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Kegel exercises - self-care

Pelvic muscle strengthening exercises; Pelvic floor exercises

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Description

Kegel exercises can help make the muscles under the uterus, bladder, and bowel (large intestine) stronger. They can help both men and women who have problems with urine leakage or bowel control. You may have these problems:

People who have brain and nerve disorders may also have problems with urine leakage or bowel control.

Kegel exercises can be done any time you are sitting or lying down. You can do them when you are eating, sitting at your desk, driving, and when you are resting or watching television.

How to Find the Right Muscles

A Kegel exercise is like pretending you have to urinate and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow. It is important to find the right muscles to tighten.

Next time you have to urinate, start to go and then stop. Feel the muscles in your vagina (for women), bladder, or anus get tight and move up. These are the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel them tighten, you have done the exercise right. Your thighs, buttock muscles, and abdomen should remain relaxed.

If you still are not sure you are tightening the right muscles:

How to do Kegel Exercises

Once you know what the movement feels like, do Kegel exercises 3 times a day:

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.

After 4 to 6 weeks, you should feel better and have fewer symptoms. Keep doing the exercises, but do not increase how many you do. Overdoing it can lead to straining when you urinate or move your bowels.

Some notes of caution:

When to Call the Doctor

Call your health care provider if you are not sure you are doing Kegel exercises the right way. Your provider can check to see if you are doing them correctly.You may be referred to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor exercises.

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References

Goetz LL, Klausner AP, Cardenas DD. Bladder dysfunction. In: Cifu DX, ed. Braddom's Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 5th ed. Elsevier; 2016:chap 20.

Newman DK, Burgio KL. Conservative management of urinary incontinence: behavioral and pelvic floor therapy and urethral and pelvic devices. In: Wein AJ, Kavoussi LR, Partin AW, Peters CA, eds. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 80.

Patton S, Bassaly R. Urinary incontinence. In: Kellerman RD, Rakel DP, eds. Conn's Current Therapy 2019. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2019:1081-1083.

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Review Date: 1/31/2019  

Reviewed By: Sovrin M. Shah, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Urology, The Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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