The pelvic floor is made up of muscles and connective tissues that attach to the pelvis. These muscles support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum, and help stabilize the core while assisting with urination and bowel movements.
People of all genders have pelvic floor muscles. Over time, these muscles can weaken, leading to the following conditions:
- Stress incontinence: Peeing or dribbling when you laugh, cough, sneeze or lift. It’s more common after childbirth, following prostate surgery or when there’s been an injury to your pelvis.
- Urge incontinence: Feeling the frequent urge to pee and being unable to hold it.
- Fecal incontinence: Struggling to control bowel movements.
- Anal incontinence: Struggling to control when you pass gas.
- Pelvic organ prolapse: Unsupported pelvic organs — like your uterus, rectum and bladder — bulging into your vagina or causing a protrusion from the opening of your vagina.
You can strengthen the pelvic floor by doing Kegel exercises regularly. You should follow the guidance of your doctor to ensure you’re exercising the right muscles and contracting and relaxing them the right way.
You can perform the following either seated, standing or lying down up to three times a day.
- Empty your bladder before exercising the pelvic floor.
- Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles for eight seconds (it should feel as if you are trying to stop the flow of urine), taking care not to squeeze your butt, thighs or any other muscle. Breathe naturally as you squeeze; do not hold your breath.
- Relax your pelvic floor muscles for eight seconds. The relaxation part of Kegels is just as important as the squeezing part. Continue to breathe naturally.
- Complete this sequence (squeeze for eight seconds, relax for eight seconds) eight more times.
Call your doctor if you experience leaking of urine or stool, incontinence, difficulty emptying the bladder or bowels completely, pain or discomfort, or symptoms related to pelvic floor prolapse.
Learn more about keeping the pelvic floor healthy in this Blue Cross Virtual Well-Being℠ webinar, Learn more about keeping the pelvic floor healthy in this Blue Cross Virtual Well-Being℠ webinar, Dr. Himabindu Chandraskhar Discusses Pelvic Floor Health for Men and Women. You can also sign up for future employer- or individual-focused webinars and guided meditations here.You can also sign up for future employer- or individual-focused webinars and guided meditations here.
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