PELVIC FLOOR (KEGEL’S) EXERCISES
The pelvic floor is made up of a thin sheet of muscle fibers and connective tissue that lies underneath the pelvis between the pubic bone at the front and the sacrum or tail bone at the back.
The pelvic floor muscles contract when you cough, sneeze or strain, helping to prevent the involuntary leakage of urine.
They support the organs in your abdomen especially when you are standing and help in the control of passing of urine, gas and bowel movements.
The pelvic floor muscles need to be fit and adequately toned to carry out their function well.
Intensive and regular pelvic floor exercises help by strengthening the muscles so they become firm and supportive. Many women will have a major improvement in symptoms of stress urinary incontinence by learning effective pelvic floor exercises thus avoiding or delaying the need for surgery.
How to exercise your pelvic floor muscles:
It is important to learn to do the exercises in the right way, and to check from time to time that you are still doing them correctly. Your therapist can help you to understand this.
Imagine that you are trying to stop yourself from passing gas from the bowel and at the same time trying to stop the flow of urine from the bladder. You should feel a lifting and tightening around the vagina and anus.
Release the contraction and rest for at least the same time of the contraction. Repeat the ‘tighten, hold and release’ as many times as you can (up to a maximum of 8-12 repetitions) Now perform the pelvic floor exercise, but squeeze and lift more firmly, then let go. This is called a quick contraction and will help your muscles react quickly when you laugh, cough, exercise or lift.
Aim to increase this number to 8-12 contractions, 3 times a day for at least 6 months.
You may not be able to immediately contract and relax adequately at first – most patients will learn to contract and relax if they are given some time by themselves at home to practice.
You may not feel your bladder control improve until after 3-6 weeks, but it may take up to 6 months to have improvement.
DON’T GIVE UP!!
It is important to maintain the strength of the muscles once you have completed an exercise programme. Practicing your exercises twice a week, 3 sets of 8-12 maximal contractions, 3 times a day should be sufficient. Try to incorporate these exercises into daily life activities.
Always tighten and contract your pelvic muscles before coughing, sneezing, jumping or lifting. This can help prevent involuntary loss of urine, gas or stool, or bulging down of your pelvic organs. Try to maintain your weight within healthy limits.