Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.
Question: Can pelvic floor exercises really help with OAB symptoms?
Answer: Yes! The pelvic floor is a web of muscles that cradle the bladder, uterus and rectum. By keeping your pelvic floor strong and healthy, you can ensure that your muscles are strong enough to prevent leaks when those urgent needs strike. Kegel exercises are great for this. To perform a kegel, first you need to find the right muscles – a good way to do this is to try stopping urination in midstream. These are the exact muscles you should be working. (Note – do not do this on a regular basis, only to identify the correct muscle group.) To perform a kegel, tighten your pelvic floor muscles while drawing in your Transverse Abdominal muscles (TA). Your TA muscles are your lower, inner most muscles of the abdominal wall and you can pull them in by bringing your belly button back to your spine. Hold this contraction for 5 seconds, then let your pelvic floor completely relax. (Allowing your pelvic floor to relax is just as important in this exercise to ensure that it doesn’t become too tight, which can also cause issues.) Complete 10 sets of these, 2 times per day.
An important note: While kegels are beneficial to many women who have pelvic floor muscles that are too loose, it is important to note that there are some women who have pelvic floor muscles that are too tight. In these cases, the pelvic floor is already so tense that they are not able to contract or relax at a normal rate, making them weak. Kegels are not recommended in women with tightened pelvic floors. If you are experiencing any type of pelvic floor issue, incontinence, painful intercourse, back pain or constipation, you should consult a specialized pelvic floor physical therapist prior to beginning any pelvic floor exercise.
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