When Kegels are done properly, consistently, and in adequate volume, improvement in pelvic floor strength and symptoms of incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse should be noted around 6-8 weeks.
The amount of time it takes to completely resolve issues such as incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse can take anywhere from three months to a year, depending on other health and lifestyle factors.
Kegels are a method of contracting and strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, and therefor it is important to remember that as with any muscle strengthening program, results take time and require consistency.
The number of Kegels done daily and throughout the week are vital in ensuring that steady progress is made in a timely fashion.
Research shows that Kegels should be performed with a contraction hold time from 5-10 seconds for 10 repetitions, and these should be done 3-8 times per day, with 1-2 days off per week to allow for rest.
Vaginal weights, also referred to as Kegel balls or Kegel weights can also be used to help strengthen the muscles and improve endurance to prevent incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.
An added benefit of using Kegel weights is that the muscles must activate properly in order to keep the weight in the vaginal canal. Thus, the weight acts as a trainer and helps to ensure that Kegels are done properly due to their ability to help people properly locate and contract the pelvic floor muscles.
There is a wide variance of volume required to achieve individual goals. For this reason, it is recommended to seek an evaluation and treatment from a qualified pelvic floor physical therapist.
Various factors determine how long a Kegel exercise program takes to be completely free of leaks or pressure in the pelvis. This includes how long symptoms have present (months will require less work than an issue that has been ongoing for years).
Other factors that will require more time include:
Research shows that many women are doing Kegels the wrong way. Many women are not properly contracting the pelvic floor muscles and are in fact exercising the wrong muscles.
This can lead to frustration and a lack of results. The most common way that women do Kegels wrong is by squeezing their glutes (buttocks) instead of their pelvic floor. Another common mistake is squeezing the inner thigh muscles or clenching the abdominal muscles.
If Kegel exercises aren’t working for you, it is helpful to verify that you are doing them properly.
Here are some methods of testing yourself:
Other factors such as the presence of scar tissue, difficulty with co-ordination, and nerve damage to the pelvic floor or abdominal muscles can result in Kegels are not working for you.
It is advisable to seek evaluation by a pelvic physical therapist who is specially trained in evaluating the pelvic floor muscles to assist in determining the cause and creating a plan to help you reach your goals.