Incontinence is a common condition that weakens the muscles in your bladder and can result in unintended urine leakage or a frequent need to visit the restroom. People with incontinence suffer reduced quality of living, since sitting through a movie or participating in a volleyball game or other athletic workout can be impossible. Doctors often recommend self-care exercises designed to strengthen your bladder muscles as a method to control incontinence and restore normalcy to your life.
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Weakened Bladder Muscles
Weakened nerves and muscles in the bladder that allow you to control the release of urine often trigger incontinence. Although some men suffer the condition, incontinence is most common in adult women due to factors like pregnancy, menopause and the structure of the urinary tract. People who are obese also face a higher risk for incontinence, since excess weight results in pressure on your abdomen. Women with incontinence often suffer embarrassment, as urine leakage can occur at any time -- even during sexual intercourse. While no single treatment is effective for every person, most people with the condition find relief through self-care exercises and will not require surgery.
Gynecologists often recommend Kegel exercises to help strengthen the bladder. Begin a Kegel repetition by locating the muscles that allow you to control urination, which can be accomplished by attempting to reduce the flow of urine without using your buttock muscles, legs or stomach. You’ve likely identified the correct muscles when you successfully halt your urine stream. Slowly squeeze the muscles for about 10 seconds and avoid holding your breath. Relax for an additional 10 seconds and then try to repeat the exercise between 10 and 20 times based on your comfort level. Kegel repetitions are most effective when performed three times daily.
Most people begin to notice improvements after three to six weeks of Kegel activity, according to the National Kidney and Urologic Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Consider starting at a slower pace if you encounter difficulty by squeezing your bladder muscles for a shorter time period -- such as four seconds -- and shortening your sets to twice daily. Plan to increase time once your endurance improves. Your doctor can offer advice if you think you may be performing Kegel exercises incorrectly and can help determine if your condition requires additional care.
Bladder Training Exercise
People with weak bladder muscles often benefit from bladder training exercises. Try urinating at designated times, such as every two hours -- even if you don’t feel the need. Aim to gradually increase the time between your intervals until you eventually urinate once every three or four hours. An alternate method is to delay urination for at least five minutes each time you feel the urge. Doctors often suggest breathing slowly and deeply to distract yourself. Wait about five minutes after the urge passes and then urinate. Plan to increase the delay time to up to 10 minutes as your body allows. Some people notice positive results from bladder training activity after three weeks, although results may take as long as three months.