To maintain your sexual health and keep incontinence at bay, you need to keep your pelvic floor muscles strong. One of the ways to do this is with Kegel exercises, isometric exercises which target the inner muscles of your pelvic floor.
Women’s health specialists Rickie Guida, WHNP-BC and the team at Alpenglow Gynecology in Littleton, Colorado, provide the best in women’s care — including help with pelvic floor health. For women struggling with urinary incontinence or sexual health concerns, we offer personalized guidance and treatment options.
Take a moment to learn more about Kegel exercises, how to perform them, and what to do if Kegels aren’t helping you reach your goals.
Kegel exercises are a great noninvasive treatment for incontinence and improving sexual health caused by a weakened pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor supports your uterus, bladder, rectum, and small intestine.
It’s common for women to have a weakened pelvic floor — especially as they age. Pregnancy, childbirth, being overweight, chronic constipation, a chronic cough, past surgeries, and changes related to getting older all affect these muscles.
Here’s how to perform these exercises:
First, you must locate the pelvic floor muscles you’re trying to exercise. You can do this by acting like you’re trying to hold in a tampon or by inserting a finger and tightening the surrounding muscles. You can also try to stop your urine mid-flow, which works the pelvic floor muscles.
Once you've identified the right muscles, exercise them using a simple “contract and relax” format: Contract the muscles for 3-5 seconds, then relax for 3-5 seconds. Repeat this cycle 10-20 times, starting low and building up.
NOTE: As you contract the pelvic floor muscles, be sure to keep your other muscles relaxed. In other words, don’t contract your leg, buttocks, or abdominal muscles at the same time. You’ll also want to be sure you’re not holding your breath as you exercise.
As your pelvic floor muscles get stronger, gradually work on holding the contraction for longer periods of time. You can also increase the number of repetitions you perform, aiming to reach 40-50 Kegels per day, spread out over the course of the day.
You can change up the intensity of the Kegel exercises, practicing some short but intense contractions and release. And you may want to try performing the exercises in different positions, such as standing, sitting, or laying on your back.
If you’re struggling with any signs of a weakened pelvic floor, it’s worth trying Kegels on a regular basis to improve your pelvic floor health. Signs of a weakened pelvic floor include:
If you have any of the above symptoms, don’t wait to schedule an appointment with Rickie. Many gynecological conditions can cause similar symptoms.
Kegel exercises can help offset some issues, but they can’t solve everything. If you’ve consistently performed Kegels but find they aren’t helping you enough, be sure to schedule an appointment with Rickie.
In addition to a physical exam and any additional testing (like checking your hormone levels), Rickie reviews your symptoms, Kegel history, health history, and any relevant lifestyle factors to make sure you don’t have an underlying condition.
For many women — especially those in perimenopause or menopause — changes to the health of your vaginal tissues relates to your changes in your hormone levels. Declining estrogen can trigger vaginal dryness, thinning vaginal tissues, pain during sex, and urinary incontinence.
If you need more help than Kegels can provide, Rickie may recommend virtually pain-free laser therapy with MonaLisa Touch®.
MonaLisa Touch is a minimally invasive treatment that uses CO2 laser energy pulses to stimulate your body’s natural healing process, triggering an increased production of the collagen and elastin — the proteins needed to rebuild your vaginal tissues from the inside out.
Treatment sessions usually take about ten minutes, and you can resume your normal activities right away, as there’s no downtime required. Benefits of vaginal laser treatments include:
After your initial treatment series, Rickie typically recommends annual touchup sessions to keep your vaginal tissues as healthy as possible.
Learn more about Kegel exercises and MonaLisa Touch by scheduling an appointment online or over the phone with Rickie at Alpenglow Gynecology.