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Muscle training effective in treating incontinence

Pelvic floor muscle training is effective for treating adult women with urinary incontinence without risk of side effects, according to a recent report.

The report, which was conducted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality and published online in Annals of Internal Medicine (April 10, 2012), also found that drug-based treatments can be effective, but the degree of benefit is low and side effects are common.

"This new report will help women and their clinicians work together to find the best treatment option based on each patient’s individual circumstances," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy, MD.

The authors concentrated on stress incontinence and urgency incontinence. Exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, similar to Kegel exercises, were found to be effective in increasing women’s ability to hold their urine. Pelvic floor muscle training, combined with bladder training, improved mixed incontinence, the authors found. Estrogen treatment was found to be effective in treating stress incontinence, but with some side effects.

Overall, the authors found that the drugs reviewed showed similar effectiveness. However, with some drugs, more women discontinued treatment due to bothersome side effects.

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