December 04, 2014

by Tony Isaacs

(The Best Years in Life) Overactive bladder, or urinary incontinence, is one of the most common chronic conditions in the US. People of all ages and genders are susceptible to overactive bladder, though the condition is seen most often in women. It is difficult to get an exact number of how many people experience overactive bladder because many cases go unreported – probably due to understandable but needless embarrassment. The good news is that relief from overactive bladder may be found in simple exercises, dietary and lifestyle changes and items found in nature’s fields and meadows.

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Needing to urinate more often than normal and leaking urine are common symptoms of overactive bladder. Changes associated with age are not necessarily the cause. In fact, experts don’t know what usually causes these involuntary contractions of the bladder. Drug side effects, as well as urinary tract infections, impaired kidney function, diabetes, bladder stones, and tumors have all been linked to the condition. Thus, it would be a good idea to begin addressing overactive bladder by first seeing a qualified medical professional to rule out such possible culprits.

There are three different categories of actual overactive bladder: stress incontinence is urine lost when coughing, sneezing or laughing; urge incontinence is a strong desire to urinate, frequent urination, getting up at night, with the person unable to get to the bathroom in time; mixed incontinence is a combination of these two types. Regardless of the type of overactive bladder, physical exercises, dietary and lifestyle changes and supplementation may all help correct and control the condition.


Research suggests that exercises for the bladder can cut overactive bladder episodes by about half, and they have virtually no side effects. Bladder training (or bladder retraining) is the most common overactive bladder treatment which doesn’t involve medication. Bladder training helps change the way you use the bathroom. Instead of going whenever you feel the urge, you urinate at set times of the day – a practice which is referred to as scheduled voiding. With scheduled voiding you learn to control the urge to go by waiting until your bladder is actually full instead of when you feel the urge. An excellent way to start bladder training is to keep a daily diary of all episodes of urination and leakage and then create a timetable for urination which is most likely to prevent the potential for a possible accident. As time goes by, gradually increase the time between bathroom visits with a goal of working up to one, two or even three or more hours between visits.

Pelvic exercises called Kegels can also be very effective against overactive bladder. Just as you exercise to strengthen your arms, abs, and other parts of your body, so can you exercise to strengthen the muscles that control urination. During these pelvic floor exercises, you tighten, hold, and then relax the muscles you use to start and stop the flow of urination. Kegel exercises should be familiar among women who have had children in recent years, since birthing classes usually instruct pregnant women to do the exercises throughout their pregnancy to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and help decrease stress incontinence due to carrying a child and going through childbirth. Pelvic muscles will relax under your command, and will control the opening and closing of the urethral sphincter. These are the muscles that enable you to have urinary control. When these muscles become weak, leakage will occur.

The continuous use of Kegel exercise will enable you to build up and strengthen the endurance of your muscles and regain bladder control. You can easily make these pelvic exercises a part of your daily routine, but you must be sure to do them regularly in order to benefit from them. Kegel exercise can be done discreetly during your regular daily routine – such as when you’re at your desk at work reading or typing, while you watch TV, or when you’re in your car stuck in traffic. In about three to six weeks, you should see an improvement with your ability to control your bladder, as well as notice less and less urine leakage. Using a special form of training called biofeedback can help you locate the right muscles to squeeze. Start with just a few Kegel exercises and gradually work your way up to three sets of 10. Another method for strengthening pelvic floor muscles for women is with electrical stimulation, which sends a small electrical pulse to the area via electrodes placed in the vagina or rectum.

While the information included here about Kegel exercise is tailored more for women, it is important to note that Kegel exercise can be used effectively by men as well. An internet search for “Kegel exercises” will return many helpful how-to sites and videos. One example is:

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