Easy Ways to Overcome Incontinence

By , SparkPeople Blogger
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

-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

-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.

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.

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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HEDSTS58 11/25/2020
Great information. Thanks Report
interesting article and comments... lots of information Report
It's an embarrassing problem. Report
Useful. Report
good info Report
Interesting Report
Thanks for the article Report
Thank you for a very informative article. It's good to know there is help. Report
I fit into the 1st catagory......Stress....it has been happening ever since my perimenopause started (going on 2 yrs now) I definitely need to strengthen my pelvis....it doesn't help that I've had two c-sections....1995 & 2006.....all is not lost though! Report
I am 56 and have had this issue for about the last 25 to 30 years. Now I wear the thickest Poise pads for when I go walking but the thin Liners for when I am at home. I did lose some weight though. I was 189 lbs to start and lost 40 lbs, so that helped a little. But, it sucks that I can't run to burn calories because the run would put pressure on my bladder and bam! I would leak like a sieve! lol
I wish the article would also mention making sure to drink your water and to stay away from too much caffeine. Report
I had the sling done when I had a hysterectomy. It was wonderful until I gained weight. It's better now that I'm losing, and kegels are part of my daily routine. They do make a difference for me. Report
Took a class taught by a Women's Health PT and have not had issues since. The exercises are extremely effective. Thanks for the article. Report
Interest g! Report
AHAPPYLIFE, thanks for the tip about magnesium. Report
I had the sling surgery 7 years ago, and it really helped with my stress incontinence. I could finally live without pads. In the last year or so I have had some minor leakage return, although some of that is due to urge problems. I just use a small liner whenever I leave the house. Report
Men suffer from incontinence as well, how about a follow-up article? Report
Thanks for the article, I'm 48 years old and when I got go, I got go.... I don't care if your 89 and have a walker, I'll run you over to the bathroom. Report
I asked my chiropractor about this issue . And if you have fallen fairly hard he can put your pelvic area just slightly off. With the minor adjustment my accidents happened a lot less.

I also do think having extra weight around the middle causes more stress of the area. Report
Check with your gynecologist about pelvic floor rehabilitation. I had this for 8 weeks earlier this year, completely covered by my medical insurance. I no longer have issues with leaking, and I was using the biggest Poise pads available prior to beginning rehab. My medical insurance will cover this training every year in case I ever begin to have problems again. I know medicare covers it for seniors. The majority of patients seen by my rehab technician were seniors. It's also important to do any homework assignments/exercises that the tech gives you during training. If you don't do them, you won't see improvement. The rehab isn't painful and takes about 45 minutes per session. Report
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.

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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
You might try increasing your magnesium intake too. It really works well in most cases. Report
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. Report
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! Report
i had the sling surgery 3 years ago; but it only worked for the stress urgency!
anybody else has same problem? Report
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.
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. Report
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. Report
Our family calls it the pee pee dance! Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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. Report
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! Report
I just gave birth, and I have been having problems since
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. Report
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. Report
Thanks for that "urge-nt" message. Report
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! Report