How do I do a Kegel (A Pelvic Floor Contraction)?: Instructions for Women

Pelvic Floor contractions, often called Kegels, can be very helpful for strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor. The challenge is figuring out what you are actually doing and how to actually contract the muscle.

Here are some guidelines to get you started:

In women, the muscles isolated in pelvic floor exercises are shaped like a figure eight, curving in front around the vaginal opening and urethra, and the crossing at the perineal body to meet the external sphincter ani, which curves back around the anus. When you perform pelvic floor exercises, you will feel a tightening of the entire figure eight, contracting the urethra, the vagina, and the anus.

The easiest way to figure out what you are doing is to imagine how you “hold in” gas when you are in public. This is the same kind of contraction that you use to do a pelvic floor contraction, also called a Kegel exercise (For Dr. Kegel, who popularized the practice).

Another simple way to make sure you are contracting the right muscles is that, the next time you are urinating, try to stop the flow of urine mid-stream. You should not do this on a regular basis, as it can cause bacteria to move back up the urethra and is bad for your bladder. But you can try it once or twice to make sure you are isolating the right muscles.

Once you’ve figured out how to contract the right muscle, make a deliberate effort to contract – you will feel like you are lifting up your anus, your vagina, and your urethra, into the core of your body. Hold for a count of three, and release.

Once you feel comfortable with the basics of doing a pelvic floor contraction, or a kegel, you can learn additional exercises to support your pelvic floor strength.

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