I recently had a conversation with a friend who was experiencing some urine loss during exercise, following the birth of her child. Putting on my gynecology hat, I asked her if she'd tried kegel exercises yet. Her response was classic—“I hate working out, so why would my vagina be any different”? Her response intrigued me. As a clinician, recommending a treatment as simple as a kegel squeeze is a no-brainer.
Over time, the pelvic floor muscles can become weak from a variety of causes, including:
- Connective tissue disease
- Straining associated with chronic constipation
- Chronic cough
How do you do a kegel exercise?
The key is to make sure that you are actually engaging your levator ani muscles.
- Start by standing over the toilet while urinating. Stop the flow of urine midstream and pay attention to the muscles in your pelvis that you just squeezed—these are your “kegel” muscles (don’t forget to finish emptying your bladder!).
- When first starting out, it helps to lie down in a quiet environment. Squeeze the kegel muscles for 5 seconds and relax for 5 seconds. Repeat for a total of 10 squeezes. For the first week, perform the exercise once a day only.
- At the start of the second week, try holding each squeeze for 7 seconds. Now perform the exercises twice a day (10 squeezes each time).
- At the start of the 3rd week, try holding each squeeze for 10 seconds. Increase the frequency of kegel exercises to 3 times a day.