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Apr 20

Hold On Tight! Fighting Urinary Incontinence

Have you seen the commercials on television talking about urinary incontinence (urine leakage)? Perhaps you or someone you know experiences urinary incontinence, possibly when exercising, laughing, sneezing, or coughing?

Over the years, women have shared their frustration and embarrassment because of their urinary incontinence issue. Though there are various traditional medical treatments (e.g., medication and surgery), there are other types of therapy that are being recognized by reputable healthcare organizations and entities.

For example, Harvard Medical School published information that Kegel exercises are among one of the new guidelines to help women strengthen specific muscles to help improve urinary incontinence. What are Kegel exercises…well – The National Institutes of Health (NIH) defines Kegel exercises “is like pretending you have to urinate and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow. It’s important to find the right muscles to tighten. The next time you have to urinate, start to go and then stop. Feel the muscles in your vagina, bladder, or anus get tight and move up. These are the pelvic floor muscles. If you feel them tighten, you’ve done the exercise right.”

Recommendations to perform effective Kegel exercises:

  • Each time you tighten your muscles – count to 6, 7, or 8 – then relax your muscles while counting to 10
  • Repeat for 10 repetitions
  • Perform these exercises 3 times a day
  • Improvement in urinary incontinence may be within 6 weeks to 3 months
  • For more information visit: Pelvic floor muscles training exercises

As a Preventative and Disease Management Practitioner, I’ve noticed that even if women are aware of Kegel exercises, they usually don’t perform these exercises. It is not a popular exercise – I usually hear…”You know, I really don’t think about doing it.” So over the years, the following approach has assisted women in remembering to do their Kegel exercises.

Though the NIH recommends to perform Kegel exercises three times a day with 10 repetitions per session, this may be difficult to achieve. Therefore, I suggest that women choose at least two specific times a day – with a count of 3, 4, or 5 – and start with 5 repetitions, then overtime include additional counts and repetitions. You may consider scheduling your Kegel exercises at 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. – or if you can perform these exercises three times a day it may be 10 a.m., 4 p.m. and 10 p.m. – most important…be flexible, but be consistent. As a bicep curl strengthens our biceps, Kegel exercises can strengthen our pelvic muscles to help improve urinary incontinence.

Health Tip: You may want to place a post-it note message on your computer or place an alert on your mobile phone to help you remember to schedule and do your KEs.

Note: Though urinary incontinence is thought of as a women’s issue, men can experience it as well and they can also benefit from doing Kegel exercises. Please be aware – regardless of any health issue, we should always talk to our doctor about any symptoms that we experience.

Author: Therese Pasqualoni, PhD

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