“If you don’t you use it, you lose it” principle also applies to the muscles in the pelvis. Age, menopause and childbirth can cause weakness and looseness to the pelvic floor muscles known as the levator ani.
They wrap around the anus, urethra and vagina in the female pelvis and support the organs in the pelvis: the bladder, vagina/uterus and rectum. When pelvic muscles and their connective tissue covering (fascia) weaken or tear, women may experience urine leak when coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercising (stress incontinence), or have the sense that the bladder or other pelvic organs are dropping or pushing into the vagina. Overactive bladder symptoms can also occur with a dropped bladder, such as urgency , frequency and urine leak (the “I gotta go and I can’t hold it any longer” feeling). Importantly, weak pelvic floor muscles can give a woman the feeling of vaginal looseness, and decreased sensation and/or satisfaction during sex.
Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles (PFM) by performing Kegel exercises helps to improve the tone, essentially, of these muscles. Imagine trying to stop the flow of urine during urination, or holding in poop, well, these are the sphincter muscles that can be strengthened by Kegel exercises. The main challenge is figuring out for yourself how to isolate and squeeze these muscles. But once you have, it’s easy.
Repetitive exercises can reduce stress incontinence, help with mild bladder drop, and improve tightness and sensation during sex and orgasm.
One should always begin by emptying the bladder, then relax. Tighten the PFMs and hold it for a count of 10 seconds. You should feel a sensation of lifting around the vagina or pulling around the rectum. Another way to do PFMs is to tighten and hold the PFMs tight for 10 seconds straight and then relax. Do this 10 times and repeat 3 times a day.
Try to do 10 sets of PFMs in the morning, 10 in the afternoon, and 15 at night. Or you can do it for 10 minutes 3 times a day. In the beginning, you may not be able to hold the contraction for the complete 10 count or do 10 full repetitions. However, you will slowly build to this over time.