Pelvic floor muscle training exercises
Pelvic floor muscle training exercises are a series of exercises designed to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor.
Pelvic floor muscle training exercises are recommended for:
Pelvic floor muscle training exercises can help strengthen the muscles under the uterus, bladder, and bowel (large intestine). They can help both men and women who have problems with urine leakage or bowel control.
A pelvic floor muscle training exercise is like pretending that you have to urinate, and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow. It's important to find the right muscles to tighten.
The next time you have to urinate, start to go and then stop. Feel the muscles in your vagina, bladder, or anus get tight and move up. These are the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel them tighten, you've done the exercise right.
If you are still not sure whether you are tightening the right muscles, keep in mind that all of the muscles of the pelvic floor relax and contract at the same time. Because these muscles control the bladder, rectum, and vagina, the following tips may help:
- Women: Insert a finger into your vagina. Tighten the muscles as if you are holding in your urine, then let go. You should feel the muscles tighten and move up and down.
- Men: Insert a finger into your rectum. Tighten the muscles as if you are holding in your urine, then let go. You should feel the muscles tighten and move up and down. These are the same muscles you would tighten if you were trying to prevent yourself from passing gas.
It is very important that you keep the following muscles relaxed while doing pelvic floor muscle training exercises:
- Buttocks (the deeper, anal sphincter muscle should contract)
A woman can also strengthen these muscles by using a vaginal cone, which is a weighted device that is inserted into the vagina. Then you try to tighten the pelvic floor muscles to hold the device in place.
If you are unsure whether you are doing the pelvic floor muscle training correctly, you can use biofeedback and electrical stimulation to help find the correct muscle group to work.
- Biofeedback is a method of positive reinforcement. Electrodes are placed on the abdomen and along the anal area. Some therapists place a sensor in the vagina in women or anus in men to monitor the contraction of pelvic floor muscles.
- A monitor will display a graph showing which muscles are contracting and which are at rest. The therapist can help find the right muscles for performing pelvic floor muscle training exercises.
PERFORMING PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES:
1. Begin by emptying your bladder.
2. Tighten the pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of 10.
3. Relax the muscles completely for a count of 10.
4. Do 10 repititions, 3 to 5 times a day (morning, afternoon, and night).
You can do these exercises at any time and any place. Most people prefer to do the exercises while lying down or sitting in a chair. After 4 - 6 weeks, most people notice some improvement. It may take as long as 3 months to see a major change.
After a couple of weeks, you can also try doing a single pelvic floor contraction at times when you are likely to leak (for example, while getting out of a chair).
A word of caution: Some people feel that they can speed up the progress by increasing the number of repetitions and the frequency of exercises. However, over-exercising can instead cause muscle fatigue and increase urine leakage.
If you feel any discomfort in your abdomen or back while doing these exercises, you are probably doing them wrong. Breathe deeply and relax your body when you are doing these exercises. Make sure you are not tightening your stomach, thigh, buttock, or chest muscles.
When done the right way, pelvic floor muscle exercises have been shown to be very effective at improving urinary continence.
Herderschee R, Hay-Smith EJC, Herbison GP, Roovers JP, Heineman MJ. Feedback or biofeedback to augment pelvic floor muscle training for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2011:7:CD009252. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD009252.
Dumoulin C, Hay-Smith J. Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010:1:CD005654. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD005654.pub2.
Payne CK. Conservative management of urinary incontinence: behavioral and pelvic floor therapy, urethral and pelvic devices. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 69.
Campbell SE, Glazener CMA, Hunter KF, Cody JD, Moore KN. Conservative management for postprostatectomy urinary incontinence. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2012:1 CD001843. DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD001843.pub4.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. ©1997-2014 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
25 Ways to Get Your Family to Eat More Vegetables
Genes and Breast Cancer: Are You at Risk?
Eliminating Hair Down There: What's Safe, What's Not?
What Type of Body Fat Is Most Dangerous?
Letting Go of Your Teen: Why It's Important
Sign Up for Free Newsletters
Ask Your Doctor the RIGHT Questions!
the most from your doctor visit.
Emailed right to you!
The Ask Your Doctor email series
may contain sponsored content.
18+, US residents only please.
Explore Original Articles About...
Get the MOST from QualityHealth
- Top Searches
- 1. Arthritis Management: Nature Heals
- 2. 5 Digestive To-Dos
- 3. Men: Should You Shave It or Leave It?
- 4. Today's Top Fitness Trends
- 5. Sugar and Osteoarthritis : The Link
- 6. Can't Afford Your Hospital Bills?
- 7. Stay Energized All Day Long
- 8. Phobias: Who Has Them and Why?
- 9. What If Your EpiPen Fails?
- 10. 5 Costly Medical Billing Mistakes
- 1. Hotter Temperatures Linked To Kidney Stones
- 2. Summer Bug Bites: What to Look For
- 3. Skin Health Advice with Dr. Kenneth Beer
- 4. Summer Safety Tips That Every Parent Needs To Know
- 5. Sugar and Your Immunity System
- 6. Do Weight Loss Supplements Work?
- 7. 5 Super Foods for Spring
- 8. The Hazards of Reusable Bags
- 9. How to Avoid Ingrown Hairs
- 10. Health Tip: Constantly Change Shoes
- 1. 4 Common Treatments for Epilepsy
- 2. What Does a Urogynecologist Do?
- 3. GERD Without Heartburn? It's Possible
- 4. Graston Technique: Can It Work on You?
- 5. Music Therapy Can Help Autism
- 6. 8 Ways to Fight MS-Related Fatigue
- 7. Can You Still Bleed After Menopause?
- 8. Be Your Own Health Care Advocate
- 9. Why Is Syphillis on the Rise?
- 10. Ideal Weight vs. Happy Weight
The material on the QualityHealth Web site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment provided by a physician or other qualified health provider. See additional information.