Urinary incontinence is a condition that affects about 25 million North Americans, and potentially millions more that are too embarrassed to seek treatment. There are various types of incontinence: stress incontinence, which is the leakage of urine when laughing, sneezing or coughing, to urge incontinence, which is the sudden onset of urination.
One exercise you can do to remedy incontinence issues, are to practice Kegel, or pelvic floor, exercises. These are especially helpful in treating stress and urge incontinence.
Pregnant women most commonly practice Kegel exercises as a way to build mid-section muscles to better prepare for childbirth, but men may also practice them to strengthen pelvic muscles to kick their own incontinence issues. Here’s a look at how to locate the pelvic muscles. Later, we’ll talk about how to do more advanced versions of these exercises:
- Before you can do advanced Kegel exercises, you need to be able to do the basic ones. Part of doing these basic ones is first locating the muscles that control urination. The best way to identify these muscles is to begin urinating and then stop the urine stream. Hold this for five seconds. The muscles that clench are the ones you need to be working on developing and strengthening.
- After identifying your pelvic muscles, sit on the floor and work on holding them at five-second intervals. Become more familiar with which muscles you want to strengthen. Such exercises can literally be practiced anywhere – in the car, in your office, at home watching TV, etc. After this step, then you can move on to more advanced Kegel exercises.
- Deep Flex: The deep flex is more advanced than simply working out the pelvic muscles in five second intervals. The deep flex does involve doing this, but doing it with more intensity. For instance, it involves clenching the pelvic muscles for five-second intervals, gradually trying to work your way up to 10-second intervals. This exercise will strengthen the muscles more quickly.
Men and women have different genitalia, so it only makes sense that more advanced Kegel exercises are done differently for each sex. Here’s a look at how they can be done:
Advanced Kegel Exercises
For men, strengthening the pelvic muscles often involves doing so with an erection. After this is achieved, men can strengthen the pelvic muscles by flexing them to move the penis up and down. After strengthening the muscles, men can add extra weight to this exercise by placing a damp cloth over the penis. In addition to strengthening the pelvic muscles to remedy urinary incontinence, these exercises can also, in many cases, lead to a more satisfying sex life for men.
One advanced Kegel exercise for women involves inserting a weighted cone into the vagina. Similar to the routine pelvic exercise noted above, women then contract the pelvic muscles, except it’s done in a way to prevent the cone from falling out or becoming displaced. Women can also purchase a set of cones that vary in weight, so as their muscles get stronger they can gradually upgrade to heavier cones that will continue to work out the pelvic muscles that control urination.