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Pelvic floor exercises, also called kegel exercises, strengthen the pelvic floor muscles inside the vagina. These exercises are typically considered easy to do, and consist of squeezing the muscles inside the vagina repeatedly to lift the pelvic floor. The vaginal contractions should be held for at least five seconds before the muscles are relaxed and the process is repeated. Doing these exercises regularly can improve and prevent many different pelvic floor problems.
Some women have a hard time understanding exactly where the pelvic muscles are located and perform the pelvic floor exercises incorrectly as a result. There are lots of different muscles inside the vagina, so this is an easy mistake to make. One way a woman can be sure she is using the right muscles is by stopping her urine while in the midst of emptying her bladder. The muscles used to do this are the pelvic floor muscles. This may be the easiest way to locate the correct muscles, but the exercises shouldn't be done during urination due to the risk of weakening the bladder.
Most doctors recommend pelvic floor exercises three times a day. The repetition of muscle contractions should increase over time as the pelvic floor gets stronger. A good rule of thumb is starting off with three repetitions of ten contractions per day, or as many as tolerable. The majority of women should be able to work up to three repetitions of thirty contractions a day with continued exercise.
One of the advantages of pelvic floor exercises is that they can be done discreetly. It isn't outwardly obvious when these exercises are being performed, which means that a woman can do them anywhere without embarrassment. Many women use this fact to their advantage, and make a point to do them every time they are doing something specific such as waiting at a red light, watching TV, commuting to and from work, or cooking dinner. Associating pelvic floor exercises with a routine task may increase the likelihood that a woman will remember to do them regularly.
There are many different things that contribute to pelvic muscle weakness. In most women, it is a result of childbirth, growing old, or being overweight. Even if a woman doesn't have weak pelvic muscles, it is still a good idea to do the pelvic floor exercises regularly. Weak pelvic muscles can cause urinary incontinence, bladder prolapse, or a reduction in sexual pleasure. Keeping these muscles strong throughout life can prevent problems in the future.