Urinary incontinence can have a massive impact on our lives. Pelvic floor muscle exercises can help both men and women gain more control over their symptoms, but it's not always easy to find them!
Your pelvic floor muscles act like a sling to support your bladder and bowel and need to be strong and supportive. If they become weak, you might have leakage from your bladder when you cough, sneeze, laugh, exercise, lift or bend (stress incontinence).
When you have an urgent need to empty your bladder or bowel (urgency), a weak pelvic floor may mean you could sometimes fail to reach the toilet in time (urge incontinence).
Another problem could be the sensation of something coming down at the birth canal or back passage (prolapse): or being unable to control wind when bending over or lifting.
The pelvic floor muscles can become weak or damaged as a result of:
- Pregnancy and childbirth
- Menopausal changes
- Continual straining to empty the bowels
- Being overweight
- Frequent heavy lifting
- Chronic cough
- Following pelvic or prostate surgery
Pelvic floor muscle exercises can help both men and women gain more control over their symptoms, but it's not always easy to find them!
- Imagine that you're trying to stop yourself passing wind from the bowel
To do this you must squeeze the muscles around the back passage. Try squeezing and lifting that muscle.
- Imagine you're trying to stop passing urine
You should be using the same group of muscles that you used before, but don’t be surprised if you find this harder.
Do not try to stop the stream when you are actually passing water as this may, if repeated, cause problems with correct emptying.
- Your pelvic floor muscles need to have stamina
To improve endurance, tighten and pull in the pelvic floor muscles for as long as you can. Build up your ability and strength until you can do 10 slow contractions at a time, holding them for 10 seconds each with rests of 4 seconds in-between.
- Your pelvic floor muscles need to react quickly to sudden stresses
Coughing, laughing and exercise put pressure on the bladder. Practice some quick contractions by drawing in the pelvic floor quickly and strongly. Hold or a few seconds before relaxing and repeating.
You can do these exercises either standing, sitting or lying down. If you are unable to feel a definite squeeze and lift action of your pelvic floor muscles, you should seek professional help to get your pelvic floor muscles working correctly.
Remember, it takes 2-3 months for the muscle to strengthen, and you need to continue them on a daily basis so don’t give up!
See your GP if you have any type of urinary incontinence. It is a common problem, so don’t feel embarrassed to talk about your symptoms. This can also be the first step to finding a way to effectively manage the problem. For a no-nonsense chat with our Private Patient team to discuss treatments we offer call 01580 363158.
Published on 19 June 2020