New Study Shows Yoga Holds Promise for Urinary Incontinence

For years, yoga has been touted as a way to build strength and decrease stress, and now, a new study suggests a regular program of yoga might help reduce the symptoms of incontinence as well.

Conducted by researchers at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), the study looked at the effects of a regular six-week yoga program on urinary incontinence among 10 women and compared the results to a second group of 10 women who experienced the same symptoms but did not participate in yoga. What they found was surprising: Women who participated in the yoga program had a 70 percent decrease in the frequency of their urine leakage, including those unexpected leaks that can occur when coughing or sneezing.

The researchers believe yoga works in two ways to help reduce the symptoms of incontinence first, by strengthening the pelvic floor muscles which help support the bladder and control bladder leakage, and second, by reducing stress and anxiety that can exacerbate the symptoms of incontinence in some people who suffer from it. The intense focus involved in yoga may also help people become more aware of their pelvic muscles, which may aid in learning to control those muscles and decrease the likelihood of leakage, they added. Combined with regular exams and evaluations by a doctor, these results suggest that yoga could play an important role in helping patients maintain good bladder and pelvic health.

Although the current study focused on women who comprise the lion’s share of incontinence patients, male patients may also benefit from yoga. And of course, as with any exercise program, it’s a good idea to consult with your doctor before beginning any type of yoga or other exercise program to make sure you’re healthy enough to participate.