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Pelvic floor muscle exercises

Two people doing pelvic floor exercises

Though a general fitness regime is good for you, one form of exercise is particularly beneficial in helping improve bladder and bowel control - pelvic floor muscle exercises. Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles will help you actively support your bladder and bowel. This improves bladder and bowel control and can reduce or stop leakage of urine and bowel motions. Like other muscles, the pelvic floor muscles become stronger with a regular exercise program. Pelvic floor muscle exercises are important for both men and women.

The benefits of pelvic floor muscle exercises

Pelvic floor muscle exercises can help with:

  • improving yourcontrol over bladder and bowel function
  • reducing the risk of prolapse ('sagging' of internal organs)
  • better recovery from childbirth and surgery (in women)
  • better recovery after prostate surgery
  • increased sexual sensation and orgasmic potential, and
  • increased social confidence and quality of life.

How to improve your muscle control

It is very important to correctly identify your pelvic floor muscles before moving into a regular pelvic floor muscle exercise program. There are many ways that you can learn more about your pelvic floor muscles. These include visiting:

  • a continence and women's health or pelvic floor physiotherapist
  • a continence nurse advisor, or
  • contacting the National Continence Helpline on Freecall 1800 33 00 66 for free advice and access to a wide range of information.

You should see a health professional if you have difficulty identifying the correct muscles, are unsure if you are performing the exercises correctly or continue to experience symptoms.

Remember that improved control for some may involve learning to relax your muscles. Just exercising the pelvic floor is not a self-help treatment for incontinence. If there is a problem with bladder or bowel control, it is important to be properly assessed as weak pelvic floor muscles are just one of the many causes of incontinence.

To learn more about how to correctly exercise your pelvic floor muscles follow the links below:

As with all muscles, fitness involves regular training. This applies to the pelvic floor as well. Develop it as a daily habit, like brushing your teeth.

Maintaining general fitness and keeping your weight within the recommended range will assist you in all facets of your health and wellbeing.

The Continence Foundation of Australia has developed a free, safe Pelvic Floor First exercise app to both help prevent incontinence and enable people experiencing problems to continue to exercise without further straining their pelvic floor.