You might want to consider making pelvic floor exercises part of your daily routine, if you haven't done so already.
A recent federal report indicates that the exercises -- sometimes called Kegels -- are an effective way to stop urinary incontinence.
Consider that urinary incontinence is quite common, affecting about a quarter of young women and more than half of women in middleage and beyond. It can come and go throughout your life, but it might be more pronounced after childbirth or in the menopausal years.
The condition has many causes, but two of its better-known forms are stress incontinence and urgency incontinence. Stress incontinence has to do with those little urine leaks after a sneeze or cough or exercise.
Urgency incontinence is an involuntary loss of control that compels an immediate trip to the bathroom. Both types often stem from weak pelvic floor muscles, which support the bladder, uterus and other organs.
The report from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, was issued in April 2012 and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.
According to the AHRQ press release, pelvic muscle floor training is effective for treating adult women with urinary incontinence without risk of side effects.
"Urinary incontinence can affect women in a variety of ways, including physically, psychologically and socially – and some of these impacts can be severe," said AHRQ Director Carolyn M. Clancy. "This new report will help women and their clinicians work together to find the best treatment option based on each patient's individual circumstances."
In comparing treatments for urinary incontinence, the researchers for AHRQ analyzed pelvic floor exercises similar to Kegels to see how well they worked in combination with bladder training. Other treatments also were analyzed.
The study concluded:
The combination of pelvic muscle and bladder training improved the condition in cases of mixed incontinence, involving both stress and urgency incontinence.
Estrogen was effective in treating stress incontinence, but came with side effects.