- As you get older
- If you gain weight
- After pregnancy and childbirth
- After gynecologic surgery (women)
- After prostate surgery (men)
- Imagine that you are trying to keep yourself from passing gas.
- Women: Insert a finger into your vagina. Tighten the muscles as if you are holding in your urine, then let go. You should feel the muscles tighten and move up and down.
- Men: Insert a finger into your rectum. Tighten the muscles as if you are holding in your urine, then let go. You should feel the muscles tighten and move up and down.
- Make sure your bladder is empty, then sit or lie down.
- Tighten your pelvic floor muscles. Hold tight and count to 8.
- Relax the muscles and count to 10.
- Repeat 10 times, 3 times a day (morning, afternoon, and night).
- Once you learn how to do them, do not practice Kegel exercises at the same time you are urinating more than twice a month. Doing the exercises while you are urinating can weaken your pelvic floor muscles over time.
- In women, doing Kegel exercises incorrectly or with too much force may cause vaginal muscles to tighten too much. This can cause pain during sexual intercourse.
- Incontinence will return if you stop doing these exercises. Once you start doing them, you may need to do them for the rest of your life.
- It may take several months for your incontinence to lessen once you start doing these exercises.
Pelvic muscle strengthening exercises; Pelvic floor exercises
Kegel exercises can help make the muscles under the uterus, bladder, and bowel (large intestine) stronger. They can help both men and women who have problems with urine leakage or bowel control. You may have these problems:
People who have brain and nerve disorders may also have problems with urine leakage or bowel control.
Kegel exercises can be done any time you are sitting or lying down. You can do them when you are eating, sitting at your desk, driving, and when you are resting or watching television.
How to Find the Right Muscles
A Kegel exercise is like pretending you have to urinate and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow. It is important to find the right muscles to tighten.
Next time you have to urinate, start to go and then stop. Feel the muscles in your vagina (for women), bladder, or anus get tight and move up. These are the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel them tighten, you have done the exercise right. Your thighs, buttock muscles, and abdomen should remain relaxed.
If you still are not sure you are tightening the right muscles:
How to do Kegel Exercises
Once you know what the movement feels like, do Kegel exercises 3 times a day:
Breathe deeply and relax your body when you are doing these exercises. Make sure you are not tightening your stomach, thigh, buttock, or chest muscles.
After 4 to 6 weeks, you should feel better and have fewer symptoms. Keep doing the exercises, but do not increase how many you do. Overdoing it can lead to straining when you urinate or move your bowels.
Some notes of caution:
When to Contact a Medical Professional
Call your health care provider if you are not sure you are doing Kegel exercises the right way. Your provider can check to see if you are doing them correctly.
Aliotta PJ, Alvero R. Incontinence, urinary. In: Ferri FF, ed. Ferri's Clinical Advisor 2015. 1st ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:section I.
Holroyd-Leduc JM, Tannenbaum C, Thorpe KE, Straus SE. What type of urinary incontinence does this woman have? JAMA. 2008;299:1446-1456.
Landefeld CS, Bowers BJ, Feld AD, Hartmann KE, Hoffman E, Ingber MJ, et al. National Institutes of Health state-of-the-science conference statement: prevention of fecal and urinary incontinence in adults. Ann Intern Med. 2008;148:449-58. Epub 2008 Feb 11.
Lentz GM. Urogynecology. In: Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, Katz VL, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology. 6th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2012;chap 21.
Resnick NM, Tadic SD, Yalla SV. Geriatric incontinence and voiding dysfunction. In: Wein AJ, ed. Campbell-Walsh Urology. 10th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2011:chap 76.
Rogers RG. Clinical practice. Urinary stress incontinence in women. N Engl J Med. 2008;358:1029-1036.
- Review date:
- December 07, 2016
- Reviewed by:
- Scott Miller, MD, Urologist in private practice in Atlanta, GA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- 2008 A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.