According to a new study from UC San Francisco published in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, yoga can help women who suffer from urinary incontinence through its relief of the anxiety and depression related to incontinence and its ability to strengthen the pelvic floor.
Approximately 25 million adults in America suffer from some form of urinary incontinence, and up to 80 percent of them are women. In a study published on April 25, 2014 in Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery, UCSF researchers found that a yoga training program designed to improve pelvic health can help women gain more control over their urination and avoid accidental urine leakage. Men were not included in this study because urinary incontinence in men is often related to problems related to the prostate, which may be less likely to improve with yoga.
Alison Huang, MD, assistant professor in the UCSF School of Medicine, and her colleagues recruited 20 women from the Bay Area who were 40 years and older and who suffered from urinary incontinence on a daily basis. Half were randomly assigned to take part in a six-week yoga therapy program and the other half were not. The women who took part in the yoga program experienced an overall 70 percent improvement (reduction) in the frequency of urine leakage, compared to only 13 percent improvement in the group that did not take part in the yoga program.
Huang and her colleagues believe that yoga can improve urinary incontinence both through its emphasis on mindful meditation and relaxation, which may relieve the anxiety and depression related to urinary incontinence, as well as by helping women strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor that support the bladder, thus preventing against incontinence. The added benefit of yoga, Huang says, is that it can also serve as “a way for women to gain more control over their pelvic floor muscles without having to go through traditional costly and time-intensive rehabilitation therapy.”
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