The older we get, the weaker the pelvic floor in our body becomes. A woman’s body goes through multiple changes in its lifetime that requires the entire reproductive system to be on hyperdrive sometimes too. Pregnancy, childbirth, surgery, aging, excessive straining from constipation or chronic coughing, being overweight – any of these reasons could lead to a weakened pelvic floor. 

For some people, it makes the phrase “I laughed so hard I peed” true, in an embarrassing way. With weakened pelvic muscles, which support your uterus, bladder, small intestine, and rectum, accidents like urinary incontinence and passing gas or even stool can happen. The answer to these problems lies in working out the muscles of the pelvic floor with Kegel exercises. One added benefit is that it can improve your orgasms.

The word Kegel comes from the name of gynecologist Arnold Henry Kegel, who invented the Kegel perineometer (an instrument for measuring the strength of voluntary contractions of the pelvic floor muscles) and Kegel exercises.

“Women are embarrassed by the condition. And some women live with it because they believe there’s nothing they can do about it,” says Dr. May Wakamatsu, Director of Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery at Massachusetts General Hospital and co-editor of the Harvard special report Better Bladder and Bowel Control.

Mayoclinic recommends you give these exercises a try if you have any of the following problems:  

1. Whenever you sneeze, laugh or cough, a few drops of urine leak (stress incontinence)
2. You feel a strong, sudden urge to urinate just before passing a large amount of urine (urinary urge incontinence)
3. You have leaked stool (fecal incontinence)

Here are five exercises that you can do to strengthen the pelvic floor:

1. Kegel – classic 

Sit comfortably, close your eyes and focus on the muscles that stop urine flow.

Then tighten or squeeze those muscles as hard as you can.

Hold the position for 3–5 seconds. (The position should make you feel that the muscles are lifted)

Release and rest.

Repeat it 10 times. 

You can do these while lying down, standing or sitting. This is the classic method, according to Medical News Today.

2. Pelvic tilt

Lie down with knees folded and raised. Lift your buttocks towards the ceiling. 

Maintain the position for 10 seconds.

Release and rest. 

Repeat it 10-15 times, according to StyleCraze.  

3. Side clamshell 

Lie down on one side with knees bent. 

Rest your head on the arm under you.

Place the other hand on the floor in front of you. 

Pull your navel up and inside towards the spine.

Keep the feet together and separate the knees while opening the top knee like a clamshell.

Stretch the knee as far as possible then return to starting position. 

Repeat 10 times. 

According to Paleohacks, this exercise will strengthen the outer hips, inner thighs, and glutes.

4. Knee folds 

Lie on your back with knees bent and plant your feet on the ground. 

Your arms will be on the side of your body with palms on the ground. 

Inhale while you lower the right knee to the ground.

Exhale while you lift the right knee back up to the first position while tightening the pelvic floor. 

Then repeat on the other side.

Do eight repetitions on each side. 

5. Leg circles

Lie on your back and plant your feet on the ground with knees bent. 

Your arms will be along the side of your body facing down. 

Lift left leg towards the ceiling and inhale. 

Exhale and move your leg clockwise. 

Repeat eight times. Then do eight counterclockwise circles. 

Repeat on the other side. 

Here is a bonus exercise that is an all-rounder. It works on your glutes, thighs and pelvic floor.

Bonus: Squats

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Stand with feet hip-width apart. 

Bend your knees pulling your buttocks towards the floor. Go as low as possible. 

Keep your back straight, leaning forward slightly. 

Your knees and toes have to be in one line. 

While coming back up, tighten your buttocks and pelvic floor. 

Repeat 10 times.

Do three sets. Rest between sets.