Should I Kegel When I Pee?
You may have heard that squeezing your pelvic floor muscles (also known as doing a Kegel) is like stopping the flow of urine. This is true, but there is a common myth that when you are pee is a good time to do Kegels and strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. Should you Kegel when you pee? If you don’t want to read any further, the short answer is no, but let’s talk about why.
Let’s first talk about how the pelvic floor muscles work. A Kegel is essentially a pelvic floor muscle contraction. When these muscles contract, they gently lift the pelvic organs and close the openings of the urethra (where pee comes out), vagina, and anus (where poop comes out). Closing off these openings helps to keep pee, poop, and gas in until you are ready to go. In order to let urine or poop out, the pelvic floor muscles need to relax to allow these to open.
Performing a Kegel while you pee (the urine stop test), can be a good test to see if you know how to contract your pelvic floor muscles and how strong the contraction is. If you are not able to stop the flow of urine, you may not be squeezing your pelvic floor muscles correctly or they may be weak. If your pelvic floor muscles are working properly, you will be able to stop the flow of urine. If you are properly relaxing your pelvic floor muscles when trying to urinate, you should have a strong, steady stream of urine.
So why is it not ideal to do Kegels while you pee? Doing this often can lead to pelvic floor dysfunction and bad toileting habits. Your body has a reflex to help empty the bladder, but doing Kegels while you pee sends confusing messages to the brain and will stop this reflex from working the way it was designed to. Doing kegels while you pee can even contribute to frequent urinary tract infections in some people!
To learn more about how to train your pelvic floor muscles to pee when and where you choose, watch the great video below with Jeanice.
So when should I do Kegels? Don’t try to do Kegels when you are pooping for the same reasons, but you can do Kegels almost any other time! When doing Kegels, it is important to practice both quick contraction and endurance holds (holding the Kegel for 10 seconds and relaxing for 10 seconds). You should also practice doing Kegels in different positions (i.e. lying down, sitting, standing, etc.)
Tip: If you are having pelvic pain, doing Kegels can actually make your symptoms worse.
If you aren’t sure if you are doing Kegels correctly, a few sessions with a pelvic floor physical therapist can help to make sure you are training the muscles properly. A pelvic floor physical therapist can also address any pelvic floor dysfunction you may be experiencing, like pelvic pain, leaking pee or poop, pain with peeing or pooping, difficulty or pain with sex.
Here are some great resources to learn more about your pelvic floor and peeing:
Ask your healthcare provider for a referral to a pelvic therapist.
Find a pelvic therapist on your own at myPFM.com. We have links to 4 free searchable databases under Find a PT.
Watch our YouTube playlist on Bladder Concerns and Your Pelvic Floor
Learn more about the pelvic floor muscles with our book: My Pelvic Floor Muscles The Basics
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The Hip and Urinary Incontinence: A Look at What Keeps Us Dry with Lauren Trosch PT, DPT, OCS
Urinary Incontinence and Urogynecology with Dr. Tessa Krantz, MD
An Innovative Way to Use Internal Electrical Stimulation For Severe Pelvic Floor Dysfunctionwith Elizabeth Makous MSPT, CLT, PRPC, CES
Vaginal Weights: Evidence-Based Research Review with Amanda Olson PT, DPT, PRPC
What experiences or tips do you have that can help others? We’d love to hear them. Please join the conversation in the comments section below.
Written by Emily Reul, PT, DPT