Arnold Kegel, MD developed Kegel exercises as a treatment for stress urinary incontinence. Dr. Kegel reported success in reducing episodes of stress urinary incontinence by strengthening the muscles of the pelvic floor.
The muscles of the pelvic floor surround the urethra (opening to the bladder) and rectum. Starting and stopping the urine stream may identify these muscles. Tightening the rectal muscles (as when holding back gas) may also help to identify these muscles as they are in the same muscle group. When two fingers are placed in the vagina and these muscles are contracted pressure is felt from the walls of the vagina. The exercises do not involve bearing down or squeezing the muscles of the stomach, thighs, or buttocks. Your doctor is able to help you identify these muscles during a pelvic exam. Fifty percent of women have difficulty isolating and identifying the correct muscles.
Perform these exercises throughout the day, while walking, watching TV, or brushing your teeth, etc. The isometric contractions should be a combination of long and short contractions at least 20 minutes a day. Short contractions are held and released quickly. Long contractions are held for 5-6 seconds then released. Results are not apparent until the exercises have been performed regularly for 6-12 weeks.