Pelvic floor muscle training exercises

Pelvic floor muscle training exercises are recommended for:

  • Women with urinary stress incontinence
  • Men with urinary stress incontinence after prostate surgery
  • People who have fecal incontinence

Pelvic floor muscle training exercises can help strengthen the muscles under the uterus, bladder, and bowel (large intestine). They can help both men and women who have problems with urine leakage or bowel control.

A pelvic floor muscle training exercise is like pretending that you have to urinate, and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow. It is important to find the right muscles to tighten.

The next time you have to urinate, start to go and then stop. Feel the muscles in your vagina, bladder, or anus get tight and move up. These are the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel them tighten, you have done the exercise right. Do not make it a habit to do the exercises each time while you urinate. Once you can comfortably identify the muscles, perform the exercises while seated, but NOT when you are urinating.

If you are still not sure whether you are tightening the right muscles, keep in mind that all of the muscles of the pelvic floor relax and contract at the same time. Because these muscles control the bladder, rectum, and vagina, the following tips may help:

  • Women: Insert a finger into your vagina. Tighten the muscles as if you are holding in your urine, then let go. You should feel the muscles tighten and move up and down.
  • Men: Insert a finger into your rectum. Tighten the muscles as if you are holding in your urine, then let go. You should feel the muscles tighten and move up and down. These are the same muscles you would tighten if you were trying to prevent yourself from passing gas.

It is very important that you keep the following muscles relaxed while doing pelvic floor muscle training exercises:

  • Abdominal
  • Buttocks (the deeper, anal sphincter muscle should contract)
  • Thigh

A woman can also strengthen these muscles by using a vaginal cone, which is a weighted device that is inserted into the vagina. Then you try to tighten the pelvic floor muscles to hold the device in place.

If you are unsure whether you are doing the pelvic floor muscle training correctly, you can use biofeedback and electrical stimulation to help find the correct muscle group to work.

  • Biofeedback is a method of positive reinforcement. Electrodes are placed on the abdomen and along the anal area. Some therapists place a sensor in the vagina in women or anus in men to monitor the contraction of pelvic floor muscles.
  • A monitor will display a graph showing which muscles are contracting and which are at rest. The therapist can help find the right muscles for performing pelvic floor muscle training exercises.

PERFORMING PELVIC FLOOR EXERCISES:

Follow these steps:

  1. Begin by emptying your bladder.
  2. Tighten the pelvic floor muscles and hold for a count of 10.
  3. Relax the muscles completely for a count of 10.
  4. Do 10 repetitions, 3 to 5 times a day (morning, afternoon, and night).

You can do these exercises at any time and place. Most people prefer to do the exercises while lying down or sitting in a chair. After 4 to 6 weeks, most people notice some improvement. It may take as long as 3 months to see a major change.

After a couple of weeks, you can also try doing a single pelvic floor contraction at times when you are likely to leak (for example, while getting out of a chair).

A word of caution: Some people feel that they can speed up the progress by increasing the number of repetitions and the frequency of exercises. However, over-exercising can instead cause muscle fatigue and increase urine leakage.

If you feel any discomfort in your abdomen or back while doing these exercises, you are probably doing them wrong. Breathe deeply and relax your body when you do these exercises. Make sure you are not tightening your stomach, thigh, buttock, or chest muscles.

When done the right way, pelvic floor muscle exercises have been shown to be very effective at improving urinary continence.

There are physical therapists specially trained in pelvic floor muscle training. Many people benefit from formal physical therapy.

This information describes how to do pelvic floor muscle (Kegel) exercises to improve your sexual health and pleasure.

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About Kegel Exercises

Doing Kegel exercises can help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. This can help you manage or prevent physical problems such as incontinence. Incontinence is leakage of urine (pee) or stool (poop) that you can’t control.

Kegel exercises can also help improve your sexual health and pleasure by:

  • Relaxing your vaginal muscles, which lets your vagina be more open. This is helpful if you have pain during sexual intercourse, pelvic exams, or both.
  • Improving blood circulation to your vagina and pelvic floor. This can help increase sexual arousal.
  • Making it easier for you to reach orgasm.
  • Increasing vaginal lubrication (wetness).

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About Your Pelvic Floor Muscles

Your pelvic floor muscles form the bottom of your pelvis and support your pelvic organs (uterus, bladder, and bowel). Your pelvic floor muscles are the muscles you would use to stop your stream of urine or keep yourself from passing gas or having a bowel movement (pooping). They’re also the muscles that can contract (tighten) during an orgasm. Figure 1 shows your pelvic muscles and organs.

Figure 1. Pelvic floor muscles and pelvic organs

Identifying your pelvic floor muscles

If you’re not sure which muscles are your pelvic floor muscles, here are some ways you can identify them:

  • Imagine you’re urinating (peeing). Contract the muscles you would use to stop the stream of urine. Don’t actually practice stopping your urine stream, especially if your bladder is full. This can actually weaken your muscles and lead to your bladder not emptying completely. This increases your risk for a urinary tract infection (UTI).
  • Contract the muscles you use to hold back a bowel movement or keep yourself from passing gas, but don’t contract your buttock (butt), abdomen (belly), or inner thigh muscles. If you do it correctly, your body shouldn’t lift up at all. If you notice that your body lifts slightly, you’re probably using your buttock muscles.
  • Insert a finger or vaginal dilator into your vagina, then contract your pelvic floor muscles around your finger or the dilator. You should feel your vagina tighten and your pelvic floor move upward.

Try not to use your abdomen, leg, or buttock muscles when you contract your pelvic floor muscles. Exercising these muscles won’t help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. To find out if you’re also contracting your abdomen, leg, or buttock muscles, you can place one hand on your stomach and your other hand underneath your buttocks or on your leg. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. If you feel your abdomen, leg, or buttocks move, you’re using the wrong muscles.

Be sure to release your pelvic floor muscles completely after you contract them. If you’re having trouble identifying your pelvic floor muscles, contact your healthcare provider.

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Doing Kegel Exercises

Once you learn to correctly contract your pelvic floor muscles, do 2 to 3 sessions of Kegel exercises every day to get the best results. It’s best to spread the sessions out during the day.

Instructions

Before you start, get into a comfortable position so your body is relaxed. Most people prefer doing Kegel exercises when lying down on a bed or sitting in a chair. Once you’re familiar with the exercises, you should be able to do them in any position and in any place, such as standing and waiting in a line.

Once you’re comfortable, follow these steps:

  1. Breathe in deeply through your nose, letting your abdomen rise as it fills with air. Keep your pelvic floor muscles relaxed as you breathe in.
  2. Breathe out slowly and smoothly through your mouth as you gently contract your pelvic floor muscles.
  3. Keep your pelvic floor muscles contracted for 3 to 6 seconds (until your muscles start to get tired) while you breathe out. This is called a contraction.
  4. Breathe in again and release the contraction. This relaxes your muscles.
  5. Relax your muscles completely for 6 to 10 seconds. It’s very important that you relax fully between each contraction and that you don’t hold your breath. Always spend the same amount of time or longer relaxing your muscles as you did contracting them.

Repeat this exercise 10 times per session.

If you have pain when you do Kegel exercises, stop doing the exercises right away. Kegel exercises aren’t harmful, but they aren’t appropriate for everyone. When done correctly, most people find them relaxing. They shouldn’t be painful. If you feel pain during or after Kegel exercises, you may not be doing the exercise correctly, or Kegel exercises may not be appropriate for you. Contact your healthcare provider to discuss this.

When to progress to longer contractions

If your pelvic floor muscles don’t start to get tired after a 3 to 6 second contraction, or if your pelvic floor muscles aren’t tired after you do 10 Kegel exercises in a row, you can progress by holding the contractions for 6 to 10 seconds, then relaxing your muscles completely for 10 seconds. Make sure you keep breathing while you hold the contractions.

Your goal should be to hold a strong contraction for 10 seconds 10 times in a row.

If you’re having difficulty with the Kegel exercises, seeing a physical therapist that specializes in the pelvic floor can help. You can contact your healthcare provider for a referral.

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Support and Information About Sexual Health and Intimacy

If you need more support or information about sexual health or intimacy, you can also talk with your healthcare provider about MSK’s Female Sexual Medicine & Women’s Health Program. For more information or to make an appointment, call 646-888-5076.

The Female Sexual Medicine & Women’s Health Program provides services at the following locations:

  • Rockefeller Outpatient Pavilion
    160 East 53rd Street
    New York, NY 10022
  • Evelyn H. Lauder Breast Center
    300 East 66th Street
    New York, NY 10065

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What to Do if You Have Continued Pelvic Pain or Incontinence

If you’re continuing to have problems relating to pelvic pain or incontinence, ask your healthcare provider for a referral to one of MSK’s physical therapists who specializes in pelvic health. They can address the causes of pain or problems in your pelvic floor muscle area. You can also ask for a referral if you want support or guidance with vaginal dilator therapy or if you’re having trouble with your Kegel exercises.

MSK’s physical therapists provide services at the following location:

Sillerman Center for Rehabilitation
515 Madison Avenue (entrance on 53rd Street between Park and Madison Avenues)
4th Floor
New York, NY 10022

You can reach the Sillerman Center by calling 646-888-1900.

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Contact your healthcare provider if you:

  • Are having trouble identifying your pelvic floor muscles.
  • Have pain when you do Kegel exercises.
  • Have trouble doing Kegel exercises.
  • Have concerns about your bowel, bladder, or sexual function.
  • Have pelvic pain.
  • Want help with your vaginal dilator therapy.
  • Want a referral to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health.

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It’s worshipped in some cultures, taboo in others, but ultimately, the vagina is an amazingly versatile muscular tube with a variety of functions: birth canal, outflow track for menstrual blood, in-flow track for sperm (this list is in random order). Childbirth, gravity, menopause, smoking and obesity can all wreak havoc on the vagina and, over time, can weaken the muscles of the pelvic floor (a hammock of muscles that connect from your back to your lower abs).

Here are a few signs that your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles may be weak:

  • Leaking urine when you cough or sneeze
  • Passing gas unintentionally
  • A vaginal bulge
  • A constant pressure sensation in your pelvis
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder

The good news is that, like other muscles in your body, your pelvic floor and vaginal muscles can be strengthened with exercise (losing weight and stopping smoking can also help). Exercises that focus on your core muscles – like planks, squats, sit ups and lunges – engage your pelvic floor, so provide some benefit. But the most effective way to get your vagina and pelvic floor back in shape is by exercising the pelvic floor muscles themselves with Kegel exercises.

Kegels aren’t really that difficult, but the biggest problem I see with my patients is that most women haven’t learned how to do them properly. Often during exams when I ask them to Kegel, they will bear down or clench their inner thigh muscles instead. The best way to isolate the proper pelvic muscles is to Kegel while you are urinating. Start to pee, then stop and hold the urine in for 10 seconds. The muscles that you use to hold in your urine are your pelvic floor muscles. Once you have learned the proper muscles to contract, you can begin doing the Kegels throughout the day. The goal is to do 50 Kegel contractions (holding for 10 seconds each) throughout the day.

They can be done discreetly anywhere, so you can Kegel at your convenience. If you have a long commute, you might try doing yours at stop lights. Watching TV or checking social media might be another good opportunity to multitask your Kegels. And if you get bored with ordinary Kegels, you may want to take things up a notch with this device, which I wish I had invented: a Kegel video game.

3 Ways To Strengthen Your Vagina For Better Sex

Your workout routine is likely a solid mix of arms, abs, and ass, but there’s one body part you’re likely not paying enough attention to when you exercise: your vagina. There are a variety of reasons women may want to consider vagina exercises, including postpartum changes and medical conditions like urinary stress incontinence, but its ability to heighten sexual sensations should make it appealing to all.

“Vaginal exercises can help create more dexterity of the important muscles that influence pleasure, orgasm, and sexual response,” says Allison Moon, founder of Girlsex101. “Part of the pleasure from orgasms comes from muscle contractions.” Stronger vaginal muscles can create stronger contractions and subsequently greater release, she explains, adding that muscles also help draw more blood to the pelvis, increasing sensation.

Not only can a stronger vagina lead to stronger orgasms, but it can also help ease pain associated with intercourse. “In some cases, people who experience pain during sex can find some relief by toning their muscles and developing the ability to both contract and relax them,” says Moon.

Sure, six-packs are great, but better orgasms? Now that’s a workout perk worth getting behind. Read on for three ways to tone and tighten your vaginal muscles. Trust me, your sex life will thank you.

Keep up with your kegels

Chances are, you’re familiar with kegels, but most of us aren’t doing them the right way (or at all). By squeezing the PC muscles, these exercises target the muscles that support your pelvic floor and help maintain the strength of the vagina. “The easiest way to learn to identify these muscles is by practicing cutting off the flow of urine while peeing,” says Moon. “Once you’ve mastered the ability to cut off the flow and then relax the muscles to resume the flow, you can use this technique any time.” Consider it private training.

Try a toy

The best way to keep it tight? Take a page out of Gwyneth Paltrow’s book and add in a vaginal weight. Sex and relationships expert Kim Anami advises against doing kegels without weights, noting that they likely aren’t as effective. “Doing kegels without weight is the equivalent of going to the gym, staring at the weight rack, and then flapping your arms wildly in the air,” she says. She suggests using a jade egg with a string through it and a light-weight object tied to the other end, then using the muscles of your pelvic floor to lift it. “If you’re interested in a toy to help with your exercises, I recommend reaching out to a feminist sex toy company to find body-safe toys that work for you,” adds Moon.

Mix up your masturbation

Remix your masturbation methods for a workout that’s both fun and effective. “Variety helps your genitals appreciate a range of different sensations, which can make both solo and partnered sex more pleasurable,” says Moon, who suggests giving yourself plenty of time to relax and experience the different range of sensations. “For folks who have a hard time orgasming, it’s often a good idea to take orgasm off the table, so to speak, and just focus on generating pleasurable sensation,” she says. Look for toys that will give you both penetration and clit stimulation, and experiment to figure out what you actually enjoy.

But don’t overdo it

After reading this, you may be tempted to spend the next 36 hours strengthening your lady parts for the sake of a stronger O. Resist the urge. Experts caution that overdoing your vaginal exercises can be even worse than not doing them at all. “It’s great to do vaginal exercises for your own pleasure and comfort. However, just like any kind of exercise, it’s possible to do it too much,” says Moon. “Your muscles need time to relax and heal after working them out.” Just like all other workouts, how/when/if you do vaginal exercises is completely up to you, but if you experience pain or muscle fatigue, take a break for a while. “If you don’t enjoy the workout, don’t feel like you have to do it,” Moon adds.

You can blame it on societal standards of beauty or you can blame it on the old fashioned desire to not flaunt certain private parts, but, yeah, a lot of us have searched for the ultimate answers in how to get rid of camel toe. And, just like most things in life, it turns out that getting rid of camel toe takes a little bit of hard work and determination.

Khloé Kardashian has a close personal friend, Kamille, she’d like you to know about. No, Kamille isn’t the secret sixth sister in the famous family; she’s Khloé’s camel toe (kamel toe?). In the past, Khloé’s been ashamed of her “large and in-charge pussy” and even posted an Instagram of Kamille “trying to come out and say hi,” chastising her vulva for being so showy. Some grossly refer to this as FUPA, or fat under pelvic area.

More: Khloé Kardashian Has Some Questionable Advice for Your Vagina

But now she wants you to know that Kamille has shrunk, and it’s all thanks to Khloé’s recent health kick. “Now that I’ve lost weight, I swear my pussy has lost weight too, which I did not know was an option but thank god,” she told Nylon mag. “So she doesn’t care to be seen much these days.”

First things first: Is this actually a thing that can happen? The camel toe bump (real name: mons pubis) is mostly made up of fat, so it is possible to lose weight in your pubic area, explains Dr. Sherry Ross, a gynecologist and women’s health expert.

“Weight loss and weight gain can definitely change the appearance of your vagina, for better or worse,” Ross says. “Losing significant weight will reduce the size and shape of your mons and your outer labia, making your vagina look better and healthier.”

She explains that when it comes to having a normal-looking and healthy mons, it follows the BMI scale. If you’re overweight, your mons likely sticks out quite a bit. Drop a pants size, she says, and you should see a noticeable difference in how those (super-tight) pants fit.

But the real question is, why is this something we have to care about? I’m happy that Khloé is happier with her body now, but I feel like if there is one body part women should be exempted from worrying about, it should be the fleshy front part of our lady business. Isn’t it bad enough we have to wax the darn thing? Now we have to care if our muffin has a muffin top?

More: Women Are Getting Surgery to Hide Their Camel Toe for Good

Google “mons pubis” and the second link that comes up is the Daily Mail‘s shame-y headline, “Is mons pubis the new thigh gap? Small bump of flesh on the pubic bone is latest body part to hate.” (Not linking, not sorry.) But I don’t want to hate it! And we don’t need a “new thigh gap”!

Plus, that fat pad actually has a purpose, Ross says. It’s there to protect our tender parts from chafing and injury during sex. While you definitely want to be healthy, she says smaller is not always better, and you definitely want to have a little cushion for the pushin’ — especially down there.

Ultimately, this seems like a problem that shouldn’t actually be a problem. Whatever your mons is like, just love it and take good care of it like you would any body part. It’ll all work out fine, really. Just ask Kamille.

How to Engage the Pelvic Floor

Karly Treacy teaches how to strengthen the pelvic floor. Clothes by Elektrix Love. Mat by Maji Sports. Hair and Makeup by Dawn Sorenson. Photo by David Young-Wolff.

The key to a strong core is in strengthening the pelvic floor.

You may have heard cues in class like “Engage your pelvic floor.” But when you stop to think about it, you may ask yourself what this really means. The answer involves many layers of complexity.

A healthy and functional pelvic floor involves the proper balance of strength, flexibility, and coordination. Strength comes from using movement and breath together to stabilize and strengthen the layers of the pelvic floor, the stabilizers of the pelvis, and the abdominal muscles.

Understanding the Pelvic Floor

The pelvic floor is a matrix of muscles that live between the pubic bone, tailbone, and the ischial tuberosities—the bottom of the pelvis that we sit on (commonly called the sits bones).

There are three muscle layers of the pelvic floor: the superficial perineal layer, the deep urogenital diaphragm layer, and the pelvic diaphragm. The focus of pelvic floor work is lengthening and strengthening the muscles known as the levator ani muscles (the pubococcygeus and iliococcygeus). These muscles are part of the pelvic diaphragm.

Pelvic Floor Stability

The primary stabilizers of the pelvis are the three gluteal muscles (the gluteus minimus, medius, and maximus); commonly known as the glutes. When healthy, these muscles support the containment of the pelvic bones. Without enough strength here, the pelvis can be unstable. Strength and balance poses practiced with awareness help build this stability.

Breath and the Pelvic Floor

Consciously connecting with our breath is vital for pelvic health due to the relationship between the diaphragm and the pelvic floor. (Remember that there is a group of pelvic floor structures known as the pelvic diaphragm!) As we inhale, the lungs expand and the diaphragm descends, which pushes the abdominal organs down and stretches the pelvic floor muscles. As we exhale, the diaphragm contracts, and the pelvic floor and the abdominal organs lift. A strong and flexible pelvic floor will easily expand and contract with the breath. When these actions are cohesive, we can feel the activation of the pelvic floor in yoga poses.

Connecting to the Corset

The Transverse Abdominus (TVA) is also known as the corset because it wraps around the lower torso. You feel the movement of the TVA when you exhale completely and draw in the lower abdominal muscles. In addition to facilitating our exhalation, the TVA supports the organs in the abdominal cavity. When the TVA is weak, load increases on the pelvic floor. Conversely, if the pelvic floor muscles are weak, the TVA cannot function properly. The connection between the TVA, the stabilizers, and the pelvic floor muscles is important. Throughout the sequence shared here, pay attention to coordinating the lift and release of the corset (the TVA) with the rhythm of the breath.

5 Poses to Stabilize the Pelvic Floor

In this sequence we establish the relationship between the pelvic floor and the diaphragm. Then, we will wake up the pelvic floor muscles and learn to strengthen them through “Kegels Done Right!” Finally, we will target the abdominal muscles while stabilizing the pelvis to encourage core strength that supports the structural integrity of the entire body. One of the key principles of this approach to engaging the pelvic floor is that it’s not just what poses you practice, but how you practice them, so allow yourself to fully feel your breath and pay attention to the pelvic floor throughout your session on the mat. Like any muscle, you’ll be able to train yourself to take these concepts off the mat into the rest of your day.

1. Child’s Pose

Begin in child’s pose with the knees as wide as the shoulders so the belly can easily rest on the thighs. As you inhale, feel the breath in the back body. Open the back and side ribs as the diaphragm and pelvic floor stretch. Visualize the pelvic floor muscles between the sits bones, pubic bone, and tailbone – feel them expand on the inhalation. As you exhale notice how the ribs naturally draw back to center and how the low belly and pelvic floor draw in and up. Repeat this awareness and gentle contraction10-12 times.

2. Happy Baby

Lie on your back and bend the knees into your chest. Reach for the outer edges of the feet or gently hold behind the thighs. Relax into the natural curve of the lower spine and inhale into the back body feeling the side ribs widen and back ribs press into the mat. Feel the pelvic floor expand. On the exhalation, notice the natural contraction and subtle lift of the pelvic floor muscles. Repeat for 8-10 breaths.

Karly Treacy in Happy Baby Pose wearing Elektrix Love. Mat by Maji Sports. Photo by David Young-Wolff

3. Kegels Done Right!

Sit in Sukhasana or Cross-Legged Easy Pose.
Visualize your sits bones (ischial tuberosities—the part of the pelvis that you sit on) as elevator doors that open and close with each breath. Repeat through 4 complete breaths after each exercise.

Part 1 Attention on the Sits Bones: Inhale and feel the imaginary doors open and release. As you exhale, draw these muscles closer to one another as if you were closing the elevator doors.

Part 2 Pubic Bone/Tail Bone: Imagine the pubic bone and the tailbone are the elevator doors. As you inhale, feel these muscles release allowing the virtual doors to open. On an exhalation, draw the muscles closer to one another as if you were closing the elevator doors.

Part 3 All Together! On the exhalation, draw all four points of the pelvis closer to center (the two sits bones, the pubic bone, and the tail bone). Release on the inhalation.

Part 4 Integration: When you feel as though you can fully draw all four points to center closing the elevator doors, attempt to lift the elevator up. Imagine that there are three floors from the pubic bone to your navel and with every exhalation, challenge yourself to see how high you can lift the elevator.

Note: It can take time—even weeks—to wake up the muscles of the pelvic floor and to feel the subtleties of this movement. Be patient. Try some of the following options if you’re having trouble engaging pelvic muscles.

Lie on the back with the knees bent and the feet planted hip width apart.
Lie in a reclined position with the back supported by a block and bolster.
Try different positions and then when the muscles are well awake—challenge them in the other positions that were previously less accessible.

Karly Treacy teaches how to strengthen the pelvic floor. Clothes by Elektrix Love. Mat by Maji Sports. Hair and Makeup by Dawn Sorenson. Photo by David Young-Wolff.

4. All Fours or Neutral Spine
On hands and knees, position the wrists beneath the shoulders and the knees beneath the hips. Inhale into the back and side ribs as the sternum and tailbone reach to the sky. Exhale completely while feeling the pelvic floor draw in, the low belly become hollow, and energetically lift the inner thighs up into the pelvis. Repeat for 6-8 breaths.

Karly Treacy in all fours pose. Clothing by Elekrix Love. Mat by Maji Sport. Photo by David Young-Wolff.

5. All Fours Variation/Virbhadrasana 3 (Warrior 3) Prep

Maintain all fours neutral spine. Keep the pelvis neutral and extend one leg behind you at hip height, then extend the opposite arm forward. Continue with the same breathing pattern and hollowing of the belly as you hug the standing outer hip in and draw the inner thigh up into the pelvis. Hold for 6-8 breaths. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Now that you know how to breathe for better pelvic health, try using these foundational principles throughout your practice—and your day—to cultivate sustainable strength, suppleness, and integration of the pelvic floor and beyond.

Karly Treacy in a yoga pose. demonstrating a healthy pelvic floor. Clothing by Elektrix Love. Mat by Maji Sports. Photo by David Young-Wolff.

Karly Treacy comes from a background of more than 20 years in yoga and fitness. This mother of three credits her teacher and mentor Annie Carpenter for giving her the tools to lead a playful, passionate, and mindful life. Through her own practice, Karly healed many of the injuries she developed from years of running marathons and the births of three children within three years. karlytreacy.com

The Secrets of the Pelvic Floor

THE SEQUENCE

1. The Stress ON/OFF Button

It’s important to activate the muscles that you use cut your pee off mid-stream. To do this, contract, pull up, and hold. You should feel a tightening around your vagina, though try not to tighten your butt or upper belly muscles. Contrast this move by letting go of the muscles: Feel the base of the core relax, and then relax one more layer to fully surrender. If we learn to isolate these muscles with a neuromuscular or brain-body connection in order to activate and relax them then we have the power to control how we deal with stress and learn how to be calm more often which equals a sense of youthfulness.

Benefit: Empowers us to understand how our body deals with stress, and where and how we hold stress. It helps us to feel relaxed and calm. This will also help create more fluidity and flexibility in the hips and pelvis and connect you to the base of your core.

FASCIA BALL

2. Inner Arch Foot Roll on Ball

Place the ball of your right foot on the ball about 6-10 inches in front of you while balancing on your left foot. Inhale as you press your right foot into the ball, rolling from your medial arch (inner arch) to the front of your heel. Apply as much pressure as you can, to the point where you feel that hurts-so-good sensation.

Repeat three sets of eight rolls on each side. The ball should be placed under the inner edge of the arch of the foot on each side.

Benefit: Helps activate and restore tone and connection in the feet. This also helps you connect to the median line of the body.

Roller

Warm Up

3. Lateral Lunge

Stand on your mat with your feet spread into a straddle position, about three to four feet apart. Stand the roller up vertically on the floor in front of you. Place your hands on top of the roller, with arms extended and spine straight. Inhale as you lean to the left, bending your left leg and extending your right leg. Exhale as you hold the stretch. Repeat this motion on the other side.

Repeat 8 times on each side.

Benefit: Helps clear any blockages in the attachments of the inner thighs to the pelvis.

Smooth Out

4. Inner Thigh Roll

Come down to your forearms with your torso facing the mat, and place the roller under your right upper inner thigh. You will need to bend your right knee up and out to the side and place the foam roller up and under your groin. Taking care to keep your upper-body square to the ground as you move, use your forearms and left leg to power the motion as you slowly roll the roller down toward the knee (stopping just above it), and back up again. Breathe slowly and steadily throughout the move.

Repeat this motion six to eight times on each side.

Benefit: Creates circulation and blood flow to the upper inner thigh and inner thigh attachment to the pelvis. Helps activate and tone the inner thighs in a more efficient alignment.

5. Goddess Roll

Come down to your forearms with your belly facing the mat. Place the roller under your hips, with your feet together and knees wide. Keep your belly engaged to prevent overarching your lower back. Inhale as you slowly roll up to your pubic bone attachment. Exhale as you roll all the way down to your inner thighs toward your knees.

Repeat this movement eight times.

Benefit: Helps create openness and unwinding in the inner thighs and pelvis.

6. Pigeon Inner Thigh Roll

Place the roller about a foot in front of you and come down to your knees. Bring your left leg in front of the roller so that your left calf is parallel to the roller, and lean forward into a pigeon hip stretch, so that the roller is now at the inner edge of your sitz bone. Use your front foot to keep the roller stable and lift up into a tall spine. Keep your right leg long and straight back behind the roller. Breathing steadily, slowly roll front and back to smooth out the pelvic floor attachment.

Repeat eight times on each side, alternating sides.

Benefit: Helps create circulation and blood flow to the attachment tissue at the base of the sitz bones and pelvis.

The Triad Ball

7. Pelvis Decompression

Lay down on the mat face up with your knees bent and feet flat. Check in with the tilt of your lower back and see if you have any tense parts. Then lift your hips up into a bridge position and place the ball under your sacrum (mid-way between your tailbone and waistline).

Repeat eight times.

Benefit: The ball is an amazing prop because it helps elevate the pelvis and connect to the intrinsic and stabilizing muscles of the belly and pelvis. Helps improve posture. Plus it reduces tension in the hips and lower back while also decompressing the sacrum and lumbar spine.

8. Inverted Sacral Release

Lay down on the mat face up with your knees bent and feet flat. Lift your hips up into a bridge position and then place the ball under your sacrum (mid-way between your tailbone and waistline). Bring your knee over your hips and then inhale as you hug your knees into your chest and exhale as you hold and feel the bones and tissues of your sacrum soften and release. Inhale as you bring the knees back up over your hips and exhale as you balance.

Repeat eight times.

Benefit: Restores the balanced posture of the pelvis and frees up tension in the hips and lower back.

Reshape

9. Inverted Core Series

Lay down on the mat and place the ball under your sacrum in an elevated bridge position while maintaining a neutral spine. Bring your knees over your hips and extend your legs up to a 90-degree angle so they’re pointing to the ceiling with your heels together and your toes apart. Place your arms long by your side to keep stable and connected. Note that your spine should remain stable and neutral for the duration of this exercise.

Inhale as you slowly lower your legs a few inches and then cross your left leg over your right, engaging your upper inner thighs and pelvic floor while also keeping your lower back relaxed. Keep breathing deeply and drawing the belly in and up throughout the move.

Repeat eight times on each side, alternating as you go.

Benefit: Lifts and tones the upper inner thighs and lower abs while also helping release tension in the sacrum and lower back.

10. Roll Over

Lie on the mat face up with your feet flexed and the ball between your ankles. Reach your arms long by your sides, palms pressing firmly on the ground. Bring your knees up over your hips and then extend your legs to a 90-degree angle. Inhale as you slowly lower legs to a 45-degree angle, engaging your deep low belly and pelvic floor. Then exhale as you roll your legs, hips, and spine up over your head until they’re parallel to the ground. Hold this inverted position and squeeze the ball 6 times with your pelvic belly and inner thighs breathing deeply. Inhale as you start rolling back down and exhale as you return to the start position.

Repeat eight times.

Benefit: Squeezing a ball activates your inner thighs, and helps lift and tone the deep core and pelvic floor muscles. This decompresses your entire spine and helps you look and feel taller.

OTHER ESSENTIALS

1. Deep Squats with heel support

This type of squat is not really even a fitness “exercise”—it’s a basic human movement that we’ve stopped doing regularly. Getting in the habit of deep squatting (envision going to the bathroom in the woods) will actually help create proper alignment in the pelvis, raise pelvic awareness, and help lengthen an “uptight” pelvic floor. The benefits of these types of squats are healthy elimination, relief from constipation, and increase in connection and tone in the pelvic floor.

Try peeing in the shower squatting down. When you squat to pee as opposed to sitting up straight on the toilet, you automatically engage your pelvic floor and it naturally stretches and tones. Because your urethra is pointed straight down in this position all you have to do is relax for urine to flow out easily—as opposed to sitting up straight and having to strain to empty your bladder.

Benefit: Lengthens and tones the deep core and pelvic floor tissues and muscles, while also increasing circulation and blood flow.

2. Sex!

Having sex is not only fun, but it’s great for your body, mind, spirit, and pelvic floor—and it helps you exist in the moment. Practice squeezes and letting go…your partner will love it!

3. REBOUNDING

This is a game changer! I’m so happy I found the rebounder after I had my first baby to help regenerate and rejuevenate. Now that we know that one out of every four women in the U.S. suffers from urinary incontinence (involuntary loss of bladder control while sneezing, coughing, having sex, or laughing), it’s time to start bouncing.

I’ve found that rebounding for five to ten minutes per day can have a dramatically positive impact on building healthy tone in the pelvic floor and core, repositioning the bladder, and helping to regulate minor incontinence by activating and toning the pelvic floor while bouncing or jumping. Empty your bladder right before your jumping session (and even during, take a quite break to pee if necessary). Little by little, the tone will build back up. The Bellicon makes my favorite rebounder. It’s the BOMB, as you can do so many moves on it.

3 Vagina Exercises Your Sex Life Will Thank You For

I’ve never been the biggest fan of going to the gym, but I don’t need too much convincing to give my vagina a workout. And exercising your vaginal muscles not only leads to better sex but also is fun while you’re doing it. Though you may have heard of kegel exercises as the primary way to work out your vagina, there are also a few lesser-known but equally fun-sounding ones.

These exercises work out your pelvic floor muscles, the ones below your bladder, bowel, and uterus. You can think of them like a sling that holds of those parts in place. A strong pelvic floor is important for a number of reasons. It can help prevent urinary incontinence, which is common after childbirth. It can also help you orgasm more easily, have more intense orgasms, and gain control over your vaginal muscles so that you can tighten them as you desire during sex. Exercise in general is good for your sex life — physical fitness can boost your sex drive, and women who like working out orgasm more easily — but these ones have an even more direct relationship.

Here are a few vaginal exercises that not only are fun to do but also could lead to more fun long after you do them.

1. Kegels

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You can’t forget these. To do kegels, tighten your vaginal muscles as if you’re trying to stop yourself from peeing for 10 seconds, release them, and repeat until you’ve done 10.

To make it more fun and challenging, you can get a smart kegel exerciser like Elvie, which connects to an app that shows you how to do different exercises and keeps track of your progress. By letting you move a dot around on the screen with your squeezes, it essentially gamifies kegels.

2. Vaginal Weight-Lifting

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Yup, this is a thing, and it’s not as hard as it sounds. Vaginal weights like LELO’s Kegel Training Intimins or Je Joue’s Ami Balls go half inside your vagina and half outside, and then your muscles involuntarily contract.

“This is called a passive contraction,” the research team behind the period-tracking app Clue tells Bustle. “Weights can be paired with active contractions or other exercise at the same time.” Clue’s team doesn’t suggest doing active vaginal weight-lifting without a doctor’s supervision.

3. Squats

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Strong core muscles also make for strong pelvic floor muscles, says Clue’s research team. Pre-pregnancy fitness expert Nicole Brodie tells Bustle that squats are especially effective. “Squats are great compound exercises that work not only the glutes, but the core,” she explains. “And when you engage the pelvic floor in the movement, they work as a type of kegel.”

To do squats, stand with your feet a bit wider than shoulder-width, lower yourself until your thighs are just below parallel to the floor, and stand back up with your weight in your heels. Brodie recommends doing them against a wall for at least 10 seconds to engage your pelvic floor muscles.

Now, you can add amazing sex to your list of great reasons to exercise that have nothing to do with your looks — and everything to do with your pleasure.

The idea that you can develop a “loose” vagina from too much sex is a myth created by capitalism and the patriarchy to feed vagina insecurity and sell you dumb products. Or at least, that’s the theory I subscribe to after learning about “vagina tightening” pills and the tragically titled “18 Again” cream. I can confirm that you can have rigorous penetrative sex with penises, dildos, and even fists and your vagina won’t “stretch out.” (It might, however, feel nice and well-cared for due to all the good sex it’s having.) “Having sex and using toys is not going to cause dramatic changes in your vagina, the size, or shape, or functioning,” says Hilda Hutcherson, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Exercises such as Kegels, meanwhile, can improve the strength of your pelvic floor muscles, which support your pelvic organs (including your uterus, bladder, rectum, and small intestine). A strong pelvic floor can reduce incontinence issues, help you have stronger orgasms, and make for easier vaginal delivery if you plan on having kids — but it is not about having a narrow vagina.

Childbirth — especially multiple births — and regular old aging can fatigue vaginal muscles, but still, “The vagina is a miraculous organ that can stretch way out and deliver a ten-pound baby and then snap back into shape,” Hutcherson says. In fact, especially for those for whom penetration was previously painful, Hutcherson says giving birth can actually make sex feel better. Still, the toxic idea that your vaginal canal has to be narrow continues to persist — and manifests in the form of “tightening” products and techniques that just don’t work. Read on for ways people have attempted to tighten their vaginas.

1. “Vaginal tightening” pills.

A company on Amazon wants to sell you vaginal tightening pills for $50. You can buy a Hitachi Magic Wand vibrator for just $10 more, and I promise your body will be much happier if you do.

Save your money.

Courtesy of brand

“There is nothing you can take orally for your vagina that’s going to affect the ‘tightness,’ and I always put that in quotations. That’s ludicrous,” Hutcherson says. These so-called vaginal tightening pills contain ingredients like Manjakani extract, or oak gall, which is a tumor-like bulb that grows on oak trees. Spoiler alert: Hutcherson says there’s no way in hell it works. Inexplicably, these pills have a nearly five-star rating. “The placebo effect is absolutely possible,” says certified sex therapist Holly Richmond. “However, it’s more troublesome that women would even be in a position to think that their vagina isn’t fabulous in all of the ways.” Don’t spend your money on these pills. Use the $50 on a vibrator or martinis with friends to toast the death of the patriarchy and the fabulous vagina you already have.

2. Squats.

Don’t get me wrong: Squats are terrific if you want to strengthen your butt and quads, but they won’t do, well, squat for your vagina. Yet they still pop up as a supposed way to tighten your vag. “Unless you’re doing Kegels at the same time as you’re doing your squats, that’s not helpful at all,” Hutcherson says. (And again, for the cheap seats in the back: Kegels don’t make your vagina tighter, they make your pelvic floor stronger.)

3. “Vaginal tightening” cream.

The names of some so-called vaginal tightening creams, such as “18 Again” and “Like a Virgin,” are sexist and creepy as hell. And the bad marketing doesn’t stop there. “Sex with that random guy from the party who might have been cute lasted 30 seconds if you were lucky. But, hey, you had a tight whoesy whatsy!” 18 Again’s product description says of what life was supposedly like when you were 18.

Don’t be alarmed if you find yourself having a less than satisfying time while having sex. Initially, sex can be wonderful when you and your partner are just getting to know each other. But over time, you start to figure out that things don’t always stay that way. Your sexual intercourse is dependent on a lot of factors, one of them being how tight your vagina is. Often, your vagina can become loose. Pregnancy and childbirth are big factors in this problem. Once this happens, you find yourself not feeling good about having sex anymore.

How to Get a Tighter Vagina

We have just the solution you need. We have here a guide on how to naturally tighten your vagina and keep it firm as the days go by. All you need is a little bit of patience and a lot of strength because this involves exercising and stretching the muscle. You should start by performing some basic squats. All you have to do is look up this basic exercise on the Internet and imitate it at home. While it is mostly used to tighten and tone the buttocks, it also works to firm and tighten the vaginal muscles.

Think of your pelvic floor as a trampoline that can endure almost all kinds of stretching. You don’t need to be worried that it will stretch too quickly. However, multiple pregnancies and childbirth can easily leave the pelvic fall feeling saggy and loose. Worry not though, there are a lot of ways to get this back to its natural tight self, first with squats as we have mentioned then with some diet and lifestyle changes which we will talk about below.

Remember to only eat foods that are high in natural estrogen. This list includes yams, fruits like berries and apples, soybeans, kale and other organic items which will help you retain and regain your vaginal tightness. The best thing for any sort of healthy change is to fix your diet and the same applies for your vagina. So if you want a tight vagina, you know what you have to do!

Next, try pelvic exercises. These are specific exercises aimed at growing and strengthening your pelvic muscles. You should first start urinating and then try to stop the stream partway. Once this happens, you will automatically feel out which muscles are holding the flow in and these are the ones you have to focus on working when you start exercising. Empty your bladder and then find a yoga mat. Very carefully, lie flat on your back and start tightening and loosening your pelvic muscles. Be careful you don’t clench your butt and thighs as well. This can lead to disastrous outcomes.

If you’re really in a pinch, you should try to use chemical help: use a little bit of vaginal tightening jelly. Once you apply this on your nether regions, you will instantly start feeling tightness around and in your vagina. This is more of a temporary fix and you will do much better if you go the natural route and work out your pelvic muscles naturally.

Best exercises for pelvic floor

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