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Kegel exercises are great for everyone but they are not the answer to every pelvic floor dysfunction scenario. I strongly suggest you pause here and learn about Kegels from my blog, ” What are Kegel Exercises and do they work”. Most guidance on how to do Kegels suggests ‘discovering’ it on the toilet but doing Kegels on the toilet isn’t such a good idea. We know these exercises are great for our pelvic floor muscles, but let’s find out why practicing them on the toilet is not such a good idea.

What are Kegel exercises?

Kegel exercises are simple contractions of the pelvic floor muscles, which are the ones responsible for supporting our bladder, bowels, intestine, prostate/ovaries and uterus. Kegels are usually recommended to strengthen these muscles, especially for women during and after pregnancy, or for people with bladder control issues. As a side note, reminding you that the pelvic floor is not suspended in the pelvis and is impacted by the pelvis stability. Pelvic stability is what gets often skimmed when it comes to the treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction; you may want to read my blog on the explanation

Why do some people do Kegels on the toilet?

Most often, in an attempt to connect to the muscles of the pelvic floor and to understand what happens with Kegels, clinicians suggest sitting on the toilet, peeing and holding the pee. Some believe that it helps them relax and makes it easier to find the right muscles to squeeze. But  this combo isn’t as fabulous as it sounds. Why?

  • Unnecessary Pressure:

When you’re sitting on the toilet, you might naturally bear down a bit to help things move along. Doing Kegels at the same time can cause extra pressure on your pelvic floor, which isn’t exactly helpful. It’s like asking your muscles to do two opposing actions simultaneously – confusing and not beneficial.

  • Incomplete Contractions:

When you’re focused on peeing, chances are you won’t be giving your full attention to those Kegel exercises. And doing Kegels half-heartedly isn’t going to give you the results you’re aiming for. To strengthen those pelvic floor muscles, you need to give them your undivided attention during the exercise routine.

  • Potential Urine Retention:

Here’s a risk you might not have thought of. If you’re in the habit of doing Kegels while you pee, you could be training your bladder to hold on to urine when you don’t want it to. That’s not a great outcome, as it might lead to urinary retention and other related issues down the line.

  • Hygiene Concerns:

Doing Kegels on the toilet means your muscles are getting a workout in a less-than-sterile environment.

  • Mind-Body Disconnect:

By associating Kegel exercises with bathroom time, you might weaken the connection between your brain and those muscles. You don’t want your brain to think it’s time to pee every time you’re trying to work on your pelvic floor muscles.

What is the alternative to Kegels on the toilet?

  • Find the Right Muscles:

Before you start, make sure you know which muscles to target. The next time you use the bathroom, try to stop the flow of urine midstream. Those are your pelvic floor muscles! That is the only time you should do this so don’t make a habit of it.

  • The best exercise for Kegels is breathing and here is how you practice that!
  • Create a Routine

I suggest doing the breathing explained in the video above 3 times in the morning before getting out of bed and 3 breaths at night before falling asleep.

  • Stay Focused:

Concentrate on contracting and relaxing your pelvic floor muscles without any distractions. You’ll get better results this way. I absolutely suggest doing the breathing exercise in the video without any interruption by others or your phone as you are doing them.

  • Mix It Up:

Do the breathing exercise first when in bed as explained above until you feel comfortable and then carry over the breathing when you feel like it. I started doing it when sitting at a red light in the car!

  • Be Patient:

Like any exercise, strengthening your pelvic floor takes time. Stick with it, and you’ll notice improvements over time.

If you have pelvic floor dysfunction, suspect you may have it or not happy with the treatments you have had, contact me.

Dr. Shakib

Recommended Reading:

Constipation, Pelvic Floor Dysfunction, and Pelvic Stability

How to Choose a Pelvic Floor Therapist?