Stress urinary incontinence (SUI) – the involuntary loss of urine – is a common and discomforting issue. In fact, research shows that around 1 in 3 women will experience stress urinary incontinence at some point in their life. In most cases, patients leak urine while coughing, sneezing, running, or laughing. However, the loss of bladder control can create sudden and strong urges that can stop you from getting to a toilet in time.
Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises, can help patients with stress urinary incontinence strengthen their pelvic floor muscles and improve their pelvic health. Patients can take comfort in the fact that pelvic floor muscles training (PMFT) is a proven and effective treatment of stress urinary incontinence. In fact, research proves that pelvic floor muscle training can not only alleviate SUI but also significantly improve the quality of life.
One thing you need to remember is that stress urinary incontinence is a common problem that you share with many women and that is okay to talk about it. Don’t shy away from the doctor. The sooner you get an evaluation from a professional, the sooner you’ll start to feel better. Don’t forget that medical professionals are aware that this is a sensitive issue for you. Stay patient and practice the exercises regularly. Your training sessions should not be shorter than six weeks.
Exercise 1: Kegels
Both men and women can improve their pelvic health by performing Kegel exercises. This can help them avoid problems with urine leakage and bowel control.
You can practice Kegel exercises at any time while you’re sitting or lying down. Most patients experience improved urinary continence after three to six weeks of practicing. It’s vital that you stay consistent and patient.
To perform a Kegel exercise, follow these steps:
- Make sure your bladder is empty.
- Find a comfortable position and visualize the pelvic floor muscles. Kegels can be practiced while sitting, laying down, or crouching on all fours.
- If you have a problem identifying your pelvic floor muscles, you can try to stop urination in midstream. If you managed to squeeze the muscles and hold urine, you did a Kegel.
- Focus and tighten your pelvic floor muscles.
- Try to hold tight for 3-5 seconds.
- Release the muscles for 3-5 seconds.
- Repeat ten times.
It’s recommended that patients practice a set of 10 Kegels three times a day. Keep in mind to not make a habit of squeezing your pelvic floor muscles during urination. Doing Kegel exercises while urinating can cause urinary tract infections.
Exercise 2: Squeeze and Release
Another exercise you can try is the “squeeze and release” movement. This exercise can also help you avoid involuntary leakage of urine.
To perform the “squeeze and release” technique, follow these steps:
- Find a comfortable position.
- Visualize your pelvic floor muscles and focus.
- Squeeze quickly and release. Don’t hold a contraction.
- Relax for 3 seconds.
- Repeat the exercises 10 times or more.
It’s recommended that patients practice this exercise twice a day.
Exercise 3: Bridge
Bridge is a popular exercise that can help you with sculpting your glutes, but it can also strengthen your pelvic floor muscles.
To perform a bridge, follow these steps:
- Lie on your back and find a comfortable position.
- Next, bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor.
- Keep your arms to your sides and tighten your abdominal muscles and glutes.
- Lift your body several inches of the ground.
- Keep in mind to squeeze your core as you lift your hips off the floor.
- Stay in this position for 3-8 seconds.
- Return to your starting position and relax.
- Repeat this exercise ten times twice a day.
Once your pelvic floor muscles get stronger, you’ll be able to make more repetitions. The most challenging part about pelvic floor exercises is remembering to do the exercises. One thing you can do is to set a rule that you’ll practice every morning and every evening before bed. To help yourself make this a habit, you can set reminders on your phone.
What Is the Main Cause of Stress Urinary Incontinence?
The most common causes of stress urinary incontinence are pregnancy and childbirth. The pelvic floor muscles and the sphincter weaken during these periods. Chronic coughing and aging can also cause SUI.
Does Stress Incontinence Go Away?
Stress incontinence can be treated and controlled. It all depends on what caused the dysfunction in the first place. If stress incontinence is caused by a vaginal infection or a medical problem the problem can go away with the help of exercise. Stress incontinence caused by childbirth and pregnancy can also be alleviated by PMFT. However, stress incontinence can be permanent, especially among older women.
If you experience a loss of bladder control, you may feel embarrassed and lonely. Our team sympathizes and understands the sensitivity of these problems. If you experience stress incontinence, don’t hesitate to contact us.