Kegel Exercises for Pelvic Floor Strengthening

What are Kegels, what are they for, and how do they work? Kegel exercises help to strengthen pelvic floor muscles. In turn, strong pelvic muscle tone can help reduce urinary incontinence and fecal incontinence.

The pelvic floor muscles support the bladder, uterus, small intestines, and rectum. These muscles can also affect sexual function. Both men and women can benefit from doing Kegel exercises. They can be done anytime, anywhere. Strong pelvic muscles are effective for controlling incontinence while avoiding medication use or surgery.

Factors that weaken the pelvic floor muscles

  • Pregnancy and childbirth
  • Aging
  • Surgical removal of the prostate
  • Excessive straining from constipation
  • Chronic coughing
  • Being overweight
  • Diabetes
  • Overactive bladder

Who can benefit from Kegel exercises?

Anyone with the following symptoms:

  • Urine leakage when laughing, sneezing or coughing (stress incontinence)
  • Urge incontinence (strong sudden urge to urinate before losing a large amount of urine)
  • Stool leakage (fecal incontinence)
  • Dribble after urinating


Men that have had treatment for prostate cancer often suffer from weakened pelvic floor muscles. The prostate gland is small and sits under the bladder. It surrounds the upper portion of the urethra. The urethra is the pathway that carries urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. Strengthening the pelvic floor muscles will help you gain better control of the urinary flow.

Women can do Kegel exercises during pregnancy or after childbirth to improve incontinence symptoms. Those with loss of large amounts of urine when coughing, sneezing, or laughing typically will not benefit from Kegel exercises. Nor are Kegels effective for overflow incontinence (leaking of urine due to a full bladder).

Those with temporary ostomies can start Kegel exercises while they have a stoma. Once the stoma is reversed, it is common to have fecal urgency afterward. The pelvic floor muscles and the anal sphincter muscles lose tone while stool is diverted through a stoma. With the reversal, those muscles need to be strengthened.

Beginning beforehand is helpful. To get started, you need to find the pelvic floor muscles. One way is to stop the flow of urine once you start (midstream). Another option is to tighten the muscles that prevent the passing of gas via the rectum.


Once you’ve located these muscles, tighten them and hold for about 3 seconds, then relax. Repeat tightening the muscles and relaxing them several times.

Beginners may find it easier to do this while lying down. Once you have mastered the technique, try doing Kegels while sitting, standing, and walking. You can do Kegels in any position and at any time. Those around you will not know you are doing them.

Be sure to focus on your pelvic muscles and avoid tightening the adnominal muscles, thighs, and buttocks. Also, remember to breathe while doing these exercises. Do at least ten repetitions at a time. As the pelvic floor muscles strengthen, increase to three sets of ten. Do this at least three times a day.

Kegels should be part of your regular routine. Kegel exercises should not be done while urinating. This can alter how you empty your bladder. If the bladder does not completely empty, you are at risk of developing a urinary tract infection.

How long does it take for Kegel Exercises to work?

Strengthening pelvic floor muscles is just like strengthening any muscle in the body. It takes time, repetition, and a regular exercise regimen. For men undergoing prostate cancer treatment, it is best to start Kegels prior to beginning treatment, allowing time to start the strengthening process.

If you have a catheter in your bladder, DO NOT do Kegels while it is in place, wait for the catheter to be removed. Once removed, it is common to have urine leakage when standing, coughing, sneezing, laughing, or lifting something initially. The Kegels will help this.

You may start to feel a difference as early as six weeks, sometimes a little longer. If you need reminders, keep a note on the mirror in the bathroom or on the refrigerator. A small post-it on your computer at work can be used as a reminder as well.

Some men will have significant results with time. Others may keep their symptoms from getting worse. Continuing with Kegel exercises every day will keep those pelvic floor muscles strong!


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