Kegel exercises or pelvic floor exercises are commonly recommended as a proven method to both minimise the risk of a prolapse developing, or to provide additional support to the pelvic area following prolapse surgery. Unfortunately, if not done correctly Kegel exercises can not only be ineffective, they can even cause damage to the bladder and increase the risk of urinary infections. Ensure you’re doing these vital exercises correctly by following the following three suggestions.
Find your pelvic muscles
Trying to follow general instructions such as “pull up down below” or “hold everything in” can often mean that the muscles that Kegel exercises are intended to target are missed. To identify the correct movement, gently insert a clean finger into the vagina and try to tighten your pelvic muscles around it. When you feel the tightening action, your pelvic floor muscles will be effectively engaged. Ensure that you replicate that sensation whenever you undertake Kegel exercises.
Empty your bladder
Ensure that your bladder is completely empty before commencing your Kegel exercise sequence. Repeatedly contracting the pelvic floor when your bladder is full can result in urine retention and even an increased risk of unpleasant urinary infections.
Build up a regular routine
The results of Kegel exercises can take some weeks to become apparent, so don’t give up if nothing seems to be happening after a few days. Remember to increase the length of time that the contraction is held (start with 10 x 3 second contractions and try to gradually build up over time to 10 x 10 second contractions in each exercise session). As the muscles increase in strength, holding the contraction should become easier.
If consistently and persistently undertaken, Kegel exercises can make a lasting difference to pelvic floor health for many women. Although Kegel exercises on their own aren’t always sufficient to resolve incontinence or vaginal weakness, they form a helpful adjunct to prolapse surgery as well as a useful measure to protect the pelvic floor. Particularly if accompanied by weight control efforts and the avoidance of any heavy lifting, Kegel exercises can provide lasting benefits to many women.