Certain exercises can help with urine leakage and improve sexual intercourse during perimenopause and menopause (MedLine Plus, n.f.). Do you know what are the pelvic floor exercises or Kegel exercises are?
Keep reading and learn all about them. We explain their benefits and how to do them in the comfort of your own home.
What is the pelvic floor?
The pelvic floor is composed of different tissues and muscles that are grouped forming a hammock that crosses the pelvis (MedLine Plus, n.f.).
Its basic function in the female body is to contain the pelvic organs such as the uterus, intestines, and bladder. In addition, these muscles are part of the sphincters, which means that they contribute to the action of urination and defecation (MedLine Plus, n.f.).
Why are pelvic floor exercises important?
Now, you should know that your pelvic muscles can weaken over the years. This can happen because of pregnancy, surgeries, childbirth, overexertion due to constipation or simply age (Mayo Clinic, 2021).
Therefore, certain diseases or conditions may appear. Some of them are Nocturia (the prevailing urge to urinate constantly at night), urinary and fecal incontinence, difficulty urinating and frequent urinary tract infections (MedLine Plus, n.d.).
Exercising your floor promotes the maintenance of its tonicity and strength. If your pelvic muscles are firm, they will prevent the organs they contain from having a descent into the pelvis, avoiding, and improving many of the problems mentioned above (Lindberg, 2021).
Benefits of these exercises in menopause
The truth is that exercising your pelvic area it is important at any age. However, it becomes more necessary with the absence of menstruation, that is, in menopause, since during this stage the musculature of the area is usually weakened.
Some of the benefits you get from practicing exercises during menopause are (Mercier et al., 2020; Nie et al., 2021; Nazarpour et al., 2017; Panman Et al, 2017):
- Relieves symptoms of menopause related to the genitourinary syndrome, such as urine loss and pain during sexual intercourse.
- Reduces the discomfort of vaginal prolapses such as the feeling of heaviness or pain in the pelvis or vagina.
- Decreases the risk of urinary tract infections.
- Improves sexual function and orgasms.
- Decreases urinary incontinence and fecal, if present.
- Improves overall quality of life.
In addition, exercising this part of your body during menopause prevents the appearance of prolapses and bladder diseases.
What exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor?
The exercises that will help you strengthen your pelvic muscles are the Kegel exercises. These are simple but very effective exercises. The key is to identify the right muscles to be able to do them correctly. Remember that the pelvic muscles are those that control the outflow of urine (MedLine Plus, 2020).
Furthermore, we know that there are two ways to identify the muscles of the pelvic area (MedLine Plus, 2020):
- When you go to urinate, set out to hold back the urine. The muscles that become firm with this action are those of the pelvic floor.
- You can also try inserting a finger into your vagina and then squeezing; your finger should feel the pressure of the muscles and feel when you loosen.
You can also use Kegel balls to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. These are small, weighted balls that are pushed inside the vagina whilst practicing your Kegel exercises. (Garrido, 2020).
How to perform Kegel exercises step by step?
These exercises should be done with an empty bladder and 3 times a day; consistency is important to see results (MedLine Plus, 2020).
To do them, you just must (MedLine Plus, 2020):
Tighten the muscles in your vagina as much as possible. You can do it sitting, lying down, or standing, as it is most comfortable for you.
- Hold them tight for 10 seconds.
- Relax your muscles and count 10 seconds again.
- Repeat this cycle 10 times.
Breathing and relaxation are essential when doing these exercises. These help you concentrate so that you can tighten the correct muscles and not those of the whole body. During the process, avoid squeezing the gluteal or abdominal muscles. Direct all your attention to the muscles of your vagina, while keeping the rest of the body relaxed (Mayo Clinic, 2021).
The pelvic floor usually weakens during menopause, causing very annoying symptoms such as loss of urine. However, as with all muscles, you can exercise them to improve their tonicity. Encourage yourself to practice Kegel exercises daily.
Garrido S. (2019-2020). Postpartum pelvic floor muscle training. I work to qualify for the bachelor’s degree in nursing. Universitat Jaume-I. Valencia, Spain. Available in: http://repositori.uji.es/xmlui/bitstream/handle/10234/189538/TFG_2020_GarridoCrespo_Susana.pdf?sequence=1&isAllowed=y
Mayo Clinic (July 29, 2021). Kegel exercises: an instruction guide for women. Available in: https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/healthy-lifestyle/womens-health/in-depth/kegel-exercises/art-20045283
MedLine Plus (October 14, 2020). Pelvic floor muscle training exercises. Available in: https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/ency/article/003975.htm
MedLine Plus (n.f.). Pelvic floor problems. Available in: https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/pelvicfloordisorders.html#:~:text=El%20piso%20p%C3%A9lvico%20es%20un,para%20que%20puedan%20funcionar%20adecuadamente.
Mercier, J., Morin, M., Tang, A., Reichetzer, B., Lemieux, M. C., Samir, K., Zaki, D., Gougeon, F., & Dumoulin, C. (2020). Pelvic floor muscle training: mechanisms of action for the improvement of genitourinary syndrome of menopause. Climacteric: the journal of the International Menopause Society, 23(5), 468–473. Available in: https://doi.org/10.1080/13697137.2020.1724942
Nazarpour, S., Simbar, M., Ramezani Tehrani, F., & Alavi Majd, H. (2017). Effects of Sex Education and Kegel Exercises on the Sexual Function of Postmenopausal Women: A Randomized Clinical Trial. The journal of sexual medicine, 14(7), 959–967. Available in: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsxm.2017.05.006
Nie, X. F., Rong, L., Yue, S. W., Redding, S. R., Ouyang, Y. Q., & Zhang, Q. (2021). Efficacy of Community-based Pelvic Floor Muscle Training to Improve Pelvic Floor Dysfunction in Chinese Perimenopausal Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Journal of community health nursing, 38(1), 48–58. Available in: https://doi.org/10.1080/07370016.2020.1869416
Panman, C., Wiegersma, M., Kollen, B. J., Berger, M. Y., Lisman-Van Leeuwen, Y., Vermeulen, K. M., & Dekker, J. H. (2017). Two-year effects and cost-effectiveness of pelvic floor muscle training in mild pelvic organ prolapse: a randomized controlled trial in primary care. BJOG: an international journal of obstetrics and gynaecology, 124(3), 511–520. Available in: https://doi.org/10.1111/1471-0528.13992
Lindberg S. (November 9, 2021). 5 pelvic floor exercises for anyone and everyone. Healthline. Available in: https://www.healthline.com/health/fitness-exercise/pelvic-floor-exercises