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Sex, Exercise, and Stress Incontinence

Workouts and romance may both trigger 'accidents,' but stress incontinence treatments can bring relief.

Kegels Can Help Stress Incontinence continued...

The beauty of Kegels, most experts find, is that they can be done anytime and just about anywhere -- sitting in your car or at your desk or watching television or while talking on the phone. No one will know what you are doing unless you tell them. But to ensure proper form, ask your doctor or nurse to describe to you exactly how to do them correctly.

If you do Kegels correctly and often, you can expect to leak less, Rosenman says.

Typically, bladder control improves after 6 to 12 weeks of daily Kegels, according to the AAFP. But you may notice improvement in stress incontinence after just a few weeks.

Kegels and Vaginal Weights for Stress Incontinence

Another way to prevent stress incontinence is to use vaginal weights. Vaginal weights can help you to isolate the pelvic floor muscles while doing your Kegel exercises. They come in various sizes and are inserted into the vagina using a cone. As you progress, you insert heavier weights.

Vaginal weight kits are sold online and over the counter.

Biofeedback for Stress Incontinence

Biofeedback, as the name implies, uses monitors and "feeds back" information to patients about body processes, including control of the pelvic floor muscles.

In one study of 14 women with stress incontinence, a 12-week program of pelvic floor training with biofeedback gave favorable results, according to a report published in the International Brazilian Journal of Urology. The number of leakage episodes decreased from about eight a day to 2.5 among study participants, the researchers report.

Self-Help Products for Stress Incontinence

If your stress incontinence is not severe, you may get by with urinary incontinence products such as pads and panty liners. You might want to consider rubberized bed sheets.

Another stress incontinence treatment option is a device called a pessary, which is inserted into the vagina to help elevate the bladder neck and keep urine from leaking.

Medications, Surgery for Stress Incontinence

If your stress incontinence becomes more severe or if it interferes with your lifestyle and kegel exercises and other self-help measures fail, your doctor may suggest medications or surgery.

Medications can help tighten muscles at the bladder neck and urethra, preventing urine from leaking and relieving stress incontinence.

In one operation for stress incontinence, surgical threads are used to help support the bladder neck. In another procedure, called a "sling" operation, the surgeon uses strips of material, either natural or synthetic tissue, to support the bladder neck.

Talking to Your Doctor About Stress Incontinence

Your doctor should routinely ask you about your bladder function to determine if you are having stress incontinence or urge incontinence (also called overactive bladder), Rosenman says.

If your doctor does not ask, Rosenman advocates the straightforward approach. Try something like: "I'm having some problems with my bladder." At that point, if your doctor does not pepper you with questions about how often you experience symptoms, and how long it has been going on, Rosenman suggests asking for a referral to another doctor or to a specialist, such as a urogynecologist. A urogynecologist is a gynecologist who has extra training in urology.

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