Kegel exercises are exercises that can help women strengthen the pelvic floor muscles (the muscles that support the urethra, bladder, uterus, and rectum). They are a type of pelvic floor muscle training. Stronger pelvic floor muscles can help reduce urine leakage associated with urinary incontinence. These muscles can become weak over time or can be affected by childbirth.
It can take 3-6 weeks for kegel exercises to make changes, so be patient. Fortunately, these exercises can be done anytime, anywhere so they are an easy habit to pick up.
Kegel exercises are very simple, risk-free, and painless. They involve squeezing the pelvic floor muscles.
It may be difficult to initially identify the correct muscles. You may mistake contractions of your abdominal or thigh muscles as pelvic floor muscle movements. Here are some tips to help you identify the correct muscles:
The muscles you tighten are the muscles you should contract during Kegel exercises. If you continue to have problems identifying these muscles, talk to your doctor or nurse.
Once you have identified your pelvic floor muscles, you are ready to begin doing Kegel exercises. These muscles will react to exercise like any other muscle. You may experience very mild muscle soreness when you first begin doing these exercises. If you do too many exercises before you are ready, however, you might experience more pronounced muscle soreness and fatigue.
Once you are comfortable with the exercise, you can do them for five minutes, three times a day. You can do them lying down, sitting, and standing.
The following tips may help you remember to do your Kegel exercises:
Loss of bladder control is common, especially as you get older. Kegel exercises offer you the benefit of trying to solve the problem without medical treatment. A few minutes a day, a few times a day may make a big difference. Keep them up because you will only benefit from these exercises if you continue to do them.
National Library of Medicine
Society of Gynecological Surgeons
Women's Health Matters
Urinary Incontinence—Female. EBSCO Health Library website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/healthLibrary/. Updated September 27, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Jelovsek FR. How to do pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegel’s). Society of Gynecological Surgeons Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.sgsonli.... Accessed on November 28, 2012.
Kegel Exercise Tips. National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse website. Available at: http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/bcw_ez/insertC.aspx. Updated March 28, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Urinary Incontinence in Women. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php. Updated November 27, 2012. Accessed November 28, 2012.
Last reviewed November 2012 by Brian Randall, MD
Last Updated: 11/18/2012