Kegel Exercises After Surgery For Men and Women

Pelvic Floor Exercises For Men and Women

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Commonly known as Kegel exercises, for Dr. Arnold Kegel who first recommended the exercises, pelvic floor exercises are used to strengthen the muscles that support the pelvis.  These muscles help support the bladder and the muscular walls of the rectum and vagina, and can be weakened by surgery, disease, obesity, injury or childbirth.  

Why Perform Kegel Exercises?

For surgery patients, the exercises can be done to strengthen muscles that were weakened by a disease process or a surgical incision.

  For people experiencing urinary or fecal incontinence, these exercises can help increase control over these bodily functions. Women experiencing incontinence after a c-section typically experience significant improvement with pelvic floor exercises.  Some surgeons recommend Kegel exercises for men to improve incontinence after prostate surgery.  Stress incontinence, which is urine leakage that happens during stress such as a sneeze or cough, may be dramatically improved.

Some research suggests that these exercises can also improve vaginal tone during intercourse which may increase sensation, and other research recommends Kegel’s as a treatment for premature ejaculation and poor erection tone.  Pelvic floor prolapse may also improved by pelvic floor exercises.

Contracting the pelvic floor muscles will strengthen the muscles over the course of a few weeks or months.  Ideally, you will perform fifteen to twenty exercises at least three to four times per day.

  Luckily, for most people the exercises can be done almost anywhere, as it will not be obvious to anyone but you. 

Finding Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

For some, the easiest way to locate the pelvic floor muscles is to attempt to stop the urine stream mid flow.  If you can stop and start the flow of urine, you are using the pelvic floor muscles.

  For others, tightening the anus as though you are trying to prevent a bowel movement is a good way to find the pelvic floor muscles. 

Contract the Pelvic Floor Muscles

Once you have discovered how to tighten your pelvic floor muscles, the exercises can be easily accomplished. Until you are accustomed to performing the exercises, start by emptying your bladder completely.  If you experience fecal incontinence, you may also want to have a bowel movement, as appropriate.  

If you are not sure that you will be able to control your bowels or bladder during the exercises, it is absolutely appropriate to perform them while sitting on the toilet, as though you are intending to urinate.  Once greater control is achieved, you can then move to doing the exercises elsewhere. 

Lying flat on your back or sitting in a chair, contract your pelvic floor muscles and hold the contraction for several seconds.  Do this five to ten times for a “set” of exercises.

Going Forward

Over time your sets should include fifteen to twenty contractions that are held for ten seconds each.

  Aim for a minimum of four sets per day for the best results.  Once you reach this level, you may begin to notice that it is easier to control your urine stream, or even your bowel movements, as your pelvic floor is getting stronger.  You may choose to continue starting and stopping your urine stream as an additional opportunity to exercise your pelvic floor muscles, but this is not necessary. 

For some, it may take weeks or even months before improvement is noticeable.  It is important to continue doing the exercises as part of your daily routine as improvement is often gradual.  For the majority of patients, improvement is noted at the three month mark.

Opportunities for Kegel Exercises

Some people are very creative when looking for opportunities to perform Kegel exercises.  Once you are able to perform Kegel exercises without the risk of an episode of incontinence, consider red lights, commercial breaks and waiting in lines to be an opportunity to complete another set of contractions. For others, setting an alarm or another type of reminder may be necessary in order to complete exercises through the day. 

Sources:

Kegel Exercises For Men. Urology at UCLA. Accessed August, 2014. http://urology.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=524

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