Pelvic floor muscle exercises can help manage urinary incontinence in older women

October 1, 2009,

Researchers at Rush University Medical Center have found that a program of pelvic floor muscle exercises, combined with pelvic health education, can be an effective way to manage urinary incontinence in elderly women.

The study, involving 65 women between the ages of 67 and 95, is being presented this week at the annual meeting of the North American Menopause Society in San Diego.

Urinary incontinence, or loss of bladder control, is a frustrating, and often embarrassing, problem for more than 13 million Americans. It is twice as common in women as in men, and, according to some estimates, affects half of older women. In women, the muscles that help support the bladder may become weak due to multiple pregnancies and vaginal births.

"Urinary incontinence can take a very real emotional and social toll. Not knowing when and where you might have an accident can impact everything from household chores to dinner dates and bowling games," said physiatrist Dr. Sheila Dugan, co-director of the Program for Abdominal and Pelvic Health at Rush and lead author of the study.

"Many treatment options exist, but strengthening the pelvic floor muscles, as our study has shown, can be very effective even for older women, avoiding the need for drugs or more invasive procedures."

The women in the study's treatment group underwent a supervised chair-based exercise program for six weeks. The program focused on identifying, isolating and strengthening muscles that support the pelvic area: the transversus abdominus, the corset-like swath of muscles that wraps around the abdomen; the multifidus, which extends along the back of the trunk; and the pelvic floor muscles, which form a sling to hold up like the bladder. In addition to the exercises, the program incorporated an educational curriculum (four sessions) on basic bladder and pelvic health. The control group received one session of educational basics and no supervised training in pelvic exercises.

At the end of the program, 83 percent of the women in the treatment group reported that their symptoms had improved. On the whole for the control group, there were no statistically significant improvements.

The researchers found statistically significant improvements in the treatment group in a number of areas. Problems with frequency of urination, urine leakage related to feelings of urgency and urine leakage caused by physical activity, coughing or sneezing had all decreased. Bladder control problems were less bothersome and also had less of an impact on daily activities like household chores.

The women in the treatment groups also reported less urgency during night-time hours, better bladder management (especially when physically active or sneezing) and increased self-confidence. Eighty-two percent reported that they planned on continuing the exercise themselves after the intervention.

Source: Rush University Medical Center (news : web)

Related Stories

Recommended for you

Sleep better, lose weight?

January 17, 2018
(HealthDay)—Sleeplessness could cost you when it's time to stand on your bathroom scale, a new British study suggests.

Who uses phone apps to track sleep habits? Mostly the healthy and wealthy in US

January 16, 2018
The profile of most Americans who use popular mobile phone apps that track sleep habits is that they are relatively affluent, claim to eat well, and say they are in good health, even if some of them tend to smoke.

Improvements in mortality rates are slowed by rise in obesity in the United States

January 15, 2018
With countless medical advances and efforts to curb smoking, one might expect that life expectancy in the United States would improve. Yet according to recent studies, there's been a reduction in the rate of improvement in ...

Teens likely to crave junk food after watching TV ads

January 15, 2018
Teenagers who watch more than three hours of commercial TV a day are more likely to eat hundreds of extra junk food snacks, according to a report by Cancer Research UK.

Can muesli help against arthritis?

January 15, 2018
It is well known that healthy eating increases a general sense of wellbeing. Researchers at Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) have now discovered that a fibre-rich diet can have a positive influence ...

Your dishwasher is not as sterile as you think

January 13, 2018
(HealthDay)—Your dishwasher may get those plates spotless, but it is also probably teeming with bacteria and fungus, a new study suggests.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.