Pelvic Floor Exercises

Also known as "Kegel" Exercises

questions and answers

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor consists of layers of muscle that run from the pubic bone at the front to the coccyx at the back and act like a hammock to support the abdominal contents, including the bladder and the bowel. The urethra and rectum pass through the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles play an important part in controlling the bladder and bowel, and in normal erectile functioning.

Why do the muscles weaken?

The muscles can weaken generally as part of the aging process. They can also be weakened by:

What benefits do performing pelvic floor exercises deliver?

You will notice improved control of your bladder and bowel and improved erectily function. You should note that if you are due to have surgery to your prostate gland, it can help to perform pelvic floor exercises before surgery then continue with them afterwards, once the urinary catheter has been removed (don't try them when the catheter is still in place.)

How to contract your pelvic floor muscles

It is important to identify the correct muscles to work on. Make sure that you are sitting or lying comfortably with your abdominal muscles, bottom and legs relaxed.

  1. Tighten the muscles around the anus as though you are trying to stop yourself from passing window. It feels like you are lifting your anus inside. This movement should not include a contraction of the buttocks.

  2. The next stage is to squeeze the muscles around your urethra. This is the sensation that you are trying to stop yourself from urinating. You can squeeze the band of muscle that runs around the penis and the back of the scrotum to lift the penis.

  3. You may notice that your deep abdominal muscles tighten when you perform one and two. This is normal so you do not need to try and stop it happening. You should however ensure that your bottom and legs do not contract.

How to perform the pelvic floor exercises

The pelvic floor exercises can be performed in virtually any position, seated, stood up or lying down, so they can be performed wherever you are without anyone knowing. Queueing at the post office need never be the same again.

You can combine slower and faster pelvic floor contractions for the best muscle recruitment, eg:

Lynne Robinson, a noted Pilates instructor, recommends "sucking the thumb" as you draw your pelvic floor muscles inside. However, this is probably not to be recommended in the post office queue!

If you have a pilates class near you it is worth going along, as much emphasis is placed on lifting the pelvic floor and maintaining a mild contraction throughout everyday "functional" activities.

What improvements can I hope to see if I perform these exercises regularly?

You are likely to see improved erectile function and an increased firmness in your erections (analagous to taking viagra!). You will also have more control of your bladder and bowel function.

See: Pelvic floor exercises 'help men too'

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