Please note: This information was current at the time of publication but now may be out of date. This handout provides a general overview and may not apply to everyone. 

brand logo

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

How do pelvic muscles get weak?

Pelvic muscles help stop the flow of urine.Pregnancy, childbirth and being overweight canweaken the pelvic muscles. Fortunately, pelvicmuscles are just like other muscles—exercises canmake them stronger.Women who leak urine mayhave better control of these muscles by doingpelvic muscle exercises called Kegel exercises.

Which muscles control my bladder?

At the bottom of the pelvis, several layers ofmuscle stretch between your legs. The musclesattach to the front, back and sides of the pelvicbones. Two pelvic muscles do most of the work.The biggest one stretches like a hammock. Theother is shaped like a triangle (see picturebelow).

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

How do I exercise pelvic muscles?

You can exercise almost anywhere and anytime—while driving in a car, at your desk orwatching TV. To exercise these muscles, just pullin or “squeeze” your pelvic muscles (as if you aretrying to stop urine flow). Hold this squeeze forabout 10 seconds, then rest for 10 seconds. Do3 to 4 sets of 10 contractions per day.

Be patient and continue to exercise. It takestime to strengthen the pelvic muscles, just like ittakes time to improve the muscles in your arms,legs or abdomen. You may not notice anychange in bladder control until after six to 12weeks of daily exercises. Still, most womennotice 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 aresqueezing the right muscles.

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

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

Daily pelvic muscle exercise log

I exercised my pelvic muscles ______ timesdaily.

I spent _____ minutes exercising.

At each exercise session, I contracted mypelvic muscles _____ times.

Continue Reading

More in AFP

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.  See permissions for copyright questions and/or permission requests.