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Are pelvic floor exercises and kegels the same thing?

Wed 24, Apr 2019

The short answer is yes, the terms ‘kegels’ and ‘pelvic floor muscle exercises’ (PFME) refer to the same actions and are often used interchangeably.

In the 1940s, American gynaecologist Dr Arnold Kegel introduced the public to the concept of exercising the pelvic floor muscles. The exercises were then named after him as ‘kegels’. 

We know that one of the terms is snappier to say, but in Australia the commonly used term is pelvic floor muscle exercises.

Specialist Women’s, Men’s and Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, Shan Morrison, said there can be confusion between the two terms.

“A number of patients don’t realise they’re the same thing. Many come in and they say, ‘I’ve heard I should be doing my kegels but have been referred for my pelvic floor exercises’,” Shan said.

It can be helpful to have a clue of where the muscle you’re working is located – at the base of the pelvis.

“Pelvic floor muscle exercises are an anatomical description of where the muscle is, which makes it easier for the patient to visualise correctly. That’s particularly important because you can’t see the pelvic floor muscle.”

“Often, we switch the words around and say it’s a muscle which is the floor of the pelvis, or use the analogy of a hammock. That can help them to orientate to the anatomy,” Shan said.

Watch the 3D animations to see exactly where the pelvic floor is.

Pelvic floor muscle training has been proven as an effective treatment—and even cure—for symptoms of urinary incontinence. 

It is important to make sure you’re doing your pelvic floor muscle exercises daily and correctly. A continence or pelvic floor physiotherapist can assess your function and tailor an exercise program to meet your needs.

Visit the Pelvic Floor First website for information on pelvic floor exercises for women and men, or call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

 


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