By Jane Hart, MD
Healthnotes Newswire (September 13, 2007)—A new study shows that exercises to strengthen the pelvis may shorten the duration of an unpleasant side effect of a procedure commonly used to treat men with prostate cancer. A radical prostatectomy involves removing the cancerous prostate; however it has the unfortunate effect of causing urinary leakage, or incontinence.
Pelvic floor muscle training consists of repeatedly contracting the muscles that support the bladder and the urethra in order to strengthen these muscles and reduce urine leakage. People with other conditions may also benefit from these exercises such as women who experience incontinence following a hysterectomy.
A study published in the British Journal of Urology International reviewed 11 trials that evaluated the effects of pelvic floor muscle training on urinary incontinence after radical prostatectomy. The trials included a total of 1,028 men with an average age of 64. Results of the review showed that incontinence in men who had pelvic floor muscle training lasted for a shorter length of time after surgery compared with men who did not have the training.
The authors of the paper comment, “Urinary incontinence is a common and costly complication in men after [radical prostatectomy], often adversely affecting their quality of life.” They add that, following a radical prostatectomy, “Despite improvements in surgical techniques and a better understanding of pelvic anatomy, survey studies indicate that 8 to 56% of men report [urinary incontinence] at one year or more.”
Though not all the studies included in the review were of high quality, pelvic floor muscle training still appears to be a fairly easy and inexpensive way to help prevent urinary incontinence for a variety of conditions, including radical prostatectomy.
(BJU Int 2007;100:76–81)
Jane Hart, MD, board-certified in internal medicine, serves in a variety of professional roles including consultant, journalist, and educator. Dr. Hart, a Clinical Instructor at Case Medical School in Cleveland, Ohio, writes extensively about health and wellness and a variety of other topics for nationally recognized organizations, Web sites, and print publications. Sought out for her expertise in the areas of integrative and preventive medicine, she is frequently quoted by national and local media. Dr. Hart is a professional lecturer for healthcare professionals, consumers, and youth and is a regular corporate speaker.
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