Routine Kegel exercises are a must for all women, particularly those of childbearing age throughout their lives. The exercises are named after Dr Arnold Kegel, the gynaecologist who first described them to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. The pelvic floor in women supports the uterus, bladder and bowel and prevents a common condition known as pelvic organ prolapse affecting half the women who have had children. Check out how to do Kegel exercises in diagrams. Also, find a video below to help you do Kegel exercises.
According to Dr Johnstone Miheso, Programme Director and Urogynaecologist in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Aga Khan University Hospital, there are many ‘silent sufferers’ who are too embarrassed to seek medical help for some pelvic floor disorders yet the conditions can be prevented by practising daily kegel exercises.
Kegel exercise is a type of physiotherapy which consists of repeatedly contracting and relaxing the muscles that form the pelvic floor. The practice is similar to a lady pretending she has to urinate and then holding it.
Pelvic organ prolapse is the descending, or drooping of any of the pelvic floor organs including the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum into, or outside of the vaginal canal.
Dr Miheso explains this as a common condition among women who have had a vaginal delivery and attributes age (above 40), multiple deliveries and menopause as the main risk factors. Other causes are obesity, chronic constipation and cough and previous pelvic operations such as hysterectomies.
Describing the symptoms Dr Miheso said, “Patients may present with a dysfunction of one of the organs either bladder, bowel or recurrent vaginal discharge and problems when having sexual intercourse. They may also have urinary incontinence, or describe a feeling of a ‘bulge’ from beneath, or a sensation of ‘sitting’ on a ball.”
“About 50 per cent of women do not show any symptoms and those who do are sometimes vague because of embarrassment. A keen gynaecologist should therefore be able to identify this problem through a careful history, physical examination, or when conducting a pap smear test.”
Regarding treatment, Dr Miheso said, “Prevention through kegel exercises is the best way of managing this condition. However, when it occurs it can also be treated through surgery. The operation is usually done from down below (vaginally). When the patient has recovered from the operation kegel exercises must resume.”
“Patients can seek help in general hospitals and a majority do not need specialised treatment. By reporting the condition early people can avoid social problems associated with pelvic organ prolapse.”
Article courtesy of Dr Johnstone Miheso, Programme Director and Urogynaecologist in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the Aga Khan University Hospital.
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