5 Best Exercises for Women with an Overactive Bladder
Let’s face it: overactive bladder is embarrassing.
It sends you searching for a bathroom more often than you’d like. It interrupts you from doing what you want to do. And it’s just plain uncomfortable.
But what if doing some simple exercises could help overcome your overactive bladder symptoms?
Click through this slideshow to learn about exercises you can do to help manage overactive bladder.
A Women’s Issue
According to the National Association for Continence (NAFC), women are twice as likely as men to experience bladder control problems. This includes both overactive bladder and urinary incontinence.
Women in their prime, ages 20 to 45, are particularly likely to suffer from overactive bladder. Women in this age group have a prevalence of nearly 40 percent with the condition.
That’s considerably higher than the 17 percent of women overall who suffer from it.
Key in on Kegels
The most popular recommendation for an exercise to help overactive bladder is Kegel exercises. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) states that by doing Kegel exercises, you can strengthen bladder muscles.
To perform Kegel exercises, you simply need to squeeze the muscles on your pelvic floor. It’s the use of these muscles that keep your bladder from leaking urine. If you’re unsure how to do this, mimic what you would do to stop yourself from urinating.
The NIH recommends repeating Kegels 10 times. Hold each “squeeze” for three seconds.
Train Your Bladder
Another exercise to help overactive bladder is called “bladder training,” or “bladder drills.” This exercise helps train your bladder to hold more urine. When your bladder can hold more urine, then you can have greater control over when you go to the bathroom.
Bladder training involves first finding your “baseline” of how often you usually need to urinate. After this, you train your bladder to hold more by waiting as long as possible to urinate, even if it’s uncomfortable.
Over several weeks of practice, it should become easier to extend your time between bathroom breaks.
To help facilitate Kegels and bladder training, some other methods can also help exercise the muscles of your pelvic floor.
Electrical stimulation uses an electric device to help your pelvic floor muscles contract. This can strengthen them over time.
Research published in Urology states that electrical stimulation is “an effective and well-tolerated treatment for overactive bladder.”
A technique called biofeedback can help verify that when you are doing Kegels, you are doing them correctly.
Biofeedback involves a device that can indicate to a doctor whether you are squeezing the right muscles during pelvic floor exercises.
A study published in Urology found that biofeedback has been effective in treating urinary incontinence. Researchers note, however, that the patient’s motivation plays an important role in success of this exercise.
Vaginal cones provide a form of weight training for your pelvic floor muscles. The exercise involves placing cones of different weights inside the vagina.
Using the pelvic floor muscles, you then “lift” the weights. After you can hold lighter cones without discomfort, you can train your muscles to lift heavier cones. A study in the journal Clinics found the use of vaginal cones effective in women with stress urinary incontinence.
More Than Bladder Symptoms
It’s not easy to add overactive bladder exercises to your busy day. But there’s more than one good reason to do so.
First, exercises like Kegels can help women manage their overactive bladder by reducing symptoms and discomfort.
Second, women with overactive bladder have a greater risk of suffering from additional health problems compared with women who don’t have the condition, according to NAFC. These include weight and sleep problems, high blood pressure, arthritis, and low self-esteem.
By practicing regular exercises targeted at strengthening bladder control, you may also help prevent yourself from developing other disorders.
- National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse (NKUDIC). (n.d.). What I need to know about Bladder Control for Women. Retrieved December 14, 2013, from http://kidney.niddk.nih.gov/kudiseases/pubs/bcw_ez/insertC.aspx
- Overactive Bladder: MedlinePlus. (n.d.). U.S National Library of Medicine. Retrieved December 14, 2013, from http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/overactivebladder.html
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- Urge Incontinence and OAB. (n.d.). Home. Retrieved December 14, 2013, from http://www.nafc.org/media/statistics/urge-incontinence-and-oab/
- Result Filters. (n.d.). National Center for Biotechnology Information. Retrieved December 14, 2013, from http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10767446
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