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Kegel exercises reduce urinary incontinence in women, study confirms

Women suffering from urinary incontinence can benefit from pelvic floor muscle training, commonly known as Kegel exercises, according to a new review of studies.

A supervised regimen of Kegel exercises for at least three months was found to be especially effective for stress incontinence. Men also can use Kegel exercises, but were not included in the analysis.

The systematic review, led by Jean Hay-Smith, Ph.D., of the Wellington School of Medicine and Health Sciences at the University of Otago in Dunedin, New Zealand, was based on data from six randomized controlled trials involving 403 women.

The review appeared in The Cochrane Library, published by The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research. These reviews draw their conclusions about medical practice based on evidence from several clinical studies on a given topic, after the reviewers consider both the content and quality of these studies.

The researchers found that Kegel exercise programs are more effective if steps are taken to ensure that patient are exercising the correct muscles and are given support in sticking with the exercises.

"It seems strange that we consult personal trainers, gym instructors and physical therapists about strengthening other muscles in the body, but few women have an assessment and individualized program for their pelvic floor muscles," Hay-Smith said.

The studies compared the exercises were compared to no treatment, a placebo drug or an inactive control treatment. In the study with the smallest effect, women who did the exercises were 2.5 times more likely to be cured, while women in another study were about 17 times more likely to be cured.

Urinary incontinence can take the form of stress incontinence (losing bladder control during exercise, a cough or a sneeze), urge incontinence (losing control because of a sudden need to urinate) or a combination of the two.

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Contact: Jean Hay-Smith
jean.hay-smith@otago.ac.nz
Center for the Advancement of Health
2-Feb-2006


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