More than half of all women experience some kind of urinary leakage at some point during their lives. There are two types: stress incontinence, which occurs during exercise or when you cough, and urge incontinence, a strong, sudden need to urinate.
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"The vast majority of stress incontinence occurs after childbirth," according to Theodore Benderev, M.D., medical director of the Incontinence and Pelvic Support Institute in Mission Viejo, California. Labor and weight gain can stretch out the pelvic-floor support structure, he explains, which causes the urethra to sag and prevents it from closing. Less common triggers include urinary tract infections and high-blood pressure medications.
Get relief from leaking urine
Regular Kegel exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor, says Benderev. (To do, imagine you're trying to stop the flow of urine, holding those muscles for a count of 10. Then relax for two or three breaths; repeat 10 times three times a day.) Combining Kegel exercises with vaginal weights, coneshaped devices that you insert into the vagina, is also effective, according to a study in The Cochrane Library. Another lowtech option is a pessary, a stiff vaginal ring that helps support the nearby urethra, preventing leakage.
Still need help? Your doctor may be able to prescribe a medication for urge incontinence, says Benderev. She might also recommend biofeedback, a technique that monitors bodily processes and helps you gain control of them, or an electrical stimulation device, which causes the muscles to contract in a Kegel-like manner.
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