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How To Do Kegel Exercises & FAQs

Pelvic floor exercises are a crucial part of both men's and women’s daily exercise routines. These muscles are critical for supporting a range of pelvic organs including your bowel, bladder, and reproductive system. Strengthening your pelvic floor helps you get on top of potential health problems later down the line, like bowel or bladder leakage, risk of organ prolapse or decrease in intimate sensation.

Worryingly, 50% of women that perform pelvic floor exercises do them incorrectly. Luckily, you’ll find everything you need to know about Kegel exercises and how to perform them correctly, right here.

 

What are Kegel Exercises?

A Kegel exercise is the repetitive contraction and relaxation of your pelvic floor muscles to stimulate growth in strength, endurance and co-ordination. You can train your pelvic floor the same way you exercise any other muscles. While our pelvic floor muscles naturally weaken over time, some activities – like pregnancy and childbirth, a chronic cough, or straining for constipation can also put immense additional pressure on your pelvic floor.

When our pelvic floor muscles weaken, we can develop health problems, such as bowel and bladder leakage, pelvic organ prolapse and reduced sexual sensation.  Sometimes muscles can become tense or tight causing problems with pelvic pain or difficulty with bowel or bladder emptying or discomfort during sex.

Thankfully, there are exercises we can do to reduce the impact of a weakening pelvic floor and regain control of our health.

 

How To Do Pelvic Floor Exercises For Women (A Step-by-Step Guide)

  • Find your pelvic floor - Research has shown us that most women can massively improve the strength, tone and skills of their pelvic floor muscles by simply doing pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegels). A strong healthy pelvic floor supports your pelvic organs to prevent prolapse, helps closure of the bladder tube to prevent leaks, and helps you control bladder urges. The pelvic floor muscles also have to release to fully empty the bladder and bowel. You need to be able to both contract and relax the muscles for comfortable sex and sexual pleasure.
  • Practise holding your contractions - 
  • Make it a routine - Try using the 10 - 10 - 3 method as way of incorporating pelvic floor exercise into your daily routine:
  1. Perform a 10 second slow Kegel: Squeeze and lift the muscles around your anus and vagina. Repeat up to 10 times.
  2. Perform 10 fast Kegels: Squeeze and lift quickly for 2 seconds and then fully relax. The relaxation part is important!
  3. Repeat 3 times a day. Repetition and persistence are key! 

 

Kegel exercises - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

When should I call a doctor or ask for help?

If you’re experiencing pain in your lower back and pain in the genital, rectal and pelvic areas, you should refer to a GP or a urogynaecologist as soon as possible.

Other symptoms like persistent constipation and loss of bladder and bowel control are also reasons to see a doctor. However, it’s reason enough to go to the GP even if you just don’t feel right down there – a professional can help diagnose potential problems before they worsen.


When should I do kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises can be done anywhere and everywhere, depending on how comfortable you feel doing them on the go. 

Vary the positions you choose to challenge the muscles, try lying, sitting and standing exercises.


How many Kegel exercises should I do?

When it comes to a recommended number of Kegel exercises, you should be aiming for – or building up to – a minimum of three sets of 10 Kegel contractions each day until you achieve your goals. 

When you feel confident that your pelvic floor is strong enough, do one set of targeted pelvic floor contractions each day and then begin to incorporate Kegel exercises into your workouts and other activities.


How long does it take for Kegel exercises to help symptoms?

Provided you’re following a regular Kegel exercise programme and doing the required repetitions every day, you’ll likely notice significant changes in your body in as little as 8-12 weeks.

You’ll find you have better control when you need the loo – and you may even find sex more pleasurable in just a couple of months.


Can you overdo Kegel exercises?

Like any form of strength training, it is possible to overdo Kegel exercises.

Performing Kegel workouts that are too strenuous can cause your pelvic floor to become too tight. If your pelvic floor is too stiff, you can experience painful muscle tension, spasm, and uncomfortable intercourse.

Similarly, overdoing your Kegel exercises can cause the muscles to become tired, which can lead to, or even exacerbate, the symptoms of a weak pelvic floor.