What are pelvic floor exercises?

The pelvic floor muscles give you control over your bladder and are used to urinate. They relax at the same time as the bladder contracts (tightens) in order to let the urine out.

Keeping pelvic floor muscles strong

As you get older, your pelvic floor muscles get weaker. Women who have had children may also find they have weaker pelvic floor muscles.

Weakened pelvic muscles can cause problems, such as urinary incontinence (being unable to control when you pass urine) and reduced sensitivity (feeling) during sex.

Stress incontinence is a type of urinary incontinence where small amounts of urine leak out during an activity. However, doing pelvic floor exercises can help to improve stress incontinence by keeping your pelvic muscles strong. Both men and women can do pelvic floor exercises.

How to do pelvic floor exercises

You can feel your pelvic floor muscles if you try to stop the flow of urine when you go to the toilet.

To strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, sit comfortably and squeeze the muscles 10-15 times in a row. Avoid holding your breath, or tightening your stomach, buttock, or thigh, muscles, at the same time.

When you get used to doing pelvic floor exercises, you can try holding each squeeze for a few seconds. Every week, you can add more squeezes, but be careful not to overdo it, and always have a rest in between sets of squeezes.

After a few months, you should start to notice the results. Your incontinence should improve, as well as the sensitivity you experience during sex. You should carry on doing the exercises, even when you notice them starting to work.


If you are pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, you can start doing pelvic floor exercises straight away. The exercises will decrease your chances of experiencing incontinence after having your baby.


For women, as well helping to improve symptoms of urinary incontinence, strong pelvic floor muscles can also mean increased sensitivity during sex and stronger orgasms.

A recent study suggests that pelvic floor exercises may also benefit men with problems, such as erectile dysfunction (difficulty in getting, or keeping, an erection) and incontinence.


NHS Choices

Published DateĀ  2010-07-23

Last Review Date 2008-08-10

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