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Tuesday 18th June 2019

Pelvic floor exercise for bladder problems

20th December 2011

Men who have overactive bladders can benefit from pelvic floor exercises, as well as women, according to a recent US study.


The researchers found that the exercises worked as well as medications.

Jason Hafron, a urologist from the Royal Oak Hospital in Michigan, who did not take part in the study, said that the finding that behavioural treatment could have the same effect as drug treatment in men with overactive bladders was important.

He said the finding would increase people's awareness that exercise was a safer, cheaper, effective option for people.

People who have overactive bladder often experience strong urinary urges, which may lead to incontinence over time.

Women are often shown the exercises following childbirth, as a way of combating stress incontinence after the huge strain on pelvic muscles throughout pregnancy and childbirth.

But now it appears that men could benefit from them too.

Doctors often prescribe drugs known as alpha blockers, despite the fact that urinary problems may continue.

For the purposes of the study, the researchers recruited 143 men who all had urinary problems, even after taking alpha blockers.

Each man was randomly assigned to either take yet another drug (oxybutynin, sold under the name Ditropan XL) or to practicing behavioural techniques for eight weeks.

The men who were taught behavioural techniques were told to limit the amount of fluid they drank at night, to control their urge to urinate at night, and also given pelvic floor exercises.

The exercises involved alternately contracting and relaxing pelvic floor muscles for 10 seconds at a time.

Men who took the behaviour-modification route were asked to perform the exercises 45 times per day, which the men usually did in three separate sessions.

The men in both groups went from urinating about 11 times per day to doing so about nine times per day, which left 90% of them satisfied with their treatment.

Only two of the men who took drug treatments were able to cut down their nightly visits to the toilet, but all the men who did exercises were able to do so by five times per week on average.

Theodore Johnson, chief of geriatrics at Emory University in Atlanta, said that his trial studied an approach used in both women and men to see if an exercise-and-behaviour approach could be useful.

He said that people who did not respond well to one type of drug may not need to try taking another drug, if the exercises worked.

While the drugs do work for some, they also carry common side effects such as constipation and dry mouth.

Johnson said that the important things to remember about behavioural exercise were that it did not cost money and did not bring side effects.

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