Kegels Don't Work? Five Kegel Mistakes You Could Be Making

by Alyce Adams, RN, BSN

We've all heard about kegels, exercises for the pelvic floor muscles. You know you should do them -- because kegels can help you stop peeing in your pants, reduce or eliminate prolapse symptoms (cystocele, rectocele, or uterine prolapse), and revolutionize your sex life. But a lot of women think kegels just don't work, because they do them wrong.

Getting accurate information about kegels can be like finding a needle in a haystack! If you're lucky enough to have a doctor who recommends and teaches kegels, you may have gotten a few minutes' worth of instruction, and that information may or may not be correct and current. If you've looked for kegel information online, you've probably seen a zillion brief, vague instruction pages, which probably contradict each other (and may not have their facts right either). And you've seen a zillion different kegel devices you can buy, none of which you actually need.

Here are some of the most common kegel mistakes women make.

Kegel Mistake #1: Moving the wrong muscles
Many women mistakenly contract the muscles of their abdomen, legs, or buttocks instead of the muscles of the pelvic floor. It goes without saying that if you're not exercising the pelvic floor, you won't get the benefits of pelvic floor exercise!

Kegel Mistake #2: The wrong movement with the right muscles
Some women push the pelvic floor out and down, instead of pulling it up and forward. This is not only incorrect, it's dangerous. Making a habit of this incorrect movement can damage the pelvic floor and cause incontinence and prolapse, or make them worse.

Kegel Mistake #3: Hundreds of kegels a day
I've seen any number of health experts recommend that women do 100, 200, or more kegels every day. But this is overkill on a massive scale! It's like taking your entire bottle of multivitamins in one sitting, when all you needed was the one pill. It's also completely unrealistic -- I call the hundreds of kegels a day method the "quit your job plan," because how else are you going to get all those kegels done? And if you did manage to do that many kegels, you could end up with problems from overworking the muscles.

Kegel Mistake #4: Fast, light kegel squeezes
A lot of women do kegels like this: squeeze, release, squeeze, release, rhythmically, and they don't hold the squeeze at all. In reality, the only effective way to do kegels is to do the strongest kegel you can, and hold the squeeze. That's how you build strength and bulk in the pelvic floor muscles.

Kegel Mistake #5: Making kegels complicated
I wish I had a dollar for every kegel device that is sitting unused, gathering dust in the back of someone's underwear drawer at this very moment. If you're using a kegel exercise device, you need to take your pants off and have total privacy every time you do kegels, keep the device clean, and bring it with you everywhere you go. With all that extra work, how long is your kegel exercise program going to last? Realistically? An effective kegel practice is a sustainable kegel practice. Making your kegel workout simple and easy is important, and with a device it just isn't as simple as it can be.

If you've been doing kegels wrong, you're not alone. There's a lot of misinformation out there! Get the facts, and do kegels right. It could change your life!

Alyce Adams, RN, the Kegel Queen, has been a registered nurse since 2001 and is the mother of one. She offers complete and detailed instructions for her original, research-based, fun and easy kegel program, teaching women everything about how to do kegels right in a two-hour course, at

All Kegel Queen informational material, including the material presented here, is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for medical advice or other medical care.