderhealth.com/pdf/pelvicfloorexercises.pdf

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