Why do I exercise my pelvic floor muscles?

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Barbara J. Depree, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Great question! It's hard to realize the benefit of pelvic floor exercises on a day to day basis. It's not like strengthening your biceps and seeing the progress that is being made as you progress up to heavier weights. Think of the pelvic floor as being supported by a trampoline-like support, with more time, more use, aging, births, gravity, etc that firm support becomes more lax and less taut. Doing pelvic floor exercises can keep that 'trampoline' stronger. The benefits of improved pelvic floor tone lead to less likelihood of pelvic organ prolapse (POP), less urinary incontinence, and improved function with sex. If the front or back wall of the vagina weakens it can result in a cystocele or rectocele, making bladder and bowel function more challenging. The uterus can drop lower and cause discomfort. Leaking urine with a cough, laugh, sneeze, bending over or other actvities is called stress urinary incontinence (SUI).
Great pelvic floor tone can decrease the likelihood of this occuring. Sexually, women with better tone, will note stronger orgasms (an orgasm involves contractions of the pelvic floor) and intercourse may be more pleasurable for the partner with better pelvic muscle tone. Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, can be performed at any time, in any location. There are pelvic floor exercise tools, or vaginal weights, that can help give a woman feedback on how strong the muscles are getting with exercise. Using an exercise tool may help a woman understand how to best contract her pelvic floor and do the exercises properly, and gauge progress. This seems like a compelling list of reasons to keep that pelvic floor strong and fit!
Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
The muscles forming the floor of the pelvic cavity act as a sling that supports the pelvic organs (bladder, bowel, and penis or uterus). When muscle tone is poor, the pelvic floor does not support the organs as well and women are likely to develop uterine prolapse and urinary stress incontinence (loss of bladder control). That is why pelvic floor exercises were originally developed for women. However, when these muscles are toned and conditioned through exercise, both men and women experience increased sexual pleasure (and women also experience a noticeable improvement in bladder control). These exercises should be started around age forty and should be continued throughout your lifetime.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.