Everything You Need to Know About Kegel Exercises

Believe it or not, Kegel excercises have been around long before reality TV and women’s magazines brought the practice to the forefront of pop culture. In fact, doctors have been recommending Kegel exercises to patients – both male and female – for years due to the health benefits they provide. As follows are the answers to some frequently asked questions regarding the exercise.

 What are Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises are used to strengthen the muscles responsible for bladder control. These pelvic floor muscles are the same muscles you use to prevent urination or to keep from passing gas at an inappropriate moment. 

What are the benefits of Kegel exercises?

The regular performance of Kegel exercises can help control or prevent urinary incontinence and other pelvic floor problems. Incontinence can occur in both men and women. Women often experience it due to pregnancy and childbirth, while men more often experience it due to prostate surgery, an overactive bladder, aging or being overweight.

How do I perform Kegel exercises?

To do the exercise, tighten the pelvic floor for a slow count to 5 and then relax. If you are not sure which muscles to tighten, try stopping the stream the next time you urinate. These muscles should be tightened without tightening the abdominal, thigh, or buttocks muscles at the same time. For those patients who still have trouble identifying the correct muscles, Dr. Miller will arrange computerized biofeedback training under the direct supervision of a therapist.

How often should I perform Kegel exercises?

Perform one set of 10 reps 3 times per day (30 total per day).  Any more than this might over-fatigue these muscles and temporarily worsen your bladder control.  After 2-3 weeks of training, get in the habit of consciously contracting these muscles when you are about to sneeze, cough, stand, or whatever causes you to lose bladder control. As these actions become automatic, you will continue to see improvement in your symptoms.

When should I start after surgery?

Although some urologists recommend Kegel exercises immediately following surgery (even with the urinary catheter in place), Dr. Miller performs a very complex reconstruction of the pelvic floor to help ensure recovery of urinary function.  To avoid disruption of this reconstruction, Dr. Miller usually recommends starting these exercises approximately 4-6 weeks following surgery.