The Main Squeeze: 4 Ways to Incorporate Kegel Exercises
It’s something women don’t talk about.
Much like how the sagging breasts and limp skin of a woman post-baby is hushed through mommy make-overs and heavy editing of IG pics, pelvic organ prolapse and urinary incontinence isn’t that far behind the hidden yet beautiful and changing body of a woman.
Of course, who wants to be open about leaking urine on themselves? “Not I,” said the duck. 🦆
While this issue may be more private, I do want to share some info about how to help women from preventing this seemingly harmless, yet pretty detrimental problem.
First things first: what is pelvic organ prolapse? This is when the organs inside of your vagina can begin to “fall through” to the outside of the vagina. This includes the bladder, the cervix and uterus, and the rectum. Just imagine, if your bladder and rectum are falling through your vagina, then those organs and its associated parts can somewhat malfunction if not in the correct anatomical position.
One can have symptoms of stress urinary incontinence, which is when women sneeze, cough, and/or laugh and leak urine onto themselves. Many women have to wear diapers to prevent soiling their clothes and oftentimes feel sub-conscious about going out with their friends and family to simply have fun. Even being sick and coughing can be a pain than what it already is! With the rectum not in its proper place, severe and painful constipation may develop.
While these symptoms may only come across as “annoying,” this disease can actually be pretty detrimental. Because these tissues may lay outside of the vagina, they are at risk of getting infected, ulcerated, and the patient may end up being septic and in the hospital.
As such, this isn’t an issue that can be taken lightly. While this can be seen in women with multiple vaginal births (as the vaginal tissues have to stretch to accommodate the child being delivered), and in women already going through menopause (as menopause basically means “no more estrogen”, which is the hormone that makes your vaginal tissues strong to hold your organs in place), this in NO WAY means that having a C-section or taking birth control pills for forever will prevent this problem, or not lead to other problems.
After seeing the many lives that were affected and just how much distress it can cause a woman during residency and my most recent rotation in urogynecology, I got serious about using my voice to bring awareness and solutions to my followers.
Let’s talk about preventative strategies: Kegel’s. While this may not prevent pelvic organ prolapse completely, like working out your other muscles in the gym, these exercises can keep your vaginal muscles strong and your organs in place.
Here’s how to do them: Squeeze the muscles in your vagina and hold the contraction for 5-8 seconds, release, and then repeat for 9 more times for a total of 10 reps. If you are not sure where to squeeze, either place a clean finger inside your vagina and squeeze the muscles around it, or pretend you are holding your urine and squeeze tight!
Here’s three ways I tell my patients to practice their Kegel exercises:
1. On your drive/commute to work, squeeze your muscles for every 8-count to the song you’re listening too, then rest for the next 8 count. Do this for a total of 10 times.
2. On your drive/commute to work, squeeze your muscles for every light you come to. Squeeze for 10 seconds, then relax for 10 seconds. Repeat until the light changes. Do this at every light until you complete 10 reps.
3. If you’ve got a bad habit, squeeze your muscles every time you do it (like every time you curse, every time you gossip, every time you think something bad about yourself, etc.)
4. At the gym, during your rest periods, practice squeezing: 10 seconds on, and 10 seconds off, until you complete 10 reps. These don’t have to be done in 1 rest period; they can totes be spread out through several rest periods.
If you already have organs laying outside of the vagina or severe urinary incontinence or constipation, please see a urogynecologist as soon as possible. Getting surgery to prevent the aforementioned complications is vital. And the sooner and the younger age at which you get the surgery, the better! The longer this problem persists, the more unforgiving the tissues get and the more difficult the surgery is to perform.
Hope this helps someone! Send it to your mothers, sisters, aunties, cousins, friends, and lovers!!
‘Til next time, happy squeezing! ✌🏾