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Understanding Incontinence and Conservative Treatments for Active Women

February 15, 20233 min read

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Understanding Incontinence, Pelvic Pain, and Conservative Treatments for Active Women

Author: Dr Michael J Sardo DPT DNIII

Introduction:

Incontinence is a common condition that affects millions of women, causing them to experience involuntary loss of urine. This can be an embarrassing and inconvenient condition, particularly for active women who are always on the go. 

Fortunately, there are several conservative treatments that can help reduce symptoms and improve bladder control.

Pelvic pain

Core Exercises: A Promising Solution

Kegal exercises, also known as pelvic floor muscle exercises, are a simple and effective solution for many women with incontinence. The idea behind Kegels is to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and reduce symptoms of incontinence. 

By contracting and relaxing these muscles, women can train their pelvic floor to hold urine more effectively, reducing the frequency and severity of incontinence episodes.

Recent research supports the effectiveness of Kegel exercises for treating incontinence. 

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in the Cochrane Library in 2018 found that pelvic floor muscle training was effective for reducing symptoms of stress and urge incontinence in women.

 Additionally, a randomized controlled trial published in the International Urogynecology Journal in 2019 found that a 12-week program of pelvic floor muscle training was effective in improving bladder control and reducing incontinence symptoms in women with stress urinary incontinence.

Properly training the core and included Kegals along with Transverse Abdominus training is shown to resolve symptoms of incontinence drastically (90%) when compared to other treatments alone.

Other Conservative Treatments

Aside from Kegel exercises, there are several other conservative treatments that can help reduce symptoms of incontinence:

  • Bladder retraining: This involves gradually increasing the time between bathroom visits to help train the bladder to hold more urine and reduce urgency.

  • Dietary changes: Avoiding bladder irritants such as caffeine, alcohol, and spicy foods can help reduce incontinence symptoms.

  • Weight management: Maintaining a healthy weight can reduce pressure on the bladder and reduce incontinence.

  • Fluid management: Drinking enough water to maintain hydration while avoiding over-consumption can help regulate the bladder and reduce incontinence.

  • Dry Needling: This may be a good option as it release tight muscles that may be leading to pelvic pain and other pelvic dysfunctions.

Vaginal Dilators for Pelvic Pain

Vaginal dilators are cylindrical-shaped devices that come in different sizes, and are used to gradually stretch the vaginal canal to help relieve pelvic pain and discomfort. They are often used as part of physical therapy for conditions such as vulvodynia, vaginismus, and after surgical procedures that affect the vaginal area.

The idea behind using vaginal dilators is to gently and gradually increase the size of the dilator over time to help the muscles and tissues of the vaginal area become more relaxed and comfortable with penetration. This can help alleviate pain and discomfort during sexual activity or gynecological exams.

It's important to note that vaginal dilator therapy should only be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as incorrect use can cause further discomfort or injury. The process of using vaginal dilators is typically slow and gradual, and may take several weeks or months to see results.

In conclusion, incontinence can be a challenging condition, but there are several effective conservative treatments that can help reduce symptoms and improve bladder control. Whether you choose Kegel exercises, bladder retraining, dietary changes, weight management, or vaginal dilators, it's important to work with a healthcare provider to determine the best course of treatment for your specific needs and conditions.

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