How to Do Pelvic Floor Exercises

So, what are pelvic floor muscles? Think of the pelvic floor as a hammock of muscles that support the bladder, bowel, urethra, vagina and uterus. If strong, these muscles can help to stop urinary incontinence, prevent pelvic prolapse and improve sexual sensation.

But if weak, there’s a chance the body could lose control of the areas the pelvic floor is meant to be supporting. Symptoms of a weak pelvic floor include urinary or faecal incontinence, vaginal prolapse, an urgent and more frequent need to pee, and pain during penetration.

Pelvic floor issues

Pelvic floor issues are particularly common post-pregnancy. Symptoms are likely to show themselves in the form of urinary incontinence or a heavy feeling between the vagina and anus (the perineum). ‘In the first year following a vaginal delivery, up to 66% of women have a degree of leakage,’ says pelvic floor surgeon Dr Mayoni Gooneratne.

In 2019, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) published new guidelines that encourage people to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles when signs of incontinence or prolapse present themselves – and there’s evidence these simple squeezes really work. The NHS found that by practicing pelvic floor exercises ‘before and during a cough or any increase in abdominal pressure, urine loss can be reduced by 73% within one week’. So, what’s the best way to get started?

Pelvic floor exercises

So, what are pelvic floor exercises? Well they’re pretty much exactly what you’d think, short exercises you can do to help train your body and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Just like you’d use squats to improve leg strength, or plank for your core, pelvic floor exercises (also known as kegel exercises) will target and strengthen the pelvic muscles and they certainly aren’t something just for women post-pregnancy, they can be really helpful for everyone to practice.

How to do pelvic floor exercises

  1. Sit comfortably and squeeze your back passage as if you’re trying to stop yourself passing wind, this should feel like you’re drawing yourself inwards.
  2. Whilst doing step 1, also squeeze your vaginal muscles, these muscles should mirror the movement of your anus and retract upwards.
  3. You should feel a clenching/lifting sensation of the front and back pelvic areas as the muscle contracts.
  4. Try hold each squeeze for a few seconds and repeat 10 to 15 times.

There are different types of training kits you can use to help with these exercises, such as the popular My Viv Pelvic Floor Training Set, which is made of body-safe silicone and designed for comfort.

Best position for pelvic floor exercises

You can learn to improve your strength, stamina and quick response by doing your exercises regularly, but make sure you’re in the right position. The NHS advises you lie, sit, stand or kneel on all fours to perform the tightening movement. As you re-educate your muscles and the area becomes stronger, you can start performing pelvic floor exercises when you really need them. Rely on your squeezing techniques as you cough, sneeze, laugh, lift, or run.

Using pelvic floor trainers: Jiggle Balls

Pelvic Floor Trainers, also known as jiggle balls or love eggs, are small weights that are designed to fit comfortably inside your vagina. By holding them inside the vagina using the correct muscles and technique, you can gradually strengthen your pelvic floor by progressing from smaller to slightly heavier weights.

To find out more, read our How to Use Love Eggs Guide.

Can you do pelvic floor exercises when pregnant?

Absolutely! In fact, many health professionals will recommend doing pelvic floor exercises in pregnancy. Your body goes through a lot before, during and after giving birth, so getting a head start and doing your pelvic floor exercises is a good way to help reduce the chance of incontinence after you’ve given birth.

Just like every type of exercise, pelvic floor exercises are most affective when tailored to individuals and monitored over a period of time. If you think your pelvic floor muscles are on the weak side, it is a good idea to seek advice from a health professional.