Pelvic floor muscle exercises, otherwise called Kegel exercises, strengthen the muscles around your bladder, vagina and back passage. This can help to stop incontinence, treat prolapse, and make sex better too. You can do this exercise lying down, sitting or standing. With practise, it can be done anywhere and at any time – even while you're watching TV:
- Squeeze and draw in your back passage as if you're holding in wind.
- Squeeze around your vagina and bladder tube (urethra) as if you're stopping the flow of urine or squeezing during intercourse.
- Now relax. This is a short squeeze. Rest for a second, then repeat these squeezes until you feel the muscles get tired.
- After a short rest, squeeze again as above. This time, hold the squeeze for as long as you can, but no longer than 10 seconds, then relax.
- It's important to keep breathing normally while you do these exercises. Make sure you don't pull in your stomach or squeeze your buttocks when you squeeze.
- Aim to build up to 10 repeats of each exercise, four to six times a day.
In the past, women were taught to practise these squeezes while having a wee. This isn't the best way to do these exercises as you may not empty your bladder completely.
Sitting on the toilet can be a good reminder to do your exercises, though. Just make sure you do them after you've finished. Once you get used to the feeling of the exercise, you will likely be able to do it at any other time.