Pelvic Floor (Kegel) Exercises for Urinary Incontinence in Women

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Pelvic Floor (Kegel) Exercises for Urinary Incontinence in Women

Treatment Overview

Exercises that strengthen the pelvic floor muscles involved in urination are used to treat both stress incontinence and urge incontinence. To do Kegel exercises:

  • Squeeze the same muscles you would use to stop your urine. Your belly and rear end (buttocks) should not move.
  • Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, then relax for 3 seconds.
  • Repeat the exercise 10 to 15 times a session. Do three or more sessions a day.

Kegel exercises can be performed while travelling, at work, or at random moments during the day. No one will be aware that you are doing the exercises. So you can repeat them frequently.

Kegel exercises are often combined with biofeedback techniques to teach the proper exercise methods and to make sure the exercises are working. Biofeedback allows you to see, feel, or hear when an exercise is being done correctly. This can be done by placing a finger in your vagina or anus to feel it contract when the pelvic muscles are exercised.

More elaborate devices can also be used that measure the pressure of the bladder and abdominal muscles or provide a measurement of the pressure within the vagina.

Another exercise technique involves using a weighted cone that is inserted into the vagina. You must contract the pelvic muscles to prevent the cone from dropping out of the vagina. A set of cones identical in size and shape but of increasing weight are provided. As treatment progresses, heavier cones are used that require stronger contractions to keep them in place.

What To Expect After Treatment

Kegel exercises can be done throughout your life.

Why It Is Done

Kegel exercises may be used to treat stress incontinence or urge incontinence.

These exercises can be done during and after pregnancy to prevent incontinence.

How Well It Works

Women who do Kegel exercises are more likely to improve, and even cure, their incontinence. These women had fewer leakage problems a day and said their quality of life was better.1

Women who do these exercises during and after pregnancy can reduce their chance of urine leakage after delivery.2

Risks

Kegel exercises do not pose any risks to a woman's health.

What To Think About

Kegel exercises require a high level of motivation and frequent repetition to be successful.

Complete the special treatment information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this treatment.

References

Citations

  1. Dumoulin C, Hay-Smith J (2010). Pelvic floor muscle training versus no treatment, or inactive control treatments, for urinary incontinence in women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (1).
  2. Hay-Smith J, et al. (2008). Pelvic floor muscle training for prevention and treatment of urinary and faecal incontinence in antenatal and postnatal women. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4).

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Primary Medical Reviewer Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
Last Revised October 28, 2010

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