Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises For Women

Let's yarn about women's business

Cover picture

The pelvic floor muscles

The pelvic floor muscles are important for keeping in your pee and poo. They hold up the bladder (pee bag), womb (baby bag) and the bowel (back passage).

These muscles are between your legs, around your vagina (front/ birth passage) and bowel (back passage). They stretch like a sling ladder from the front bone to the tailbone.

If these muscles are weak, pee and poo might leak out.


Why your pelvic floor muscles weaken

  • Being pregnant and having babies
  • Hard poo (constipation) and pushing to empty your bowel
  • Being overweight (too heavy)
  • Lifting heavy things
  • Coughing (such as asthma or smoker’s cough)
  • Getting older

Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to a prolapse. This is when the womb, bladder or bowel sags down into your vagina (front/birth passage).


To stop these things happening

  • Make your pelvic floor muscles work better by learning how to exercise these muscles
  • Don’t push in the toilet when doing poo
  • Keep a healthy weight
  • Make good choices with food and drinks:
    • eat lots of fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds and grains, and
    • try to drink 6 mugs of water a day.
Healthy foods
  • Look after your pelvic floor muscles
  • Squeeze up and hold your pelvic floor muscles before you sneeze, cough or lift
  • Try not to lift anything heavy
  • A ring (pessary) can be fitted into the birth passage to help a prolapse (this stops the sagging by holding up the prolapse)
  • Sit on the toilet the right way.
Stretchec pelvic floor in men

How to do your pelvic floor exercises

It’s important that you work the right muscles. If you are not sure about the right muscles, talk to your health worker, nurse, physiotherapist or doctor.

Try to do this exercise:

  • Pull your vagina (front/birth passage) up inside you. Pull up from below, and squeeze and hold. This is like holding in pee or stopping a pee once it has started.
  • Tighten the ring of muscle around the back passage, like you are holding in a fart.
  • Try to do both these front and back muscle pull-ups at the same time.
  • Hold the lift for 2 or 3 normal breaths
Stretchec pelvic floor in men
  • You should feel:
    • a lifting up from below, and
    • a squeezing and lifting in the muscles around your front and back passages.
  • You should not feel:
    • your bum cheeks squeezing together
    • you are holding your breath, or
    • your belly muscles are moving.

You can do these exercises any time of the day, such as when you are washing your hands, in the shower, or when you are sitting and yarning.


Times to protect your pelvic floor muscles so you don’t stretch them

Some things cause sudden pushing and stretching to your pelvic floor, like when you:

  • cough
  • sneeze
  • laugh
  • lift things
  • hold up baby, or
  • get out of bed.

Do a pelvic floor exercise at the same time you do any of these things. This protects your muscles from stretching.

Healthy foods

You will need to work hard at these exercises

It takes time to build your strength.

Get into a habit of doing these exercises all your life.

Talk to your health worker, nurse, physiotherapist or doctor to help you.

It is important to ask your health worker, nurse, physiotherapist or doctor for help if you:

  • rush to get to the toilet to pee or poo
  • have burning or stinging if you pass pee
  • have to push to make the pee start
  • can’t hold in a fart, or
  • have discharge or smell from the front passage.

Talk to your health worker, nurse, physiotherapist or doctor

Who can help?

  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health service
  • Health workers
  • Nurses
  • Physiotherapists
  • Doctors
  • National Continence Helpline Freecall™ 1800 33 00 66
Talk about your problem
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This series of brochures has been developed by the Continence Foundation of Australia and funded under
the Australian Government’s National Continence Management Strategy.

Indigenous artwork created by Georgina Altona and Warwick Keen.
Other illustrations by JAT Illustrational and Fusebox Design.

© 2010

All information in this publication is correct as at August 2012