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Experts Recommend Nonsurgical Treatments for Urinary Incontinence

Update Date: Sep 16, 2014 12:17 PM EDT

Urinary incontinence, which is the loss of bladder control, does not have to be treated with medication or surgery, experts report. According to the latest guidelines drafted by the American College of Physicians (ACP), women with different kinds of urinary incontinence can try nonsurgical treatments first, such as exercise routines that strengthen pelvic floor muscles, therapy to train the bladder and weight loss.

"Physicians should utilize nondrug treatments as much as possible for urinary incontinence," Dr. David Fleming, president of the ACP, said in a press release. "Although various drugs can improve UI and provide complete continence, adverse effects often lead many patients to stop taking their medication."

Women who suffer from stress urinary incontinence cannot control their urine flow. In certain situations, a simple laugh or sneeze can cause urine to leak out, which can negatively impact women's social life. For this particular problem, the guidelines recommend women to partake in Kegel exercises that can strengthen pelvic floor muscles. These muscles are tied to the bladder, uterus, vagina and rectum.

For women with urgency urinary incontinence, which is when the body has the urge to pee all the time or when urine leaks for no reason, the experts recommend bladder training. In bladder training, women learn how to slowly increase the amount of time between bathroom sessions in order to build up control over the bladder. The physicians added that a combination of both forms of nonsurgical treatments could help women suffering from stress and urgency urinary incontinence.

The team noted that for obese women suffering from either or both forms of urinary incontinence, losing weight could relieve the symptoms. Women should consider medication and surgery if these treatments fail.

Urinary incontinence affects roughly 44 to 57 percent of women between the ages of 40 to 60. In women aged 75 and older, the rate is at 75 percent.

The study, "Nonsurgical Management of Urinary Incontinence in Women: A Clinical Practice Guideline From the American College of Physicians," was published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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