Kegel exercises are muscle-strengthening
maneuvers aimed at strengthening
the muscles supporting the rectum and vagina. These exercises may help
controlling the leakage of stool, or may help to tighten the tissues around
One of the muscles of the pelvic floor is called the pubococcygeal,
or PC, muscle. It is a thick, U-shaped band that is runs from the pubic
bone at the front of the pelvis to the coccyx, or tail bone, at the back.
It is this muscle that is strengthened during Kegel exercises.
The Kegel Exercise Program
The success of Kegel exercises depends on correct
technique and a commitment to perform the exercises regularly.
To find your PC muscle, try to stop the flow of urine
when you urinate. The muscle that you must contract to do this is the
PC muscle. Notice that, although the abdominal and rectal muscles contract
at the same time, it is the PC muscle that stops the flow of urine.
For women: Another way to find the PC muscle is to put
two fingers into your vagina and open them slightly. If this is difficult,
use a lubricant such as KY Jelly on your fingers to ease insertion. Now
squeeze your PC muscle enough to close your fingers.
After you know where the muscle is and feel some control
over it, try performing these Kegel exercises. The exercises can easily
be done lying down, sitting, or standing.
The Long-Cycle Exercise
1. Contract (squeeze) the PC muscle for 10 seconds.
2. Relax the PC muscle for 10 seconds.
3. Repeat both steps 15 times. After completion of the long-cycle exercise,
relax for 30 seconds, then start the short-cycle exercise.
The Short-Cycle Exercise
1. Contract the PC muscle for one second, then relax for one
2. Do each contraction and relaxation 10 times.
3. Repeat both steps 15 times
Breathe normally to avoid tensing other muscles when doing
Kegel exercises. Counting out loud may help. It is just as important to
relax the PC muscle as it is to contract. By doing both, you strengthen
the muscle and make it function more efficiently.
Do both long- and short-cycle exercises every day, eventually
reaching 15 of both cycles daily. This will take about 10 minutes.
Most people notice a decrease in symptoms within a month
after starting the exercises. If your PC muscle is very weak, you may
not notice a difference for several weeks. If you see no change after
doing the exercises for several weeks, contact your health care provider
to ensure that you have properly identified the PC muscle and are correctly
performing the exercises.
If you experience any discomfort when doing Kegel exercises,
contact your health care provider. The discomfort could indicate a condition
that needs further assessment.