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What are Kegels?

We could all do with more Kegels in our life. So read on to learn more about the secret to keeping your body strong, leak-free and pain-free.

Kegel exercises, or simply Kegels, are a great way to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. And whether you are pregnant or not, male or female, you should be doing them.

 

A woman drinking water after exercising

Kegel exercises were developed in the late 1940s by gynaecologist Dr. Arnold H. Kegel, as a simple way to prevent women from leaking urine. But they are also just as important for men.

Why you need to work your pelvic floor

The pelvic floor is made up of a group of muscles and connective tissue that provide support for the bladder, the uterus and the bowel. If the muscles are weakened, these organs are no longer fully supported and you may not be able to control your urine, faeces or wind.

Physiotherapist and expert in pelvic health, Heba Shaheed, says that the pelvic floor muscles are the powerhouse muscles of our body.

“The pelvic floor muscles important to help keep our bodies strong, leak-free and pain-free. They also make sex more pleasurable. But they can become weakened by things like pregnancy, childbirth, ageing and constipation.”

The impact of pregnancy and child birth

It’s no secret that pregnancy and childbirth can put a heavy strain on the pelvic floor. Heba Shaheed explains that during pregnancy and after birth the growing baby and uterus, combined with hormonal changes, creates pressure down on the pelvic floor.

“After birth, women may experience bladder or bowel leaks, back or pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse and abdominal separation. In fact, at least 1 in 3 women develop bladder or bowel control problems and leak with coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercise.”

“While leaking is common, it is not normal, and research shows doing your pelvic floor exercises is 84% successful in ending leaks,” said Heba.

Why everyone needs to do their Kegels

But it’s not just mums that need to work their pelvic floor. It’s also important for men and women of all ages to have strong pelvic floor muscles.

According the Continence Foundation of Australia pelvic floor muscles can be made weaker by growing older, surgery for bladder or bowel problems, constipation, being overweight, heavy lifting and even coughing that goes on for a long time--such as smoker's cough, bronchitis or asthma.

Pelvic floor muscle training can help everyone to not only prevent weakness, but to treat problems with bladder and bowel control.

How to do a Kegel

Here’s your step by step guide to strengthening your pelvic floor:

  1. Find your pelvic floor: To find your pelvic floor muscles, imagine you are sitting on the toilet weeing, then imagine stopping the flow of the wee. The muscles that squeeze to stop the flow are your pelvic floor muscles. These are the same muscles we squeeze to stop us from passing wind.
  2. Choose your position: The best thing about these exercises is you can do them anytime and anywhere, but it might be easiest to start by lying on your back until you get hang of contracting the pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Contract and relax: Squeeze and lift your pelvic floor and hold for 3 to 5 seconds. Relax for 3 to 5 seconds. Repeat the action 10 times.
  4. Keep them up: These simple exercises are very important – so make Kegels part of your daily routine, and your pelvic floor will benefit for years to come.

Need a little extra support?

Health Concierge

Eligible members with hospital cover can now talk to a member of our Health Concierge team for advice and guidance on how to have a healthy pregnancy, at no extra cost on 1800 789 414.#

Got a health question? 24/7 Medibank nurse phone service

Members with hospital cover can chat to experienced and qualified nurses over the phone to discuss any health questions or concerns and get professional advice on what to do next. Our nurses are available on 1800 644 325~ for round-the-clock health advice.

Medibank Mental Health Phone Support

Members with Hospital cover can talk with a mental health professional over the phone in relation to any mental health or emotional concern, 24 hours a day 7 days a week by calling 1800 644 325.~

Looking for something else?

Visit our Pregnancy homepage for a range of tools and advice to help you at every stage of your pregnancy journey.


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Things you should know

~    OSHC members should call the Student Health and Support Line on 1800 887 283.

#   Health Concierge is available to all eligible Medibank members who hold hospital cover. Excludes Overseas Visitor Health Cover, Working Visa Health Cover and Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). Some referred services may involve out of pocket costs.

While we hope you find this information helpful, please note that it is general in nature. It is not health advice, and is not tailored to meet your individual health needs. You should always consult a trusted health professional before making decisions about your health care. While we have prepared the information carefully, we can’t guarantee that it is accurate, complete or up-to-date. And while we may mention goods or services provided by others, we aren’t specifically endorsing them and can’t accept responsibility for them. For these reasons we are unable to accept responsibility for any loss that may be sustained from acting on this information (subject to applicable consumer guarantees). 

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