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Kegel exercises are often recommended for both men and women who suffer with prolapse. These exercises can provide relief from numerous urinary tract issues. Some of the problems Kegels can help with are chronic urinary tract infections and stress incontinence. These pelvic floor exercises can even prevent hemorrhoids. These exercises are also helpful for those who suffer pelvic-floor dysfunction and are unable to achieve an orgasm during intercourse.

The good news is that once mastered these exercises can be performed anywhere and at anytime. That is not to say they are easy exercises to perform, just discreet. However, with a little practice pelvic floor exercises can become easier. To get the most out of these exercises they must be done properly. Working the right muscles is crucial.

These exercises target the muscles wrapping around the urethra. The strengthening of these muscles assists with bladder control. Studies suggest that up to 70 percent of women who suffer with stress incontinence experienced improvement by completing Kegel exercises on a regular basis.

Kegel exercises must be performed properly to be effective

Pelvic floor exercises can be difficult for some men and women who suffer urinary incontinence because they have trouble isolating their pelvic floor muscles. However, the proper technique is essential to benefit from these exercises.

Identifying the correct muscles to exercise

The pelvic floor supports the uterus, bladder, rectum and small intestine. In order to target the right muscles, simply stop urinating midstream. The muscles you are contracting to do that are the muscles you want to be targeting, so remember the feeling. These same muscles are also utilized when you are trying to avoid passing gas. Note that it is not recommended that you perform the exercises by actually starting and stopping yourself from urinating, as that can actually cause the muscles to weaken further or result in an incomplete emptying of your bladder which may cause urinary tract infection.

A weakened pelvic floor involves two types of muscle fibers: the slow-twitch and the fast-twitch muscle fibers. As such, there are slight variations to the Kegels which must be performed in order to strengthen both sets of muscle fibers.

Role of slow-twitch and fast-twitch muscle fibers

Weakened slow-twitch muscles give urine the ability to leak when an individual does not make it to the bathroom quick enough.

Weak fast-twitch muscle fibers allow urine to leak anytime a sudden outside force occurs. These forces include coughs, sneezes and laughing.

Performing the exercises

The bladder should be empty prior to starting the exercises.

Slow-twitch  Begin performing Kegels slowly with four or five reps. Hold each rep for two seconds. Do this two or three times a day. Begin increasing the hold time each week until each rep is held 10 seconds. Once mastered, the exercise should be repeated 20 times, with 10-second holds. Make sure to breathe while performing these exercises.

Fast-twitch  To build the fast-twitch muscles, the pelvic floor muscles must be contracted and released quickly. Do this rapidly to a count of 20.

Exercise positions

In the beginning, the easiest position to do Kegels in is lying down. Once an individual is sure that she is working the correct muscles, she can move to a seated position and then eventually to a standing position. Now, an individual can perform Kegels at any time leakage may occur, such as while changing from a sitting to standing position or while coughing.

Once all three positions are mastered, performing Kegels once a day at each position is the most beneficial to strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Now, these exercises can be performed while sitting at a stoplight, standing in line at the grocery store or while lying in bed reading a good book.

When in doubt

Try performing Kegels while holding a hand mirror to watch. If Kegels are performed properly, the area between the vagina/testicles and anus should contract.

Noticing improvement

It may take between three to six weeks for improvement in bladder control to become evident. Most people notice improvement in just three short weeks. Just like all exercise regimens, if Kegels are not performed regularly, the muscles begin weakening and the bladder problems may return.

When no improvement is seen

If an individual performs pelvic floor exercises and does not notice a difference in six weeks, other options may need to be considered. One of these options might be surgical intervention.

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