Pelvic floor (video)

Your pelvic floor muscles stretch from the bottom of your pelvis and support your bowel and bladder, and your uterus if you’re a woman. Strong pelvic floor muscles also help control urination and bowel movements, normal sexual function, and stability of the abdomen and spine.

Like other muscles, your pelvic floor can become weak. Factors that can contribute to this include age, childbirth, constipation, obesity, chronic cough, heavy lifting, and abdominal or pelvic surgery.

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How to find your pelvic floor muscles

To identify your pelvic floor muscles, try stopping your urine stream for a couple of seconds while emptying your bladder. You use your pelvic floor muscles to do this. Another way is to feel the muscles you use when you imagine stopping the flow of urine and holding in wind. This can be done standing, sitting or lying down.

Tips for good technique

Poor technique can make pelvic floor exercises ineffective or even risk injury. Remember these points:

  • Do not hold your breath.
  • Do not tighten your tummy above the belly button. Focus on pulling up and holding onto urine and wind.
  • Do not try too hard. You may end up contracting nearby muscles rather than the pelvic floor muscles themselves. Try changing positions if you can’t feel the pelvic floor muscles lifting and squeezing.

How to exercise your pelvic floor muscles

Pelvic floor exercises should be done several times a day. You can be standing, sitting or lying down. You can even do them while watching TV or waiting at traffic lights. 

The technique is the same for men and women.

  1. Start by relaxing all of your pelvic floor and tummy (abdominal) muscles.
  2. Gently lift your pelvic floor muscles up and hold while you continue breathing normally. Try to hold the contraction for up to 10 seconds. Relax your muscles slowly after each hold.
  3. Repeat the exercise up to 10 times, with a rest of 10–20 seconds between contractions. Relax your pelvic floor muscles completely during the rest periods.

Seeing a pelvic floor expert

Continence nurses and pelvic floor physiotherapists specialise in pelvic floor exercises. They can assess your pelvic floor function and tailor an exercise program to meet your needs. See a continence nurse or physiotherapist before doing pelvic floor exercises if you:

  • have had recent pelvic or abdominal surgery
  • have problems with urine or faeces leaking when coughing, sneezing, laughing or exercising
  • often need to go to the toilet urgently
  • have difficulty controlling bowel movements and wind
  • feel like you haven’t fully emptied your bowel after bowel movements
  • have dragging, heaviness or a bulge in the vagina
  • experience a lack of sensation during sex.

For a list of continence nurses and pelvic floor physiotherapists, search the directory at or call the National Continence Helpline on 1800 33 00 66.

To find out about exercises that place less stress on your pelvic floor, you can download the Pelvic Floor First app from the App Store (Apple) or Google Play (Android). To find out more, see

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To download an EPUB to your Kobo from a Mac:

  • download and save the EPUB directly onto your desktop.
  • connect your Kobo to your computer using the USB cable and tap “Connect” on your eReader.
  • open your “Finder” application.
  • select “Kobo eReader” from the listed devices to view the contents of your Kobo.
  • navigate to where you have stored your EPUB file in “Finder”, probably in documents or downloads, and drag and drop it into the Kobo window. You can now disconnect your Kobo to read the eBook.

Turn on your Kobo and your EPUB will be located in “eBooks”, while a PDF will be located in “Documents”.
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  • select the eBook you want from our website and click the link to download it.
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Amazon Kindle 2nd Generation devices

EPUB files can’t be read on the Amazon Kindle™. However, like most eReaders, Kindle™ 2nd Generation devices are able to display PDFs. We recommend that you download the PDF version of this booklet if you would like to read it on a Kindle™.
To transfer a PDF to your Kindle™ via USB cable from your computer or Mac:

  • download the PDF directly onto your computer.
  • connect the USB cable to your computer’s USB port, and the micro USB end of the cable to your Kindle™. Note: the Kindle™ won’t be available as a reading device while it is connected to your computer until it has been disconnected.
  • open the Kindle™ drive and several folders will appear inside. The “Documents” folder is where you will need to copy or drag the PDF to.
  • safely eject your Kindle™ from your computer and unplug the USB cable. Your content will appear on the Home Screen.

Kindle also provides a Kindle Personal Documents Service that allows users to send documents as an attachment directly to your eReader. For more information on this service, visit
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You can also download and open eBooks on Android devices and PCs with appropriate apps or software installed. Suitable eReader apps for Android include Google Play Books, FBReader and Moon+ Reader. Suitable software for PCs include Calibre and Adobe Digital Editions.

This information was last reviewed in April 2019
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