Both men and women can experience pelvic floor weakness over time. As with other muscles, people can perform exercises to strengthen the pelvic muscles, improving bowel and bladder control. If you’re having trouble doing Kegel exercises, don’t be shy about asking for help. Your doctor or other healthcare provider can give you important feedback to help you learn to isolate and exercise the correct muscles. In some cases, weighted vaginal cones or biofeedback may help.
To use a vaginal cone, you insert it into your vagina and use contractions of the pelvic muscle to hold it in place during your daily activities. During a biofeedback session, your doctor or other healthcare provider inserts a pressure sensor into your vagina or rectum. As you relax and contract your pelvic floor muscles, a monitor will measure and display pelvic floor activity.
Pelvic floor exercises offer many benefits to women, including a lower risk of vaginal prolapse, better bowel and bladder control, and better recovery after delivery. They can also benefit men by speeding recovery after prostate surgery, reducing the risk of rectal prolapse, and improving bowel and bladder control. Anyone who has recently had surgery or given birth should speak to a doctor before beginning a pelvic floor exercise program to ensure that these muscles can safely begin to work again. If you find yourself holding your breath, you’re probably using your chest muscles. To avoid this, relax completely and watch how you breathe for a few moments. Now tighten the pelvic floor muscles while continuing to breathe normally. This will help ensure that you are not using your chest muscles because they are generally relaxed when you breathe.
People may have difficulty targeting their pelvic floor specifically to perform the exercises. Specialized physical therapists known as pelvic floor therapists can help a person identify their pelvic floor using different feedback devices. An example is a biofeedback device that involves putting sticky electrodes on key areas of a person’s body and asking them to contract their pelvic floor muscles. The electrodes send signals to a computer that can identify when the correct muscles are contracting.
Sometimes a person can have nerve damage that prevents him from contracting the pelvic floor muscles on his own. In this case, a pelvic floor therapist may offer pelvic stimulation therapy, which can help produce muscle contractions.
Pelvic floor exercise can be implemented in your daily life and can be done anywhere, anytime. It is a gentle exercise, but very effective in treating bladder leakage. Like any form of exercise, it is best to try different methods to get all of your pelvic floor muscles to work. These can include quick exercises, where the muscles of the pelvic floor quickly tighten and then relax; and slow exercises, where the pelvic floor muscles tighten for 10 seconds before relaxing. These exercises work best when each squeeze of the pelvic floor muscles is as tight as possible.