Your pelvic floor muscles support the bowel, bladder, uterus, and vagina. They are a sling-like set of muscles that span from the tailbone to the pubic bone within the pelvis. You squeeze these muscles when attempting to hold in urine, feces, and gas.
The strength of your pelvic floor muscles can determine whether or not you experience incontinence. When these muscles are weakened, it can lead to urinary incontinence, the inability to control the bladder resulting in urine leakage. Pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and body changes are common causes of urinary incontinence.
There are many options ranging from Kegel exercises to electrical stimulation for urinary incontinence. Knowing which type of incontinence you have and the causes will help determine the best course of action to take.
Causes of Incontinence
When your pelvic floor muscles aren't operating sufficiently, your internal organs —in this case, the bladder— lack full support. Strengthening these muscles can minimize and even prevent urine leakage.
There are two primary types of incontinence: stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Pressure applied to the bladder, like bending over or lifting something heavy, can lead to stress incontinence. Urge incontinence, commonly associated with overactive bladder, is incontinence where the bladder contracts on its own. The bladder overrides the pelvic floor muscles, which causes leakage.
Strengthening the Pelvic Floor Muscles
You can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles through exercise. More commonly known as Kegels, these exercises require you to engage your pelvic floor muscles around the vagina, urethra, and anus by squeezing and releasing.
You can do two types of Kegel exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Each one will engage one of the two types of pelvic floor muscle fibers.
The first type of Kegel exercise has you contract the Kegel muscles and hold for five to 10 seconds and then fully relax them. Repeat this for three to five sets of 10 throughout the day.
These Kegel exercises require quick contractions of your pelvic floor to help activate the muscles stronger and faster. Quick flick Kegels need an immediate "contract, relax, contract, relax" cadence, each lasting about one second. Repeat it in cycles of five for two to three sets.
Quick flick Kegels are a great exercise to help women with urge incontinence.
Other Ways To Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles
Kegel exercises are a great way to strengthen and tone the pelvic floor muscles. However, there are other tools that can help you achieve results faster.
Pelvic Floor Trainers
Using a pelvic floor trainer can help accelerate the strengthening of pelvic floor muscles. These devices can complement Kegel exercises or substitute them entirely. To ensure you're doing Kegels correctly, a pelvic floor trainer can help you achieve perfect form.
Using a pelvic floor stimulator for urinary incontinence can also help strengthen the pelvic floor. These tools are specifically designed to help identify and engage the pelvic floor muscles. . They are not invasive and can be purchased online for use at home. If pelvic floor exercises aren’t having the desired effect, you can always try electrical stimulation for urinary incontinence.
Strengthening Your Pelvic Floor
Follow these tips, from Kegel exercises to electrical stimulation, to treat urinary incontinence. They should help you understand why strengthening your pelvic and bladder muscles is one of the best ways to resolve your leakage problems.