Behavioral Treatments for Urge Incontinence continued...
Here are some techniques that may be helpful:
- Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a practice that helps you learn how your body normally behaves. When you do, you will know when it is not functioning properly. In the case of urge incontinence, biofeedback can help you recognize when your bladder is overactive.
Two biofeedback techniques are timed voiding and bladder training. To practice timed voiding, you use a chart to record the times that you urinate and when you leak urine. This will give you an idea of your leakage "patterns." Then you can avoid leaking in the future by going to the bathroom at those times.
With bladder training, you "stretch out" the intervals at which you go to the bathroom. You do this by waiting a little longer before you go. For instance, to start, you can plan to go to the bathroom once an hour. You follow this pattern for a period of time, and then you change the schedule so that you are going to the bathroom every 90 minutes. Then eventually, you lengthen the interval to every two hours, and so on, until you are up to three or four hours between bathroom visits.
- Kegel exercises: Kegel exercises, also called pelvic floor exercises, help strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, uterus, and bowels. By strengthening these muscles, you can reduce or prevent problems such as leaking urine.
To do Kegel exercises, pretend you are trying to stop the flow of urine (although not when you are urinating, as this may hurt the bladder muscle) or trying not to pass gas. When you do this, you are contracting the muscles of the pelvic floor. While doing these exercises, try not to move your leg, buttock, or abdominal muscles. In fact, no one should be able to tell that you are doing Kegel exercises.
Kegel exercises should be done every day, five sets a day. Each time you contract the muscles of the pelvic floor, hold for a slow count of five and then relax. Repeat this 10 times for one set of Kegels.
- Weighted cones: Another technique that can strengthen the pelvis and bladder muscles is the use of weighted cones. You insert the tampon-shaped cone into the vagina and hold it there by contracting your pelvic muscles. As you do this exercise and these muscles strengthen, the weight of the cone is gradually increased. This will improve your ability to hold urine until you get to a bathroom.
Other behavioral tips for preventing urge incontinence include:
- going to the bathroom on a regular basis, especially before physical activity
- avoiding drinking caffeine or a lot of fluids before activities
- not drinking any fluids right before you go to bed
- avoiding lifting heavy objects
- losing weight