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Easy Ways to Overcome Incontinence

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
8/15/2012 10:00 AM   :  23 comments   :  12,999 Views

Let's face it: Nobody wants to talk about incontinence. However, many women have some degree of it. There is no reason why anyone should have to feel embarrassed about or continue to suffer from this problem, but it continues to be a common chronic health condition that diminishes quality of life.

Many women experience urinary incontinence for the first time during or after pregnancy. The physical changes of pregnancy, along with the stresses put on the pelvic floor, can cause urine leakage with exertion, coughing or sneezing. For many women, this problem resolves within several months postpartum. However, without treatment, some women may continue to have a chronic incontinence issues for life.

There are two main types of urinary incontinence, listed below. Some women develop a mix of the two.

 

Stress Urinary Incontinence

Causes:
-A weak pelvic floor.
-Urethral sphincter dysfunction.

Women who have stress incontinence experience urine leakage when pressure is put on the bladder during laughing, coughing, sneezing, or with exercise.

 

Urge Urinary Incontinence

Causes:
-Pregnancy or pelvic surgery such as C-section.
-Injury to pelvic area.
-Diseases such as diabetes, stroke, MS or other neurological conditions.

This condition is more commonly called ''overactive bladder.'' Urge incontinence occurs when there is nerve dysfunction that causes bladder contractions outside of normal urination. Women with urge incontinence find that they have episodes where they experience an extremely strong and immediate need to urinate. The bladder contractions can make it difficult to make it to a bathroom.

Treatment
The first line of treatment is to strengthen the pelvic floor to help provide greater support and control. The pelvic floor muscles play an important role throughout a woman's life in maintaining proper alignment of the spine and support and function of the pelvic organs. The muscles of the pelvic floor span from the pubic bone to tailbone, forming a figure eight around the urethra, vagina and anus. Weak pelvic muscles result in sagging and loss of support of the pelvic organs, and can lead to incontinence problems if not corrected.

Pelvic floor exercises (sometimes called "Kegel" exercises) are a great way to strengthen these muscles and are simple to perform, but require that you first identify how to correctly contract the pelvic floor muscles. One method for locating the pelvic floor muscles is to note the area that contracts when you stop urinating. The muscles responsible for stopping urine flow are the pelvic floor muscles. You can use the urine stop-and-start test when initially learning how to locate and isolate the muscle group.  

Pelvic Floor Exercises
Two or three times a day, do 5-10 repetitions of each exercise listed below. Build up to two times a day of 25-50 repetitions of each exercise. If your pelvic floor muscles fatigue quickly, do fewer repetitions each time, but increase the frequency throughout the day.

Quick Flicks:
Contract your pelvic floor muscles quickly and release.

Elevator:
Slowly contract your pelvic floor muscles (think of lifting up like an elevator moving up floors), progressively increasing your contraction, and then slowly releasing back down. You can increase the effectiveness of this exercise by holding for five seconds at the top of the contraction.
 
Your abdomen, buttocks, and thighs should not be tensed when doing these exercises.  Lie, sit, or stand with your legs slightly apart so you can isolate the correct area. No one will be able to tell that you are doing these exercises, so you can do them anywhere. It's helpful to give yourself a ''cue'' to do your exercises; for example, try to remind yourself to do them while brushing your teeth or driving to work. You should contract your pelvic floor muscles each time you lift something, laugh, sneeze, or cough to provide support and prevent further weakening.

Increasing pelvic floor strength is helpful for reducing stress incontinence, and the exercises can be part of the treatment for those with ''overactive bladder'' or urge incontinence issues.

In addition, those with urge incontinence can improve the condition with the following bladder-retraining program:

1. When you feel a strong bladder urge, stop and stand (or preferably sit) very still.
2. Squeeze your pelvic floor muscles 5-6 times to prevent leaking.
3. Relax by taking a deep breath and exhaling several times until the urge reduces.
4. Slowly walk to the bathroom. If the urge suddenly becomes strong again, go back through the steps to regain control and retrain your bladder response.

Additional treatments can range from biofeedback and behavior interventions to medications and surgery. The key for effectively treating an incontinence problem is proper diagnosis and follow-up with a healthcare provider who is trained to treat this condition.  

A physical therapist that specializes in women's health can be a great resource for treating incontinence issues.  A PT can help you prevent the need for surgery or medications through techniques and exercises that help strengthen the pelvic floor and retrain your bladder. You can find a physical therapist in your area by visiting the APTA website and entering your zip code, distance for your search. You can refine your search by clicking on ''women's health.''

Remember, if you suffer from incontinence, you are not alone! It is an easily solvable and common problem that you don't need to feel ashamed of.

For additional information on incontinence, click here.

For a video demonstration on how to do pelvic floor exercises, click here.


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Comments

  • KETARAN
    23
    I think the article was too simplistic. There is nothing easy or quick to relieve incontinence. The majority of elderly women will have this problem at some point. No mention was made of the pessary. It is the oldest known medical device. Women still use it. No mention was made of the fact that insurance may not cover physical therapy for incontinence.

    - 7/14/2014   9:40:41 AM
  • 22
    Thank you for the article/video. I am a young woman, 35 yo. I noticed that it started during my first pregnancy 14 years ago. It never really got better. I then had another child 4 years ago, still same problems. I cannot "hold it". When I have to go, I have to go. God forbid if I sneeze or cough. When I am sick, I am miserable and have to go to the extreme with wearing heavy duty urine pads. How embarrassing for me. I did notice that I lost 15 lbs and it helped a little. I put back on 10 of that and it has returned full force. I am 100 lbs over weight, hoping with continued weight loss, I have a "dry" normal life. Nice to know I am not the only one out there with this embarrassing problem. - 10/10/2013   2:48:07 PM
  • COMPFC
    21
    CALIDREAMER76-Thanks for the post. If you go to the end of the video on that link, once it's finished four other videos will appear on the screen. In the upper right hand corner click on the video for a very clear female based exercise demonstration. The volume is better on that video as well. - 8/22/2012   11:14:00 AM
  • 20
    Thanks for posting, I mentioned to the doctor just last week that it seems that my body "knows" as soon as I get into the house - I HAVE to run to the bathroom immediately. I have increased the volume of water I drink, but that was four years ago, it's been getting bad over the past year. =(

    I tried to watch the video - I couldn't hear half of it, and stopped listening when discussion in the beginning was about ED - I looked at the source and saw that this came from a men's sight and didn't want to waste time watching something that may be for women, but was definitely for men. - 8/21/2012   4:40:01 AM
  • 19
    You might try increasing your magnesium intake too. It really works well in most cases. - 8/16/2012   11:42:27 PM
  • 18
    I haven't had any help from Kegel. Thank you for the information on the others. Maybe they will help. I only ever see anything on urinary incontinence, but if you have IBS or have had radiation therapy you also end up with bowel incontinence, which is a lot worse. I wish one could find out about easy ways to cure that. - 8/16/2012   1:11:31 PM
  • 17
    I have done lots and lots of Kegels and they haven't helped a bit.

    I know two people who have had the sling surgery. The first wasn't helped at all, and the second has had horrible additional surgeries because of the surgeon's mistakes! I don't trust it! - 8/16/2012   12:29:43 PM
  • TEMPKIKI
    16
    i had the sling surgery 3 years ago; but it only worked for the stress urgency!
    anybody else has same problem? - 8/16/2012   10:58:34 AM
  • PATRICIARIC
    15
    I had surgery for this is January this year. have put up with this for 28 years getting worse each year. thank goodness surgery is so quick and better nowadays. its great and would recommend to anyone if they have tried all else.
    - 8/16/2012   9:35:39 AM
  • TURNINGTABLES21
    14
    Losing weight has helped me. I am hoping the more I lose, the less often it will happen. Intend to remember to do the Kegel exercises. - 8/16/2012   9:20:33 AM
  • 13
    I had a TOT - Trans obturator taping six years ago, it was a miracle to me. I had suffered with stress incontinence since I went through 36 hours of labor with my son in 1971. It still bothers me that I missed being active with my children but I have had a lot of fun with my grandkids and no leaking. There is also a procedure called TVT, trans vaginal taping, that many people are happy with. Both of these procedures are outpatient surgeries. The doctor explained that if the TOT did not work I would still be a good candidate for the bigger surgery but I was glad I didn't need it. Just writing about it makes me tear up; I'm so fortunate to be able to be active again at 65. - 8/16/2012   8:45:56 AM
  • 12
    Our family calls it the pee pee dance! - 8/16/2012   8:36:56 AM
  • DAMIOTM
    11
    I've always had "small bladder", but have dealt with it, even after having twin pregnancy. My daughters, with neuro problems, have had the urgency issue since childhood, but no amount of Detrol totally controls the dribble and odor. I hate for them to have to spend the rest of their lives with this, wearing pads and "products". Kegels are good but aren't going to solve the neuro issues and the medical field doesn't really acknowledge or do anything about the connection between the brain, adhd, seizures, etc and urinary problems, even after all these years. - 8/16/2012   7:13:07 AM
  • 10
    Suffer for years and doctors never stepped up and gave me option until it was a huge prolapse problem. Butterfly sling is a miracle in my life. If it is beyond Kegel, keep on your doctor for options. I wasted 23 years of my life not doing activity to prevent problems - boo medical people that keep saying do kegels. - 8/16/2012   4:30:20 AM
  • 9
    I had a transoptinator taping, a surgery that was suppose to correct my incontinence problem. I used overnight kotex before surgery. 2 years later I am in disposable panties. I have always done kegels exercises. My s/o appreciates them. - 8/16/2012   4:10:11 AM
  • 8
    I had problems for years with stress incontinence. My kids are now 34 and 37 so it was lots of years of suffering. The last straw was on a trip to Egypt when I had three pair of panties and got a horrific cough towards the end of the trip. Not enough panty liners and certainly not enough panties! A lady on the trip made a comment that she was "like a camel" now that she had a "sling". I remember sidling up to her and telling her "Tell me about this "sling" you have!" That was the turning point for me. 6 weeks later I had the sling and have never looked back. I've had no problems with mine at all. A few hours in the hospital, mostly waiting for something to happen, and a few weeks of no lifting or straining and I was fine. One of my better decisions. - 8/15/2012   8:40:02 PM
  • 7
    never thought mine would get better post-partum, I remember one run where I was wringing handfuls of pee from my running skirt! I still have days where I dribble, but I think I did pre-baby but just chose to ignore it. Now, incontinence pads are my friend. I use the thin pantiliner type though, don't need the giant ones. I can live with that forever. - 8/15/2012   5:25:57 PM
  • 6
    In June 2012, I had the Ureatheral Loop surgery for this very problem. I had been dealing with leaking for over 6 years and wearing pads, scared I would have an over flow accident in a sneeze- was keeping me stressed.
    The surgery was simple, no lost time from work, 6weeks no pelvic action, no lifting over 10 pounds... I was released my 6th week to resume my normal daily life... Normal! No leaks, no pads, no worries!
    Before the surgery, my two visits was showing my blood pressure was a little high, not bad, but high enough for me to worry. After my surgery- two weeks check-up, my blood pressure was NORMAL! Again at my six week check-up my blood pressure was NORMAL!
    I believe having the surgery helped me to have a better life in several ways!
    I feel better than I have in years! - 8/15/2012   2:09:16 PM
  • 5
    I just gave birth, and I have been having problems since
    - 8/15/2012   12:44:38 PM
  • 4
    Subject not too talked about. Up until I started losing weight I was on medication. My doctor told me that I had a weak pelvic floor and to do kegel exercises. Today, no more medication and worrying about making it to the nearest restroom. - 8/15/2012   11:45:10 AM
  • 3
    i do the kaigal exercises, and wear a liner - it is much better and a lot easier than surgeries - which i think are too flippantly foisted upon women in general. the way hysterectomies were in the 50/60/70 and even 80/s. i have many friends who were just told to 'get all of it out' - which did not solve their problems and put them immediately into menopause in their mid thirties.
    anyway - the problems with the mesh placed into the pelvis - and so many other things - just take care of it with any of the great products now available. - 8/15/2012   11:14:11 AM
  • 2
    Thanks for that "urge-nt" message. - 8/15/2012   11:10:43 AM
  • 1
    Thank you so much! I suffer from pretty terrible leakage, and have no insurance. Anything I can do to improve matters is helpful! I was JUST talking to my workout buddy about this. I'm tired of wearing old lady pads! I'm only 33! - 8/15/2012   10:32:46 AM

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