Kegel exercises, also known as pelvic floor exercises, strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and urethra, helping to decrease incontinence and the urgency to urinate. While often prescribed for women with urinary difficulties due to pregnancy, ageing and other factors, doctors routinely recommend that men do these exercises prior to a prostatectomy to help regain control of their bladder sooner.
Determine the Correct Muscles
The first step to doing Kegel exercises correctly is to identify your pelvic floor muscles. The easiest way is to stop the flow of urine while you're using the bathroom. If this is successful, then you've got the right move. Only try this once to check your method, however, since starting and stopping your urine while your bladder is full can actually make the muscles weaker and can cause a urinary tract infection. Another way to identify these muscles is to pretend that you're trying to stop yourself from passing gas.
Be sure that you're not flexing your abdominal or thigh muscles--only the muscles around your buttocks and rectum. Also, make sure that you're relaxed and breathing normally, not holding your breath.
How To Do Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are best done while sitting or lying down, but they can also be done standing or walking. Contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold it for three seconds, then relax for three seconds. Repeat this 10 times. As it becomes easier, move up to four-second contractions and rests, and continue increasing the time until you're able to contract and relax for 10 seconds at a time.
Repeat this set of 10 Kegels three times throughout the day for best results. It is a convenient exercise and can be done anywhere--in the car, at the office, in a meeting, or laying in bed at night. You should begin to see results after eight to 12 weeks of continual exercise.
Additional Methods for those Needing Further Assistance
Biofeedback training may be helpful if you find you're having difficulty doing Kegel exercises. A trained professional will place small monitoring devices in or around your urethral area. You will be asked to contract your pelvic floor muscles and a monitor will show if you're contracting the correct muscles, as well as how long you're holding the contraction.
Another method uses electrical stimulation to cause the correct muscles to contract, demonstrating to you which muscles you should be contracting. Once this has been repeated a few times, you will most likely be able to do the exercise without assistance. It's a pain-free procedure, but is rarely used and only for those who cannot master simpler methods. Talk to your health care professional to find out what is safe for you.