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Like any muscle your pelvic floor muscles need to be exercised so they remain strong. These muscles can become weakened after childbirth, after menopause and as a result of chronic coughing or heavy lifting.
By doing pelvic floor muscle exercises you can build up and strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor to help you hold your urine and improve your bladder and bowel control.
These exercises are also known as Kegel exercises. When done properly and regularly they can make a big difference to your bladder control.
Kegel exercises can be done standing, sitting or lying down
Step 1: Learning to Feel the Muscles
Figure 1 iIlustration by Gend27/CC by 3.0
Step 2: Learning to Isolate the Muscles
Step 3: Practicing Pelvic Exercises
When Will I Notice Improvement?
What if I can’t contract my pelvic floor muscles?If you are having a hard time doing these exercises or find you are not making progress, ask your health care provider whether a pelvic floor physiotherapist or biofeedback might be helpful for you.
Pelvic floor physiotherapy
Physiotherapists have equipment which can help you learn how to contract the correct muscles, measure how strongly you are contracting your muscles and can provide motivation and guidance to help you continue doing your exercises properly. If you are interested in physiotherapy, a referral can be made. Pelvic floor physiotherapy is often covered by private insurance plans (like any other physiotherapist).
Biofeedback is a method of assisting women to perform pelvic floor exercises also known as Kegels. The nurses in the clinic use specialized computer equipment which can show you the strength of your pelvic floor muscles. This “biofeedback” is then used to coach you in an individualized exercise program designed to increase your muscle function and bladder control.