Pelvic Floor Exercise

What are the pelvic floor muscles?

Think of your pelvic floor muscles as a broad sling between your legs. These muscles stretch from your pubic bone at the front of your body, to the base of your spine at the back, and help to hold your bladder, uterus (womb) and bowel neatly in place. They also give you control over emptying both your bladder and bowels.

During pregnancy, your hormones affect your pelvic floor muscles, making them stretch. Consequently, when you cough or sneeze, you may find you have a little bladder leakage (stress incontinence). Those little leakages may continue after the birth of your baby. In fact, a third of new mums are affected by postnatal urine leaks.

After your body goes through menopause, a weak or damaged pelvic floor can lead to prolapse. This is where the pelvic organs move down and start to push against the walls of the vagina. It’s not all bad though, because there is plenty you can do now to ensure your pelvic floor stays strong.

If you’re a bloke, maintaining a strong pelvic floor has benefits for you also. Your pelvic floor muscles support your control your bladder and bowel and also help with sexual functionality.

How do I find my pelvic floor muscles?

Finding you pelvic floor muscles actually isn’t all that difficult. We use these muscles every day, yet probably think very little of it. Try the three methods below to find your pelvic floor muscles, but remember not to use your stomach, back or leg muscles. Naturally, if you’re having trouble, have a chat with your doctor to determine the best method of treating your incontinence.

These methods work for both men and women

  • You can identify the muscles located around the bladder opening by starting and stopping your urine stream. You’re using your pelvic floor muscles if you are able to stop mid stream and start again.
  • Another way to identify pelvic muscles and complete your pelvic floor exercises is to tighten the muscles around your back passage (as when holding back wind or at the end of a bowel movement). Make sure you aren’t using your buttock muscles.
  • A proper pelvic floor squeeze also works to lift the engaged muscles upwards. Use a hand mirror to see if you can notice any upward movement when you contract your pelvic floor muscles.

How do pelvic floor exercises help?

Pelvic Floor Exercises (also known as Kegel exercises), are vital to every woman’s exercise routine and can be done discreetly anytime, anywhere. These are important in increasing control over your bladder and bowel and strengthens your pelvic floor which supports your vagina, uterus and bowel. That’s why keeping your pelvic floor in good working order is so valuable for women no matter what your ages and stage of life.

If done properly and routinely, Kegel exercises can help to prevent leaking urine while you're pregnant and after your baby is born.

Kegel exercises should be a part of your antenatal classes, especially if it’s your first baby. If they’re not, ask your midwife about them during your next class.

Building up your pelvic floor muscles with Kegel exercises can:

  • help support the extra weight of pregnancy
  • shorten the second stage of labour, when pushing your baby out, and…
  • heal the perineum (area between your anus and vagina) after birth by increasing blood flow to the area

Another great benefit of stronger pelvic floor muscles is that you’re more likely to have orgasms during sex, which could lead to a more satisfying sex life.

Lets get started

Kegel exercises are gentle, yet highly effective in treating a weak bladder and ultimately, bladder leakage. They can be done anywhere and at any time.

There are a couple of different methods of Kegel exercises including:

  • quick exercises — where the pelvic floor muscles are quickly tightened then relaxed
  • slow exercises — where the pelvic floor muscles are tightened for 10 seconds before relaxing

For Kegel exercises to work best, make each squeeze of the pelvic floor muscles as tight as possible. 

For Women

Kegel Exercises can be done daily by following these four simple steps below.

STEP 1 — Sit, stand or lie down with your legs slightly apart and relax your thighs, buttocks and abdomen muscles.

STEP 2 — Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your back passage and your vagina at the same time. Lift them up inside. Hold them as tightly as you can for around 8 seconds and let go.

STEP 3 — Try to complete Step 2 by completing 10 slow squeezes and 10 fast squeezing exercises.

STEP 4 — Repeat these exercises 4-5 times every day. 

Remember to: keep breathing; only squeeze and lift; do not tighten your buttocks; keep your thighs relaxed.

For men

STEP 1 — Sit, stand or lie down with your legs slightly apart and relax your thighs, buttocks and abdomen muscles.

STEP 2 — Squeeze and draw in the muscles around your urine tube and back passage at the same time. Lift them up inside. Hold them as tightly as you can for around 8 seconds and let go.

STEP 3 — Try to complete Step 2 by completing 10 slow squeezes and 10 fast squeezing exercises.

STEP 4 — Repeat these exercises 4-5 times every day. 

Remember to: keep breathing; only squeeze and lift; do not tighten your buttocks; keep your thighs relaxed.

The benefits of pelvic floor muscle exercises

If you’re a woman, pelvic floor muscle exercises can help with:

  • improving your control over bladder and bowel function
  • reducing the risk of Prolapse
  • better recovery from childbirth and surgery
  • increased sexual sensation and orgasmic potential
  • an increase in social confidence and quality of life

Men can also expect:

  • better recovery after prostate surgery
  • improved control over bladder and bowel function
  • increased sexual sensation and orgasmic potential

-     an increase in social confidence and quality of life

Remember, a good tight squeezes are the order of the day. If you don’t see a change in symptoms after 3 months, ask for help from your doctor. The Kegel exercises described above are, like most exercises, only beneficial if done correctly.

Kimberly-Clark Australia makes no warranties or representations regarding the completeness or accuracy of the information. This information should be used only as a guide and should not be relied upon as a substitute for professional medical or other health professional advice.

Other incontinence Treatments

Bladder leakage > TVT >  Urodynamic > Surgery > Medication