These tips and exercises strengthen the pelvic floor

Published on February 13, 2024

Childbirth and the menopause are by no means the only causes of weak pelvic floor muscles in women. It can result in uterine prolapse and incontinence. The best prevention: strengthen the pelvic floor.

The pelvic floor sits like a taut cloth between the pelvic bones and the pubic bone and ischial tuberosities in the buttocks and holds the uterus, bladder and other abdominal organs in place.

Pregnancy and childbirth, severe obesity or years of heavy physical labor can weaken the muscles and connective tissue of the pelvic floor. The menopause and the associated drop in oestrogen levels, as well as smoking, chronic coughing or simply a genetic predisposition put additional strain on the pelvic floor. The causes already suggest it: A weak pelvic floor is a particular issue for women. But in rare cases, men can also be affected.

“In women, a weakened pelvic floor can lead to prolapse of the uterus, bladder or part of the bowel,” explains Cornelia Betschart, Deputy Director of the Department of Gynecology and Co-Head of the Continence and Pelvic Floor Center at the University Hospital Zurich. The most common consequences are incontinence or problems with urination, because the bladder bends downwards and some of the urine remains in the bladder. “Especially if urine remains in the bladder, this favors the development of bladder infections,” Betschart points out.

“Around 50 percent of all women are affected by uterine prolapse or bladder prolapse, although many only develop it at an older age,” says Betschart. Unfortunately, this topic is still often taboo. “Many women simply take it for granted or get used to the circumstances.”

Pelvic floor weakness - recognize and act

Problems of the pelvic floor are common. In some cases, they strongly influence the quality of life of those affected. Find out more about the structure of the pelvic floor and the symptoms of weakness.

More information

Knowing the pelvic floor and exercising it in a targeted manner is the best preventive measure. “With targeted strengthening of the pelvic floor, incontinence in particular can be prevented in many cases. After all, uterine prolapse can be reduced by one degree of severity, and there are four degrees,” says Betschart.

5 tips for a pelvic floor-friendly everyday life

  • Avoid heavy lifting at work and in everyday life. If this is not possible, try to adjust the load, for example by carrying it close to your body or dividing it up, carrying it for less time or less often.
  • Turn your head and upper body to the side to cough, sneeze or blow your nose. This results in less pressure on the pelvic organs or the pelvic floor.
  • If you enjoy sports, choose sports that involve activation of the pelvic floor, for example yoga, Pilates or fitness.
  • It is helpful if you know how to feel, activate and relax your pelvic floor. After giving birth, it is a good idea to do postnatal training with integration of the pelvic floor. There are courses for this. It is best to ask your midwife or gynecologist.
  • If you have symptoms such as incontinence, a feeling of prolapse or pain in the genital area, you can talk to your family doctor or gynecologist about this. If necessary, there is the possibility of physiotherapeutic pelvic floor rehabilitation. You will work out an exercise program together with a specialist pelvic floor physiotherapist.

2 exercises for a strong pelvic floor

The following two exercises can be integrated into everyday life practically anywhere and at any time.

A strengthening exercise:

Sit in a chair and relax. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. As you inhale, consciously relax your pelvic floor; as you exhale, close your urethra and anus. Hold the tension for about five to eight seconds during the entire exhalation. Repeat the exercise ten times, then take a one-minute break. Do three sets of ten repetitions two to three times a day.

An exercise to improve coordination:

Imagine that your pelvic floor is an elevator. As you inhale, the doors close and the elevator ascends several floors, while you continue to tense the pelvic floor and keep breathing. At the top, it takes a short time for the doors to open and you can relax completely, breathe in and out. Repeat the exercise ten times, then take a one-minute break. Do three sets of ten repetitions two to three times a day.

Urogynecological consultation hour

If your pelvic floor problems persist despite exercises or if you would like further clarification, please contact us to arrange an appointment:

Tel. +41 44 255 53 26
To the online registration


Cornelia Betschart Meier, Prof. Dr. med.

Senior Attending Physician, Department of Gynecology

Tel. +41 44 255 53 26
Specialties: Further training specialist in urogynecology, consultation hours and operations, Laparoscopic gynecology, Vulva consultation