incontinenceWalk into any fitness center or physical therapy practice, and you probably won’t see anyone doing pelvic floor exercises to help manage urinary incontinence. But that doesn’t mean it’s not happening. First, you can’t tell that someone is doing pelvic floor exercises; the exerciser seems to be at rest. Second, and more important, pelvic floor exercises are a very effective way to help relieve incontinence, one of this country’s most widespread health problems.

Urinary incontinence affects more than 25 million American women. The two major varieties are stress incontinence and urge incontinence; some women have both.

In stress incontinence, urine leaks when there’s increased pressure on the bladder—as when you sneeze, cough or laugh. The underlying cause is pelvic muscle weakness, which can arise from underuse, poor muscle tone, injury, vaginal/rectal surgery, or pregnancy and childbirth. Pelvic floor exercises, called Kegel exercises after Dr. Arnold Kegel, a gynecologist who popularized their use for this purpose decades ago, strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, making the bladder less susceptible to leaks. These exercises are an important part of initial treatment—sometimes, in fact, they are the only treatment necessary.

The symptoms of urge incontinence, sometimes called overactive bladder, include leakage and feeling the need to urinate frequently both day and night. Unlike stress incontinence, urge incontinence involves erratic muscle contractions of the bladder wall, caused by age, infection or a chronic disease. Although it involves more dysfunction than does stress incontinence, urge incontinence also benefits from Kegels.

The key to effective Kegels? Doing them correctly! In our office, in complete privacy, we’ll help you find the right muscles to contract and release, and instruct you about timing (starting with just a few seconds each). Yes, learning can be awkward, but it’s worth the effort—as is bladder training, in which you urinate on a schedule, working up to progressively longer periods without going.

Kegels have helped millions of women like you. Don’t continue suffering from urinary incontinence when a simple exercise can prevent it from happening. Whether you suffer from stress incontinence, urinary incontinence or both, we can help.

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