A pelvic muscle precontraction can reduce cough-related urine loss in selected women with mild SUI

J Am Geriatr Soc. 1998 Jul;46(7):870-4. doi: 10.1111/j.1532-5415.1998.tb02721.x.


Objectives: To test the hypothesis that selected older women with mild-to-moderate stress urinary incontinence (SUI) can learn to demonstrate significantly reduced urine loss in 1 week by intentionally contracting the pelvic floor muscles before and during a cough (a skill we have termed "The Knack").

Design: A prospective, randomized, single-blind interventional study.

Setting: The Older American Independence Center, a federally sponsored research program affiliated with the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Participants: Twenty-seven women with a mean (SD) age of 68.0 (5.5) years, self-reported SUI, and demonstrable urine loss during a deep cough.

Intervention: Women were randomized to an immediate intervention group (Group I: n=13) who were taught the Knack after their first clinic visit, or a wait-listed control group (Group II: n=14) who were taught the Knack after 1 month.

Measurements: At 1 week after instruction, we tested the efficacy of the Knack in a standing stress test by (1) comparing the volumes of cough-related urine loss leaked by all subjects, with and without use of the Knack, and (2) comparing the volumes of cough-related urine loss leaked by Group I, using the Knack, with Group II, which had not yet been taught the Knack.

Results: Intra-individual results showed that at 1-week follow-up, the Knack was used to reduce urine loss resulting from a medium cough by an average of 98.2%, compared with that of a similar cough performed 1 minute before without the Knack (P=.009); likewise urine loss was reduced by an average of 73.3% (P=.003) in a deep cough. Reduction in urine loss was not significantly correlated with a digital measure of pelvic floor muscle strength.

Conclusion: Within 1 week, selected older women with mild-to-moderate SUI can acquire the skill of using a properly-timed pelvic floor muscle contraction to significantly reduce urine leakage during a cough.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cough / physiopathology*
  • Exercise Therapy / methods
  • Exercise Therapy / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Contraction*
  • Pelvic Floor
  • Prospective Studies
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress / physiopathology*
  • Urinary Incontinence, Stress / rehabilitation