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Getting Started: How Do You Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscles?

Pelvic Floor Muscles

There are several ways to find your pelvic floor muscles. When using the pelvic floor muscles, women will feel a slight pulling in the rectum and vagina. Men will feel a pulling-in of the anus and the penis will move. Every person is unique, and different techniques work for different people.

General Technique

Imagine that you are in a crowded room and feel as if you must pass gas or "wind." Most of us will squeeze the muscles of our rectum and anus (back passage) to prevent passing gas. The muscles you squeeze are the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel a "pulling" sensation at the anus, you are using the right muscles. In the majority of patients, this is the most successful technique.

Technique for Women

Lie down and insert a finger into your vagina. Try to squeeze around your finger with your vaginal muscles. You should be able to feel the sensation in your vagina, and you may also be able to feel the pressure on your finger. If you can feel this, you are using the right muscles. If you cannot detect any movement with 1 finger, try 2 fingers.

Technique for Men

Stand in front of a mirror and watch your penis. Try to make your penis move up and down without moving the rest of your body. If you can do this, you are using the right muscles.

You may not find your pelvic floor muscles immediately. Many people have to take their time with this.

Don't Exercise the Wrong Muscles

One of the most common mistakes is exercising the wrong muscle(s). When trying to find a new muscle, especially a weak one, most people tighten other muscles too. Some people clench their fists or teeth, hold their breath, or make a face. This does not help. It is very tempting to use other muscles, especially stronger ones, to support smaller, weaker muscles such as the pelvic floor muscles. However, using other muscles interferes with learning how to use the right ones. It is best just to relax your body as much as possible and concentrate on your pelvic floor muscles.

Not Your Abdominal Muscles

To avoid using your stomach muscles, rest your hand lightly on your belly as you are squeezing your pelvic floor muscles. Do you feel your belly tightening? If you do, relax and try again. Be sure that you do not feel any movement of your stomach.

Not Your Chest Muscles

If you find yourself holding your breath then you are probably using your chest muscles. To avoid this, relax completely and notice how you are breathing for a few moments. Now squeeze your pelvic floor muscles while you continue to breathe normally. This will help to make sure that you are not using your chest muscles because these are usually relaxed when you breathe.

Not Your Buttock Muscles

The other set of "wrong muscles" are the muscles of the buttocks (bottom). To test whether you are tightening your buttock muscles by mistake, squeeze your pelvic floor muscles while sitting in front of a mirror. If you see that your body is moving up and down slightly, you are also using your buttock muscles.

Not Your Thigh Muscles

Another set of muscles to avoid using is the thigh muscles. If you see your upper legs moving while you are sitting, causing your entire body to lift, you are contracting the wrong muscles. If you do this properly, no one -- except for you -- should be able to tell that you are squeezing your pelvic floor muscles.