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Urinary incontinence can be alleviated and treated without the use of medications or surgery, according to new guidelines. These recommendations were published in the September 15 issue of the medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine. According to the study, the best nonsurgical treatment options include Kegel exercises, bladder training, and even weight loss, which have been proven as effective ways to treat urinary incontinence, particularly in women.
According to the new guidelines released by the American College of Physicians (ACP), nonsurgical treatment options, such as exercises and bladder training, should be tried before the use of drug treatments or surgery is considered. The new guidelines review the benefits and risks of treatments for two common types of urinary incontinence (UI)–stress and urgency UI. Stress incontinence is characterized by loss of urine while laughing, coughing, or sneezing. While urgency incontinence is defined by the loss of urine after a sudden urge to urinate.
Urinary incontinence (the involuntary release of urine) is a common problem that occurs in 44 to 57 percent of women ages 40 to 60, and 75 percent of women ages 75 and older. The condition can cause embarrassment and emotional distress, and many women are reluctant to report such symptoms to their doctor. As a result, experts have suggested the actual number of patients affected by UI is much larger than reported.
Under the new guidelines, the ACP recommended Kegel exercises as the best treatment option for stress UI. Kegel exercises are used to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. These are the muscles that support various organs located in the pelvic region, including the bladder, uterus, vagina, and rectum. These are also the muscles used to stop urination midstream. Studies suggest that Kegel exercises are five times more effective in alleviating symptoms in women affected by stress UI than leaving the condition untreated. Moreover, the ACP does not recommend drug treatments for women with stress UI. This is because drug treatments have not been proven effective in treating stress urinary incontinence.
For women affected by urgency UI, the ACP guidelines recommended bladder training as the best treatment option. Bladder training involves the use of behavioral therapy, which is used to instruct the bladder to void on a set schedule. Drug treatments are recommended for urgency UI only if bladder training does not prove to be an effective treatment option. This is because drug treatments can cause a myriad of side effects including constipation, vision problems, headache, vertigo, insomnia, and even dizziness, which can hamper a patient’s ability to remain on the medication.
For those women who are affected by both stress and urgency UI, the new guidelines recommended the use of Kegel exercises along with bladder training. For women who are obese, the ACP also recommended weight loss and exercise. The guidelines do not specifically address surgical treatments, which may be a last resort option in cases where conservative treatment options have not been proven effective.
In addition to alleviating and treating urinary incontinence, some researchers have also suggested the use of Kegel exercises could help with sexual dysfunction and achieving orgasm. However, the evidence for this claim is debatable, as some studies show the exercises alone do not help improve women’s sexual function.
According to new guidelines, urinary incontinence can be alleviated and treated without the use of medications or surgery. The new recommendations, which were published in the September 15 issue of the medical journal, Annals of Internal Medicine, stressed the use of nonsurgical treatment options, such as Kegel exercises, bladder training, and weight loss, as the most effective ways to treat urinary incontinence, particularly in women. The condition affects women much more frequently than men, however, they are not immune to it. Any individual who is obese and/or suffers from a variety of medical issues could be affected by urinary incontinence. The new guidelines recommended that nonsurgical treatments should be attempted before the use of drug treatments or surgery is considered.
By Leigh Haugh