Pelvic Floor Exercises for Women

A woman’s pelvic floor muscles surround and support the urethra, uterus and bowels. Strengthening these muscles with regular workouts–just as you would with any other muscle–can help reduce urinary incontinence. With diligent practice, you could see less urinary leakage within eight to 12 weeks–or, at the least, regular exercise might help keep the problem from worsening. Exercises that strengthen your pelvic floor muscles are known as Kegels, pelvic floor muscles training or pelvic floor exercises.

Basic Contractions

Before you can focus on more complicated exercises, you must identify the muscles you’re supposed to be using. Practice stopping the flow of urine mid-stream; once you’ve mastered this, you’ll have identified the correct muscles. Don’t do this any more than necessary to identify the proper muscles, as it could cause you to retain urine. Once you’ve identified the right muscles (you might feel your vaginal and anal muscles tightening as you stop the flow of urine), you can practice contracting them with an up-and-in movement, as opposed to bearing down. Keep breathing normally, and relax your thigh, abdominal and buttock muscles as you do this; when doing pelvic floor exercises correctly, there will be absolutely no external evidence of your efforts.

Slow Contractions

Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles, and hold for a slow count of 10. Relax for a slow count of 10, then squeeze again; repeat for a total of 10 combined squeezes. Repeat this routine up to three times a day. If you’re not able to hold a contraction for the full 10-count, focus on holding it as long as you can with each repetition. Limit yourself to 10 repetitions in each set, slowly building up to holding for the entire 10-count as your muscles strengthen.

Fast Squeezes

Squeeze and release your pelvic floor muscles quickly and rhythmically; you should be able to count the repetitions quickly, out loud, as you do them. Perform 10 to 20 repetitions in each set, and do up to three sets per day. If you’re not able to do a full set at first, keep doing as many as you can every time; your muscles will strengthen quickly until you’re able to do the entire set. You can mix and match fast squeezes with slow contractions for a total of three sets per day; make sure not to do more than this, especially when beginning, as overly fatiguing your pelvic floor muscles can actually worsen urinary incontinence.

About this Author

Ms. Marie is an outdoors writer who’s dabbled in or obsessed about many outdoor pursuits from hiking, paddling and mountaineering to extreme snow-tubing.