Why Kegel Exercises for Urinary Incontinence Are Incredibly Important
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, routine Kegel exercises for urinary incontinence improved symptoms for four out of 10 women. Kegel exercises aren’t simply valuable for women. Pelvic muscle rehabilitation routines can help strengthen and prevent many of the uncomfortable symptoms of urinary incontinence for both men and women.
Find out how regularly practicing Kegel exercises for your pelvic muscles can improve your daily life and ensure the continuation of the activities you enjoy.
Why Is It Important to Practice Kegel Exercises for Urinary Incontinence?
Urinary incontinence affects millions of Americans. While the prevalence of urinary incontinence is much higher in those age 65 and older, the condition can happen to anyone. In the practice of urology, there are four types of urinary incontinence:
- Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)
As one of the most common types of urinary incontinence, SUI occurs mostly in older women. The condition develops as a result of the overstretching of the pelvic floor muscles. When the muscles have been stretched, this puts pressure on the bladder. The result is urine leakage during specific activities such as exercise, bending, lifting—and even sneezing and coughing.
- Overactive Bladder (OAB)
OAB affects both men and women, although men with prostate problems and post-menopausal women are particularly susceptible. This type of urinary incontinence triggers the sensation of the need to empty the bladder—often suddenly and without warning. Many times, sleep and daily activities are disrupted by OAB.
- Mixed Incontinence (SUI and OAB)
Mixed incontinence means that an individual suffers from the symptoms of both SUI and OAB.
- Overflow Incontinence
This type of urinary incontinence is more common in men. The condition develops as the result of the body producing an overabundance of urine. Since the bladder is not equipped to hold the excess of urine, leakage and dribbling will occur.
One of the best initial treatments for any type of urinary incontinence is to practice Kegel exercises. Scientific data demonstrates that, by routinely engaging in Kegel pelvic floor exercises, muscle function can be restored, and symptoms are often vastly improved.
Kegel Exercises in Simple Steps
Obviously, Kegel exercises are performed differently based on the female and male anatomy. The overarching principle, however, is the same: to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles through tightening and releasing engagement.
To ensure you’re engaging the correct muscles, take a look at specific instructions for men versus those for women.
- Kegel Muscle Engagement for Men
Begin practicing Kegels by standing in front of a mirror. Attempt to make your penis move up and down without moving the rest of your body.
- Kegel Muscle Engagement for Women
Women can insert a finger into the vagina and attempt to squeeze the muscles surrounding the finger.
General Kegel Tips for Men and Women:
- Prevent Passing Gas Muscle Trick
Another way to ensure you’re engaging the correct muscles is to tighten the muscles in the rectum as if to attempt to prevent gas.
- Tighten for Three, Release for Three
Once you’ve learned how to engage and tighten the pelvic floor muscles, try holding the tightened muscles for three seconds. Then, release for three seconds. Repeat this tighten and release exercise ten times.
- Increase and Practice Kegel “Sets”
The hold for three, release for three Kegel exercise is considered one repetition. The goal for optimal results is to practice 10 Kegel repetitions (considered a full set) three times a day.
How Do You Know If Kegels Are Working?
Many people who practice Kegel exercises for urinary incontinence are curious if the fruits of their labor are paying off. Some indications that your diligence in pelvic muscle strengthening is working include:
- Reduced urine leakage
- Ability to hold urine for longer periods of time (fewer bathroom visits)
- Minimal incidents of underwear that feel wet (due to urine leakage)
- Increase in the ability to hold Kegel contractions for longer periods of time
Typically, it takes around 12 weeks for individuals to reap the rewards of Kegel exercises. If by the summation of 12 weeks you don’t feel like progress has been made, don’t be discouraged. It’s important to remember that everyone is different. Consulting with your urologist can help determine the next course of action.
At Urology Associates of South Bend, we work with patients suffering from urinary incontinence on a routine basis. Part of our focus is incorporating different methods of pelvic muscle rehabilitation for optimum results. We strive to help our clients improve their symptoms so they can enjoy the lifestyle to which they’re accustomed.
For more information on pelvic muscle rehabilitation or to schedule a consultation today or call us any time at (574) 234-4100.