What are Kegel Exercises?

Ask the Experts: What are Kegel Exercises?

Millions suffer from urinary incontinence (urine leakage). Often people feel as if their bladders control their lives, but Kegel exercises may help you control your bladder. Bladder control depends on muscles working together. The bladder muscle should be relaxed when the bladder is filling and the pelvic floor muscles should be tight. The pelvic floor muscles surround the urethra (the tube that urine passes through). When they tighten they help prevent leakage. Strong pelvic floor muscles can help prevent leakage and calm the urge to pass urine.

It will take practice to learn how to control your pelvic floor muscles. Exercise often enough to make it a habit. Pelvic floor muscle support usually gets better about six weeks after starting the exercises.

When women perform Kegel exercises correctly, they will feel a slight pulling in the rectum and vagina-a similar feeling to winking or puckering your lips. Men will feel a pulling of the anus and the penis will move. You can learn to control these muscles and make them stronger. For exact guidelines on how to perform Kegel Exercises, visit www.UrologyHealth.org/Kegels

Strengthening your pelvic floor is one step you can take to control your bladder. But exercises may not be enough. You should tell your health care provider if you have urine urgency or if you are leaking urine. They can offer other treatment options that may provide further relief.

Lisa N. Hawes, MD is a practicing general urologist with Chesapeake Urology Associates (CUA) in the greater Baltimore, Md. region.