Urinary incontinence is troublesome and embarrassing. An estimated 33 million Americans suffer from urinary incontinence, according to the American Urology Association. That’s a staggering number.
While both genders suffer from incontinence, women are more likely to be affected by this condition than men. Age, childbirth, pregnancy, and menopause are linked to urinary incontinence in women.
Fortunately, you can treat urinary incontinence with exercise. But which exercises help strengthen pelvic muscles? We’ll discuss that in this guide.
Urinary Incontinence: How Can it Be Treated?
There are several ways to treat an overactive bladder– medications, surgical procedures, and behavioral techniques. Usually, the severity of symptoms and the type of incontinence determine the treatment that will be beneficial.
Medicines like anticholinergics, mirabegron (myrbetriq), topical estrogen, and alpha-blockers can help reduce urge incontinence. However, it’s important to note that medicines don’t work for everyone, especially if your symptoms are severe. In that case, your general physician might advise you on surgical procedures.
The sling procedure is the most common surgery to treat incontinence. In this surgery, a strip of body tissue or a mesh (synthetic material) is used to form a pelvic sling beneath the bladder neck, and the urethra. It’s this sling that keeps the urethra closed, predominantly while sneezing or coughing.
Although the surgery is considered safe, complications can arise. TruLaw reports that there is an ongoing transvaginal mesh lawsuit against Ethicon, Boston Scientific, American Medical Systems, C.R. Bard, and Coloplast.
Thousands of people who underwent mesh surgery experienced serious complications. Mesh pain, bleeding, nerve damage, neuro-muscular problems, and chronic pelvic pain are some common injuries associated with transvaginal mesh.
The number of women affected due to transvaginal mesh is staggering. Over 100,000 vaginal mesh lawsuits have been filed against several medical device manufacturers. Multiple transvaginal mesh lawsuit plaintiffs have received favorable settlements from manufacturers.
Anyhow, the question of what can be used instead of mesh for prolapse looms large in the minds of those suffering from incontinence. Fortunately, there are several options. Pelvic floor physical therapy, gyne care prolift, vaginal pessary, and fascia lata graft are alternatives to transvaginal mesh.
Exercises for an Overactive Bladder
In many cases, exercises can help improve bladder control. Here, we’ve mentioned a few exercises that you can try at home:
1. Kegel Exercises
Also known as pelvic floor muscle training, kegel exercises can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles enough to stop involuntary leaks during daily activities or exercises. It’s a common misconception that kegel exercises are for women. Men with an overactive bladder can also try kegel exercises, as they help improve bladder control.
To do the kegel exercise:
Find your pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowel
Lay on the floor and tighten those muscles as much as possible
Hold the muscles for three to five seconds
Relax for a few seconds and repeat
Avoid holding your breath when holding your muscles. Instead, breathe freely. Aim to do at least three sets of kegel exercises daily.
2. The Bridge
This exercise predominantly targets your glutes, but the bridge also helps strengthen the pelvic floor. Besides the glutes, this exercise targets other muscles that enfold the lower core. The bridge exercise is excellent for people seeking challenging exercises to improve bladder control.
To do the bridge exercise:
Lay flat on the floor on a soft, comfortable spot such as a yoga mat while keeping your knees bent, feet flat, and arms on the sides
Contract your pelvic floor muscles as well as your buttocks
Raise your buttocks a few inches above the ground
Hold in this position for about three to ten seconds
Relax your pelvic floor muscles and buttocks, and move your body down to the ground
Rest for a couple of minutes and repeat this exercise at least ten times
Squats strengthen the core, boost calorie burn, and improve posture. But did you know that they also help improve bladder control? That is why they are worth a shot if you want to save yourself from the embarrassment of leaks.
Note that squats are a bit more intensive exercise than kegels and the bridge. However, they strengthen the lower body muscles, including the pelvic floor and buttocks.
Stand in an upright posture with feet a little wider than hip-width
Move your hips back and bend your knees, but keep your back straight
Lean forward slightly while making sure your knees are aligned with your toes
Keep your pelvic floor and buttocks tight, and then return to the standing position
Repeat this exercise at least ten times
Kegels, squats, and bridge exercises help reduce incontinence and improve bladder control. Therefore, you must do them daily to stop involuntary leaks. While medicines work well along with exercises, making certain lifestyle changes will help tame an overactive bladder.
Make sure to eat healthy, drink enough fluids throughout the day, and take medicines on time. In case you still experience episodes of incontinence, get in touch with your general physician.