Located between the hips, your pelvic floor is an area of muscles and tissues that act as a hammock to support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum – all of which can play a part in causing bladder leakage.
The pelvic floor muscles can become weakened as a result of surgery, aging, pregnancy, childbirth and excessive straining (sneezing, coughing, constipation etc). Luckily, there are ways to regain some of that pelvic floor strength – and kegel exercises are a great way to start!
We’ll be going into more detail about these exercises in future blog posts, but for now, here’s a quick beginners' guide for strengthening your pelvic floor as a way to stay on top of little leaks.
First, locate your pelvic floor muscles by trying to stop urinating mid-stream. Make sure you don’t tense the muscles in your buttocks, thighs or abdomen, and try not to hold your breath. If you succeed in stopping or slowing down that flow – congratulations – you’ve found your pelvic floor muscles! (Note – once you have located your pelvic floor muscles, don't continue to stop urinating mid-stream, as this can lead to further health issues.)
To do kegels, contract your pelvic floor muscles for three seconds, then fully relax for a count of three. Repeat this combination ten times, then complete the set of ten, at least three times a day.
At first, you might find it easier to do these exercises sitting or lying down – but when you upgrade to a kegel-exercise-pro, you can do them standing, which puts more weight on the pelvic floor muscles, intensifying the workout and improving control. Imagine the tasks you’ll eventually be able to combine - cooking dinner + kegels. Hanging out the washing + kegels. At the pub watching the rugby + kegels. The possibilities are endless!
If you have trouble remembering to do your kegels, make it part of your daily routine to do them while you brush your teeth, sit at the traffic lights or sit at your office desk.
Track your daily progress in a diary to keep motivated, and remember the three Ps: Patience + Persistence = less Pee.
As with any exercise or lifestyle change, you probably won't experience instantaneous results, but after three to six weeks you should notice an improvement in your bladder control. If not – see your doctor, physio or health professional, who may be able to help you locate the exact area you need to be focusing on.
And if mitigating the experience of leakage isn’t enough to get you started on these kegel exercises, it’s also been shown that having strong pelvic floor muscles can improve your sex life, and lead to more intense orgasms. Sounds like a win-win to us!
Keep an eye on your inbox for more tips, insights and advice over the coming months.