Have you ever leaked a little bit whenever you laughed too hard? Or on your morning run? Or just sneezed? Sometimes it’s a few small drips and sometimes it can turn into a small stream. If this sounds like you, you may be suffering from Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). There are plenty of contributing factors into why you may be experiencing leaks: past surgeries, being overweight, smoking habits, and pregnancy are all factors that could be causing them. The good news? You’re not alone. An estimated 15 million adult women experience light bladder leaks in America alone. This also means that there have been plenty of solutions researched, created, and developed to help women improve their quality of life and reduce leaks.
What are Kegels?Light bladder leaks occur because the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding tissues and nerves are damaged or weakened, causing a urethral shift or the inability of the sphincter to shut off correctly at the bladder (ISD). The obvious solution comes to mind when the cause of stress incontinence is explained - simply strengthen and restore lost muscle mass in the pelvic floor. Kegels are exercises to strengthen those muscles. Here is a step-by-step guide to perform Kegels properly and effectively:
- Locate the muscle - The best way to locate the correct muscle is to go to the bathroom and stop urination mid-stream. Pay attention to the muscles you engage to do this - those are the pelvic floor muscles we’re meant to engage.
- Test Your Squeeze - If you’re comfortable, test to see if you’re engaging the right muscles with your fingers (you should feel yourself contract). There are also devices that can connect with your smartphone to measure and monitor that you’re performing Kegels the right way. If you’re not sure if you’re right, talk to your doctor or gynecologist.
- Hold it - Squeeze the muscle for 5 seconds, release for 5, and repeat. Once you have the practice of it down, Kegels are an easy addition to your daily routine. You can do them anywhere, anytime.