Please note: This information was current at the time of publication. But medical information is always changing, and some information given here may be out of date. For regularly updated information on a variety of health topics, please visit, the AAFP patient education Web site.

Information from Your Family Doctor

Exercising Your Pelvic Muscles


Am Fam Physician. 2000 Dec 1;62(11):2447.

How do pelvic muscles get weak?

Pelvic muscles help stop the flow of urine. Pregnancy, childbirth and being overweight can weaken the pelvic muscles. Fortunately, pelvic muscles are just like other muscles—exercises can make them stronger.Women who leak urine may have better control of these muscles by doing pelvic muscle exercises called Kegel exercises.

Which muscles control my bladder?

At the bottom of the pelvis, several layers of muscle stretch between your legs. The muscles attach to the front, back and sides of the pelvic bones. Two pelvic muscles do most of the work. The biggest one stretches like a hammock. The other is shaped like a triangle (see picture below).

These are the same muscles that you would use to try to stop the flow of urine. They are the muscles you will exercise and strengthen.

How do I exercise pelvic muscles?

You can exercise almost anywhere and any time—while driving in a car, at your desk or watching TV. To exercise these muscles, just pull in or “squeeze” your pelvic muscles (as if you are trying to stop urine flow). Hold this squeeze for about 10 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Do 3 to 4 sets of 10 contractions per day.

Be patient and continue to exercise. It takes time to strengthen the pelvic muscles, just like it takes time to improve the muscles in your arms, legs or abdomen. You may not notice any change in bladder control until after six to 12 weeks of daily exercises. Still, most women notice an improvement after just a few weeks.

A few points to remember

  • Weak pelvic muscles often lead to urine leakage.

  • Daily exercises can strengthen pelvic muscles.

  • These exercises often improve bladder control.

  • Ask your doctor or nurse if you are squeezing the right muscles.

  • Tighten your pelvic muscle before sneezing, lifting or jumping. This can prevent pelvic muscle damage and urine leakage.

  • Continue to exercise. If the exercises work, continue to do them, just like any other exercises.

Daily pelvic muscle exercise log

I exercised my pelvic muscles ______ times daily.

I spent _____ minutes exercising.

At each exercise session, I contracted my pelvic muscles _____ times.


This handout is provided to you by your family doctor and the American Academy of Family Physicians. Other health-related information is available from the AAFP online at

This information provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. Talk to your family doctor to find out if this information applies to you and to get more information on this subject.

Copyright © 2000 by the American Academy of Family Physicians.
This content is owned by the AAFP. A person viewing it online may make one printout of the material and may use that printout only for his or her personal, non-commercial reference. This material may not otherwise be downloaded, copied, printed, stored, transmitted or reproduced in any medium, whether now known or later invented, except as authorized in writing by the AAFP. Contact for copyright questions and/or permission requests.

Want to use this article elsewhere? Get Permissions

CME Quiz

Email Alerts

Don't miss a single issue. Sign up for the free AFP email table of contents.

Sign Up Now

Navigate this Article