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Ask the nurse: Can Pelvic Floor Muscle Training cure incontinence? 

Have you ever wished incontinence could be cured without surgery, pills, injections or side effects?

Pelvic Floor Muscle Training has been around since 1948, with high level research showing all it takes is three months of supervised therapy.

The training is a highly effective treatment for stress, urge and mixed urinary incontinence, when performed correctly under the supervision of a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist.

Step 1: Find your pelvic floor muscles 

Men and women have pelvic floor muscles. They fill the gap at the base of your pelvis and despite being surprisingly small, they do a big job. Like our other muscles, they get stronger with training and fortunately, it’s never too late to start training them.

The muscles attach to the coccyx bone, the pubic bone and the two ischial tuberosities (the bones you sit on). Together, they form a sling to support the pelvic organs and have openings for the urethra, vagina and anus.

Step 2: Get it right 

When you contract the muscles, they close the urethra and anus and narrow the vaginal opening or retract the penis. They also lift inwards towards your stomach.

The contraction isn’t seen on the outside and doesn’t interfere with normal breathing. You should feel the muscle squeeze the anus and urethra closed and can feel the vagina or scrotum lift upwards. However, one in three people need expert help to get it right.

Squeezing strong pelvic floor muscles stops the flow of urine or faeces and relaxing them allows the urine or faeces to pass. It is also important to be able to relax your pelvic floor muscles.

Once you feel your pelvic floor muscles squeezing and relaxing, do 10 strong squeezes in a row. This helps stop urine leaking when you cough or sneeze.

Practicing longer squeezes of 10 and 30 seconds each helps you get to the toilet without losing control.

Now do these exercises every day.

It takes several weeks for the muscles to get stronger, but some people notice a difference a lot sooner.

People with incontinence often cannot feel the muscles working and may use the wrong muscles or even push down. Others have very tight or stiff pelvic floor muscles, which also causes problems. If you cannot feel your pelvic floor muscles squeezing, lifting and relaxing, it is essential you seek help from a Pelvic Floor Physiotherapist. Expert help is also needed if you’ve previously tried similar exercises and they haven’t helped.

The National Continence Helpline can help you find a continence nurse or pelvic floor physiotherapist in your area. Phone: 1800 33 00 66

Author: Therese (Terry) Wesselink is a registered Physiotherapist with post graduate qualifications in Pelvic Floor Physiotherapy.

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