Female urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a common problem experienced by many women. It is not embarrassing, and it does not have to be kept in secret. If it affects the daily life and its quality, it is best to see a GP, a gynaecologist or a physiotherapist specialising in pelvic floor disorders. To prevent it, or even to reduce mild urinary incontinence it is often recommended to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, for example, with exercises. But there are also other effective treatments for urinary incontinence.

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Menstrual cups for urinary incontinence

A menstrual cup can help with mild stress urinary incontinence in women. Gym exercises, coughing or jogging may create extra pressure on the bladder, causing leakage of urine. A menstrual cup mechanically raises the angle of the urethra, allowing it to maintain the consistent pressure. This helps to prevent or significantly reduce stress urinary incontinence.

We conducted a pilot study in 2019–2020. The study included 30 women aged 30-80 years with mild or moderate stress urinary incontinence. All of them had sought medical help because of female incontinence symptoms. After 3 months more than 90% felt improvements upon starting to use a menstrual cup. Urinary incontinence stopped or was significantly reduced in more than 90% of the women in the study. Women wore menstrual cups for either 12 hours (morning to evening) or during sport exercises. Menstrual cups were reported to be easy to wear and useful, especially during sport activities.

However, a menstrual cup may not be a sufficiently effective remedy for persistent female incontinence. In this case, in addition to physiotherapy, it is recommended to consider surgery, such as sling operation, which is the most effective treatment for severe stress urinary incontinence.


Stress urinary incontinence

Urinary incontinence is a common problem that is believed to affect almost half of all women. Urinary incontinence appears more often with age and especially after menopause due to a decrease in estrogen and atrophy of urethral tissue. As much as 7% of women aged 20-40, 20% of women aged 40-60 and one in three women aged 60-80 suffer from such female incontinence.

Age, number of births, obesity, connective tissue weakening, physically demanding work, chronic cough, and smoking, among other factors, can cause urinary incontinence in women.

In stress urinary incontinence, the leakage of urine happens because of increased intra-abdominal pressure. It can be caused by, for example, coughing, laughing, jumping, running, or exercising, even when there is no actual urge to urinate. The pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue fail to support the urethra, and when the pressure inside the abdominal cavity rises higher than the pressure in the urethra, some urine leaks. The amount of leaked urine in these cases is often quite small.

Exercises to help female incontinence

One of the easiest treatments for female incontinence is regular exercise, which can be done even at home, at any time. It is recommended to do exercises for strength, endurance, and speed of the pelvic floor muscles 5 times a week, for a few minutes each time. You can check the right type of muscle contraction, if you put two fingers in the vagina and contract the vaginal muscles around the fingers like when holding urine. The muscles of the pelvic floor should feel squeezed around the fingers.

To train the muscle strength, contract your anus, vagina, and urethra as if you were holding urine. Keep the maximum contraction for 5 to 10 seconds, and then relax the pelvic floor for 10 seconds. Repeat the exercise at least 5 times.

For endurance training, try to gently contract the pelvic floor from the anus to the urethra for 20 seconds, then relax the muscles. Repeat the exercise at least 5 times.

For speed training, contract the pelvic floor muscles as quickly and vigorously as possible, and then relax the pelvic floor muscles. Repeat 10 times. This exercise is also good to try while urinating: cut off the urine stream by squeezing the pelvic floor, then let it resume.
It is important to train the pelvic floor muscles throughout your life. A healthy pelvic floor supports your urethra, vagina and rectum. Together with the deep back and abdominal muscles, and the diaphragm arch, it also supports the lumbar spine. The same muscles also play an important role in sexual life and sexual satisfaction. So these exercises can prove useful for your body, even if you haven’t experienced urinary incontinence.


Seeking treatment for urinary incontinence?

According to our pilot study, a menstrual cup is an effective remedy in mild stress urinary incontinence that happens, for example, when coughing, jogging or exercising in a gym. A menstrual cup is a sustainable and ecological option that brings a new feeling of freedom for your period. Having tried it once, you will not want to go back to the old ways of menstrual protection.

Nomai Menstrual Cup is designed by a gynaecologist and fits a woman’s body perfectly. Our selection includes three different sizes - check it out!