A weakened pelvic floor could lead to pelvic prolapse, a condition in which your pelvic organs will actually drop, or “prolapse,” from their position within your body because your muscles aren’t strong enough to hold them. Pelvic prolapse most often occurs post-childbirth, and it can also occur during or after menopause.
The condition isn’t as well-known as it should be, considering the number of women who will experience pelvic prolapse. Fortunately, in addition to treatment offered at UGCSF, there are ways you can strengthen your pelvic floor from the comfort and privacy of your own home.
The Kegel exercise
Kegel exercises are not only easy to do, but they can be done at any point during the day in which you are sitting, lying, or standing comfortably. In order to perform the Kegel exercise, it’s best to imagine that you are stopping urination midstream – that engages your pelvic floor muscles. Tighten and hold those muscles for five seconds, then relax for five seconds (note- do not practice this while you are actually urinating, this will disrupt your pee reflex).
Eventually, you’ll want to work up to holding for 10 seconds and then relaxing for 10 seconds. Three sets of repetitions per day is generally recommended. Your provider can provide additional instruction if needed. Your provider may also advise additional repetitions or a different hold count, depending on your needs.
During the Kegel exercise:
- Many women find it easier to first practice lying down, then sitting once they feel comfortable.
- Your stomach muscles should be loose, not tight as if you were doing a sit-up.
- Be gentle when tightening your pelvic floor muscles, it should not feel strenuous.
- If you cannot identify your pelvic floor muscles or if the exercise leads to discomfort, please contact your provider.
- Do not feel bad if you can’t do Kegel’s correctly, only 30% of women actually do them correctly. If you are not sure, you can ask your provider to check.