What Are The Pelvic Floor Muscles
The pelvic floor muscles are layers of muscle stretched like a hammock from the pubic bone at the front to the bottom of the backbone . In men there are two openings through the pelvic floor the anus and the urethra . In women there are three openings through the pelvic floor, the anus , the vagina and the urethra . The pelvic floor muscles support all these openings, but if they are weakened or not in good condition they cannot support the openings effectively. When a muscle is not exercised it will weaken through lack of use. The pelvic floor muscles are no exception.
Exercises To Help Prevent Bladder Incontinence
Kegel exercises are one type of workout you can do anywhere, anytime. When youâre doing Kegel exercises properly, they are invisible to others. The most important thing to understand is that Kegel exercises only involve the pelvic muscles, not the stomach or chest muscles. You should feel like youâre clenching up and in, not pushing down and out like a bowel movement.
Finding Your Kegel Muscles
The first step to properly exercising your pelvic muscles is to feel them in your body.
Step 1: While sitting down or standing up, feel the sensation of urinating.
Step 2: Imagine the sensation of stopping your urine stream before your bladder is empty.
Step 3: Notice which muscles tense when you imagine this sensation. These are your pelvic muscles. The way they tensed in this exercise is the beginning of most Kegel exercises.
Note: donât actually do this when urinating. Regularly stopping your urine before your bladder is empty can damage your bladder and even result in bladder infections. If this exercise isnât helpful, you can also imagine the sensation of avoiding passing gas or squeezing a tampon if you have a vagina.
Sitting Fast-Twitch Exercise
You have two important kinds of muscle tissue, known as fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscles. You have both in every part of your body, including your pelvic muscles. Fast-twitch muscles react quickly, and can help you avoid stress incontinence such as a urine leak while laughing.
Step 3: Release almost immediately.
Living With Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence does, unfortunately, become a long-term problem for some women. Here are some tips on living with it:
- Use incontinence pads, which are made for urine leakage, rather than sanitary pads.
- Take a change of underwear or set of clothes when you go out.
- Know where toilets are located so you can find them quickly .
- Cross your legs when sneezing or laughing.
- Modify your exercise routine to avoid high impact exercises such as jumping.
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Pelvic Floor Exercises To Help Strengthen The Bladder And Prevent Incontinence
It may not be something people feel comfortable talking about but bladder incontinence is an issue that impacts many people in the older community. It affects around 37 per cent of women in the general population and 13 per cent of men and one way many people can strengthen their bladder is through pelvic floor exercises.
When women become menopausal, there are several hormonal shifts which can affect the bladder, while the growth of the prostate can cause problems in men. Other people can develop bladder weakness through heavy lifting, a history of pregnancy or vaginal birth, pelvic surgeries, hysterectomies or operations on the prostate.
According to the Continence Foundation Australia, a healthy bladder is one that empties between four and six times a day, can hold between 400ml and 600ml of urine, wakes you up no more than twice a night if youre over 65, doesnt leak urine and empties completely when a person goes to the bathroom. If this doesnt sound like your bathroom habits, practicing pelvic floor exercises may assist.
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Women Can Learn Kegel Exercises Or Pelvic Exercises
Kegel exercises or pelvic floor exercises are one of the best ways to control urinary incontinence. These exercises tighten and strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. When these muscles are weak, you are not able to control the flow of urine. Anyone can perform these exercises if you are suffering from urinary incontinence. They can be done anywhere, and done daily, should produce results in about 3 to 6 weeks.
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Diet Light And No Sugar Added Products
Its not well known why artificial sweeteners are linked with bladder problems. If you notice your bladder irritation increases after eating foods with artificial sweeteners, its worth avoiding them to see if your symptoms improve.
Some foods that can have artificial sweeteners include light yogurts and other products, things labeled no sugar added, and diet products including diet sodas and other beverages.
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Add To Your Daily Routine
Do your pelvic exercises at least three times a day. Every day, try to do the exercises in three positions: lying down, sitting, and standing. Using all three positions makes the muscles strongest. Keep a daily journal or exercise log to record each time you do the exercises.
Heres a sample daily exercise schedule.
- Do a set of exercises in the morning, while making breakfast.
- Fit in another set in the afternoon, while sitting at your desk or driving.
- End with a third set in the evening, while lying in bed.
Be patient. Dont give up. Its just 5 minutes, three times a day. Like any exercise routine, it can take a little time to build up muscle strength and conditioning. You may not feel your bladder control improve until after 3 to 6 weeks.
Dont overdo it. Keep doing the exercises, but dont increase how many you do. Overdoing the exercises can lead to straining when you urinate or move your bowels.
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What Foods And Drinks To Avoid
While you may want to drink less liquid so you dont have to urinate as often, you should still make sure you stay hydrated. More concentrated urine, usually darker in color, can irritate your bladder and cause more frequent urination.
Other foods and drinks can contribute to OAB symptoms, including:
- tomato-based foods
You can test which drinks or foods irritate your bladder by eliminating them from your diet. Then reincorporate them one by one every two to three days at a time. Permanently eliminate the particular food or drink that worsens your symptoms.
Help With Urinary Incontinence
Urinary Incontinence is a challenge for more than a third of those 65 and over. Bladder control exercises can help you regain control of your bladder from urinary incontinence and help you prevent incontinence in the future.
Urinary incontinence in women can be caused by a variety of factors. In addition to the weakening of bladder muscles that comes with age, women go through pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause that can affect the urinary tract, bladder, and pelvic floor muscles.
Anatomy also plays a role. The female urethra is much shorter than the male urethra, which can make women more likely to develop UI if the urinary tract has been damaged. The two most common forms of UI are stress incontinence and urge incontinence.
Stress incontinence is characterized by leaking urine while jumping, coughing, sneezing, or doing any activity that puts stress on the bladder.
Urge incontinence is characterized by the frequent and strong urge to urinate, even if youve just emptied your bladder. This form of incontinence is very similar to overactive bladder , but it becomes incontinence when the intense urge causes your bladder muscles to release urine, even if youre nowhere near the bathroom.
Foods To Avoid If You Have Oab
Doctors have identified a number of foods and drinks that can worsen overactive bladders, including:
- Caffeinated beverages and foods
- Sugar or honey
- Artificial sweeteners
When these foods and drinks collect in the bladder, it can cause irritation resulting in bladder muscle spasms. Those spasms can create the sudden urge to urinate and increase your frequency of urination. Because each person will react differently to trigger foods coffee might bother one person, while dairy can be problematic for someone else doctors suggest keep a food journal so you can see which foods affect you the most.
But there are certain beverages that are known to cause repeat trips to the bathroom. Even a moderate amount of alcohol, coffee, tea, or soda will increase the amount of urine your bladder must manage. Research published in September 2016 in the journal Current Urology showed nearly one-half of people over the age of 60 who drink more than 300 mg coffee a day suffer from overactive bladder symptoms, which is significantly higher than peers who do not consume large amounts of caffeine.
Also, chemicals in cigarettes have been shown to irritate the bladder and increase the risk of bladder cancer. Smoking can cause coughing spasms that increase problems with stress incontinence. The American Cancer Society offers extensive resources on quitting, noting smokers are at least 3 times more likely to get bladder cancer compared with nonsmokers.
What Causes The Pelvic Floor To Weaken
Like other muscles they can be damaged, a long history of constipation can weaken the pelvic floor muscles. They can also become weakened by surgery in the pelvic area. In women, the most common cause of damage to the pelvic floor is the strain and stretching involved in childbirth large babies and the use of forceps can increase this damage. Muscle tearing or episiotomies can cause further damage. A long history of constipation can also weaken the pelvic floor muscles in both men and women.
In some men, the lower bowel can prolapse through the anal canal and bowel control can be affected. In women, weak pelvic floor muscles may lead to prolapse of one or more of the pelvic floor organs the bladder, womb or bowel. A prolapse is when these organs are not correctly supported and they start to push down against the vaginal walls. Symptoms of a prolapse can include a bulging or heavy dragging sensation in the vagina, pain or discomfort during intercourse.
Need To Fix That Leak
People with OAB sometimes have urinary incontinence. Urine leaks out involuntarily, especially when someone gets the urge to urinate. There are several types of urinary incontinence, with many cases happening when someone coughs, laughs, or sneezes. OAB and urinary incontinence often go hand in hand but can be mutually exclusive. However, doctors often link both cases to a weakened pelvic floor. These 4 exercises may help improve bladder control.
Bladder Retraining After Long Catheterization
May 30, 2013 by Ken Theriot
A couple of weeks ago my urologist told me I didnt need to wear the leg bag with my catheter anymore if I didnt want to. I wrote about this in my article I Havent Really Need This Leg Bag! At first I felt a bit like I wish Id known this 3 months ago! But as it turns out, I couldnt have gone bag-less any earlier because I was being prepped for my antegrade-retrograde urethrogram , during which time my bladder and urethra had to be resting for 3 months. This apparently makes for a much more accurate picture of the stricture length and location.
But now that they have done the urethrogram and pinpointed the details of the stricture , I can go bag-less every day. However, even after a couple of weeks I still have to go every hour.
So Ive been wondering if I should be holding it for longer, trying to push through the discomfort of the urge to pee for longer and longer, in order to retrain my bladder to hold onto the pee for the normal 4 hours. My hunch appears to have been right, according to the below article. Basically, you have to inform your bladder that YOU are the boss, not IT. As it turns out, thats not entirely true. Im bending to my bladders willeventually. But I was able to get up to 90 minutes a few times yesterday. So maybe its working.
Anyway, here is the article I refer to:
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Reduced Risk Of Faecal Incontinence
Weakened sphincter muscles are the most common cause of faecal incontinence, and Kegels is the answer to getting rid of any faecal incontinence as soon as possible.
The Kegel exercises have been scientifically proven to reduce the risk of faecal incontinence but also to treat this annoying problem that is can also contribute to anxiety and low self-confidence.
Do Pelvic Floor Exercises Make A Difference
It takes time, effort and practice to become good at pelvic floor exercises/Kegels. It is best do these exercises for at least three months to start with. You should start to see benefits after a few weeks. However, it often takes two to five months for most improvement to occur. After this time you may be cured of stress incontinence. If you are not sure that you are doing the correct exercises, ask a doctor, physiotherapist or continence advisor for advice.
If possible, continue exercising as a part of everyday life for the rest of your life. Once incontinence has gone, you may only need to do one or two bouts of exercise each day to keep the pelvic floor muscles strong and toned up and to prevent incontinence from coming back.
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Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Once you locate your pelvic floor muscles you are ready to begin. The exercise involves squeezing then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. Squeeze the muscles for five seconds and then relax the muscles for five seconds. Be sure to take the time to relax between squeezes so that your muscles can rest before squeezing again. Each squeeze and relax counts as one repetition.
Each set of exercises should include three different positions: 10 repetitions lying down, 10 sitting, and 10 standing. Do one set in the morning and one set at night .
What Are The Symptoms Of Incontinence
The main symptom of incontinence is a leakage of urine. This could be a constant dripping of urine or an occasional experience of leakage. If you have incontinence, you might have large amounts or small amounts of leaked urine. You might experience leakage for a wide variety of reasons often depending on the type of incontinence you have.
You might leak urine when you:
- Have an urge to urinate, but cant make it to the toilet on time.
- Have to get up in the middle of night to urinate .
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Can I Prevent Pelvic Floor Or Bladder Problems Later In Life
Its not always possible to prevent pelvic floor or bladder problems especially if, for example, youve sustained damage in childbirth. But leading a healthy lifestyle can help to keep your pelvic muscles healthy. Here are some changes you can make to help prevent leaks:
- Practise daily pelvic floor exercises and keep active
- Eat a healthy diet
- Drink plenty of water as it helps to eliminate waste through the bladder and bowels
- Lose excess weight, to reduce pressure on the pelvic floor
- Stop smoking, as it can lead to coughing, which can stress pelvic floor muscles
- Avoid lifting heavy objects. If you do lift anything, always tighten your pelvic floor muscles before and after the lift
- Avoid high-impact exercise like jumping or running if you have weak pelvic floor muscles
- Take your time and make sure you empty your bladder completely each time you go to the toilet
- If youre about to cough or sneeze, tighten your pelvic floor muscles
Walk Regularly To Avoid Retaining Fluids
Some people, like those who are sedentary or have heart disease, may develop fluid buildup in their legs during the day. At night, this fluid causes them to need to empty their bladders frequently. If you have fluid retention in your legs thats causing an active bladder overnight, try walking around more throughout the day. If you cant walk, flex your calf muscles and raise your legs to waist level.
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Who Could Benefit From Pelvic Floor Exercises
People who have faecal incontinence or bowel leakage may be helped by doing some specific exercises for the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles. These exercises could help improve the strength of the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles and improve bowel control. Talk to your healthcare professional before doing these exercises to see whether they could help you.
Pelvic Floor Exercises can help both men and women gain more control over bowel movements. These exercises are also used for men and women with bladder control problems.
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Isolating Your Bladder Muscles
Before you can perform bladder control exercises, its important to understand where your pelvic floor muscles are on your body and how to isolate them.
To isolate your pelvic floor muscles, here are some tips. Find somewhere comfortable to lay down on your back or sit in a relaxed position. Imagine that you are emptying your bladder. You should feel your pelvic floor muscles relax. Now imagine that you have to suddenly stop urine flow. You should be able to feel your pelvic floor muscles tighten as if you are actually holding back urine.
If youre still unsure about which muscles are part of your pelvic floor and which are not, here are some guidelines:
- When you tighten your pelvic floor muscles, you shouldnt feel tightening in your legs. If your thighs or buttocks tighten as you are trying to isolate your pelvic floor, this is unassociated with your bladder muscles.
- Your stomach muscles are also unassociated with your pelvic floor muscles.
- While contracting the pelvic floor, you should be able to breathe easily. If you stop breathing, hold your breath, or are gasping for air, chances are youre contracting the wrong muscles.
- The genitals, urethra, tailbone, and anus are part of the pelvic floor.
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