Specialized Yoga Helps Prevent Urine Incontinence

First Posted: Apr 26, 2014 05:42 AM EDT

Special yoga can help women suffering from loss of bladder control, a common and embarrassing problem, says a new study.

Researchers at the university of California San Francisco, found that the ancient form of exercise can help women deal with urinary incontinence. They discovered that a particular yoga training program designed to improve a woman's pelvic health helps them gain more control over the problem and prevent any accidental leakage.

"Yoga is often directed at mindful awareness, increasing relaxation, and relieving anxiety and stress," first author Alison Huang, MD, assistant professor in the UCSF School of Medicine, said in a news statement. "For these reasons, yoga has been directed at a variety of other conditions - metabolic syndrome or pain syndromes - but there's also a reason to think that it could help for incontinence as well."

"We specifically developed a yoga therapy program that would be safe for older women, including women with minor mobility limitations," Huang said. "So we were partially assessing safety of this program for older women who are at highest risk for having incontinence in the first place."

For this study, the researchers recruited 20 women of age 40 years and older, all from the Bay Area.  They all reported having urinary incontinence on everyday basis.   Among the 20 participants, 10 were randomly made to participate in a six week yoga therapy and the other 10 were kept as controls.

The researcher saw that the women who underwent six weeks of yoga therapy reported a 70 percent improvement in their incontinence problem. On the other hand, the control group had just 13 percent improvement.  The greatest improvement was see in stress induced incontinence or urine leakage that occurs due to activities that increase abdominal pressure such as coughing, sneezing and bending over.

The researchers strongly believe that yoga helps improve urinary incontinence more than any other means. Since incontinence is linked with anxiety and depression, women can also gain the benefits of yoga for a relaxed mind. Regularly performing yoga helps women strengthen the pelvic floor muscle that in turn helps support the bladder and offers protection against incontinence.

"We thought this would be a good opportunity for women to use yoga to become more aware of and have more control over their pelvic floor muscles," Huang said.

According to the National Association for Continence, there are nearly 25 million adults in America who are diagnosed with urinary incontinence and 80 percent of them are women. 

The researchers highlight that not all types of yoga offer protection against accidental urine leakage. This study did not include men as the urinary incontinence in men is associated with prostrate which would improve despite undertaking yoga therapy. 

The finding was documented in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstruction Surgery.

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