To Kegel or not to Kegel?
Many people think the answer to any pelvic floor issue is the famous Kegel exercise. But is it always this simple?
First of all, a Kegel exercise consists of repeating a series of muscle contractions in an effort to strengthen the pelvic floor and support the organs. With proper guidance, this type of exercise can be helpful for a variety of problems or conditions, including urinary incontinence, ano-rectal incontinence,and difficulties with pelvic organ prolapse. So if the pelvic floor dysfunction is related to muscle weakness or injury, Kegel exercises may be a step in the right direction to solving this problem. This is provided that the technique is being performed properly and in unison with a dynamic functioning system.
But what if issue is caused by overactivity of the pelvic floor muscles? It is important to recognize that not all pelvic floor issues are related to weakness. Many problems that people face can be caused by tissues of the pelvic floor that are too tight or have difficulty relaxing. Such conditions may include difficulty emptying the bladder, difficulty or pain with stool evacuation, and pain during intercourse. Exercising the pelvic floor muscles in this case may actually exacerbate the problem instead of fixing it.
So to Kegel or not to Kegel? This question should be answered in consultation with a pelvic floor physiotherapist who can evaluate the source of the problem, as the answer is not always so clear!