Note: For your convenience, this is a printer-friendly document.



Pelvic muscle exercises (PME), also known as Kegels, are an essential ingredient in improving incontinence and preventing it from worsening. They also can help you suppress the urge to urinate. The exercises strengthen and tone the muscles that support the pelvic organs. These muscles contract and relax under your command to control the opening and closing of the bladder. When these muscles are weak, urine leakage or loss may result. To achieve the best results when performing these exercises, imagine yourself as an athlete in training. You need to build strength AND endurance of you muscles. This requires commitment and regular exercise. Correct technique is also very important.

Begin By Locating He Muscles To Be Exercised:

  • Squeeze the area of the rectum to tighten the anus as if trying not to pass gas. Feel the sensation of the muscles pulling inward and upward.
  • OR

  • Insert a finger in your vagina and contract the vaginal muscles. The squeeze you feel will confirm that you are exercising the correct muscles.

Remember not to tense your stomach, buttock, or thigh muscles. Using other muscles will defeat the purpose of the exercise and slow your progress.

Exercise Instructions

When you have located the correct muscle, set aside a short time each day for 3 exercise sessions. At breakfast, lunch, dinner or before bed are convenient and easy to remember times for many women. Make it a habit to exercise at regularly scheduled times each day.

Squeeze your muscle for a slow count of three. Then relax the muscle completely to a slow count of three. Do not "push out" during the relaxation of the muscle. Repeat the exercise 15 times. Fifteen exercises is one set.

Be sure to do three complete sets each day. As you feel your muscle strength growing, increase the count to five for each squeeze and each relaxation.


Remember that this is a muscle conditioning exercise and like any other exercise it is important to do it correctly in order to gain the most benefit. Focus on isolating the pelvic muscle and continue to breathe normally throughout each repetition. Muscles need oxygen to grow and strengthen.

In the beginning, check yourself frequently by placing your hand on your abdomen and buttocks to ensure that you are not contracting these muscle groups. If you feel movement continue to experiment until you have isolated just the muscles of the pelvic floor. Don't get discouraged. This is a learning process.

It can take 4 to 7 weeks to notice improvement. If you keep a record of leakage each day, you will begin to notice fewer accidents as you regain control.

If you have difficulty performing these exercises or fail to see any change in the expected time, discuss this with you health care provider. Advice, support, and learning aids are available.

Questions or comments about this Web site may be sent to
Last updated: 09/09/09
The University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143
Copyright © 2009, The Regents of the University of California.