Bladder control problems are difficult for anyone to experience and can be very hard to talk about. While you may feel like the only one, the reality is that many people experience some type of bladder control problem.
According to a study in the Journal of Urology, about 51 percent of women and 14 percent of men experience urinary incontinence, defined as loss of bladder control or urinary leakage.
Leaking urine is one type of bladder control problem, but it’s not the only one. Equally difficult — and in some cases, more significant to overall health — is incomplete bladder emptying. This issue can lead to urinary frequency, nighttime awakenings, incontinence, and increased risk of urinary tract infections.
About 80 percent of people living with multiple sclerosis experience bladder incontinence and difficulty with bladder emptying at some point.
While it may be difficult to discuss this medical condition, it’s necessary to bring attention to this problem to manage it. Thankfully, there is help available.
One very specialized area of care that can help is pelvic floor physical therapy. This type of physical therapy focuses on helping patients achieve better bladder function through education and retraining the pelvic floor muscles.
The pelvic floor is a hammock-shaped group of muscles that make up the floor of the pelvis. These muscles have many important functions for the bladder, including:
Fortunately, there are some exercises prescribed by pelvic health physical therapists that can help improve bladder control by building strength in the pelvic floor.
These six exercises will stimulate your pelvic floor muscles to build strength and control. They’re intended to go from easier to more difficult, so you may want to start with the first and slowly add on as you master each exercise.
You can do this exercise as often as feels good, but aim for three to five times per day.
This exercise helps to wake up the deep core muscles, including the pelvic floor. It can also help to calm your nervous system, and this may help with overactive bladder symptoms.
Start with holding for a count of 3 seconds, then release for a count of 4 to 10. How many can you do and still feel the upward pull and the downward release: 10, 15, 20? Start there and do twice a day. You can work up to about 25 at a time.
Kegels are the cornerstone of all pelvic floor physical therapy exercises. But it can be hard to know if you’re doing them right since you can’t see any movement occurring. If you have a hard time feeling this muscular contraction, then proceed to the next exercise and come back to this exercise after you’ve practiced the others for a few weeks.
As with any exercise program, you’ll want to give these exercises some time to work. None of these exercises should cause any pain, but you may get sore if you push too fast.
Slow and steady wins the race!
Article originally appeared on August 7, 2020 on Bezzy’s sister site, Healthline. Last medically reviewed on July 20, 2020.
About the author