Neal D. Johnson,M.D.
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Get back your pelvic control with Kegel exercises

Having problems with holding urine or bowel control? Most likely you have weakened pelvic floor muscles.

Kegel exercises (named after Dr. Arnold Kegel) are strengthening exercises consisting of contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles that support the pelvic organs, such as the bladder, bowel and uterus in women. Pelvic floor muscles control the flow of urine, contract during orgasm and aid in childbirth. Pelvic muscles can be weakened by pregnancy, childbirth, aging and being overweight.

Other than treating urinary incontinence (inability to hold urine) or loss of bowel control, Kegel exercises have been found to prevent or treat prolapse (pelvic organs protruding into the vagina or rectum), erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation.

In a study published in BJU International of 55 men, 40% had regained normal erectile function while 35.5% improved after six months of pelvic floor exercise therapy. Another analysis also evaluated 18 patients undergoing 15 to 20 sessions of pelvic floor rehabilitation for premature ejaculation. Results showed that 11 patients were cured and recovered control of the ejaculatory reflex.

There are several modifications of Kegel exercise and most of them are quite simple. Kegels maybe performed while lying down or sitting down anywhere:

  • Without holding breath, consciously tighten or squeeze the muscles in the vagina (women) and anus (men) like stopping urine flow.
  • Hold for a count of 10 and relax for a count of 10.
  • Do 10 sets and perform at least three times per day.

Another technique is to tighten the pelvic muscles around an imaginary clock, squeezing at 12, 3, 6 and 9 o’clock positions.

It may take four to six weeks to notice some improvements and three months to see a major change. Kegels should be done with an empty bladder, as exercising with a full bladder or while emptying can also weaken the muscles or lead to urinary tract infection.


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