The pelvic floor is something that many people don’t think about. In fact it’s something we take for granted on a daily basis. Kegel Exercises and pelvic floor exercises strengthen the P.C. muscle a.k.a. the Pubococcygeus muscle. The pelvic floor consists of the group of muscles which support the bladder, uterus, and bowel. I never gave this area much thought until after the birth of my first child. It can be helpful to understand more about your pelvic floor and why it is important, as well as why it is necessary to strengthen it.
Many things contribute to the weakening of the pelvic floor. Pregnancy is a big one, but so is being overweight. I had both of these factors weighing on my pelvic floor during my third pregnancy. As the floor weakens the pelvic organs may descend and sag into your vagina causing a vaginal prolapse. This condition has several varying degrees, the worst needing surgery to correct. A prolapse can cause pain, incontinence, and embarrassment. Kegel exercises can help to prevent and even fix some smaller degrees of prolapse. If you suspect you have a prolapse always see your OB/GYN to rule out the need for physical therapy or surgery.
In order to find your pelvic floor muscles try stopping the flow of urine when you are using the bathroom. Another description would be to squeeze the muscles between your vagina and rectum. You can also insert two clean fingers into your vagina and try squeezing them with your vagina. You will feel the pelvic floor move upwards as the walls of your vagina tighten.
How to Do Kegel Exercises
- Squeeze the pelvic muscles tight and hold the contraction for 5 seconds. Then relax for 10 seconds. Repeat 10 times. Do this 3 times a day.
- As you get stronger try to increase to 15 contractions, then to 20 contractions.
I find that doing my Kegel exercises with a Ben Wa ball can be easier. The ball provides my body with an object for feedback. It seems like I work harder with the Ben Wa balls, as opposed to without them. It does take more prep work to do my Kegel exercises since I have to insert the balls, so I often times save this for my nighttime set of exercises.
There are Kegel balls available with adjustable weights that allow the added advantage of increasing strength over time with increasingly difficult exercises, much like you would expect to do with any other muscle in the body.
The ones shown here are Lelo Luna Beads made of body-safe silicone, with two 28 gram balls and 2 37 gram balls intended for developing increased resistance over time.
The nice thing about Kegel exercises is that they are very discreet. You can do them in the car, in class, or with your morning coffee. My tip is to make it a habit by integrating into your daily routine. Do your first set with your coffee, the second set while your little ones are napping and the last set before bed.
As long as you do it, you will be thankful you made time to support your pelvic floor.