Menopausal women with osteoporosis are at a higher risk of incontinence compared to menopausal women with healthy bones. A recent study at the University of Montreal has found pelvic floor muscle exercises can produce dramatic improvements for these women. 

Forty-six volunteers were recruited for the study; all the women were menopausal, had osteoporosis and were affected by stress or urge incontinence or both.

Half of them received 12 weekly physical therapy classes that incorporated pelvic floor muscle exercises, while the remainder were counselled on diet and medications that would improve their bone density. This group was also counselled on the value of physical activity, but was not given physical therapy classes.

At the end of 12 weeks, the women in the physical therapy group had a 75 per cent reduction in leakage episodes. There was no change in the other group.

Furthermore, one year later, the women in the physical therapy group maintained or improved their leakage rates, while the other group’s incontinence stayed the same or worsened.

Dr Dumolin,one of the authors of the study published in the March Journal of the North American Menopausal Society, said it was the first study to evaluate the use of pelvic floor muscle training for women with osteoporosis and either stress or urge incontinence.

“The main message for women who have osteoporosis is that they should do pelvic floor exercises even if they don’t have incontinence, because fractures of the lumbar spine cause them to be slumped, and that puts more pressure on the pelvic floor,” Dr. Dumoulin said.

Ref: Sran M, Mercier J, Wilson P, Lieblich P, Dumoulin C, Menopause. (2016) Physical therapy for urinary incontinence in postmenopausal women with osteoporosis or low bone density: a randomized controlled trial. Mar; 23(3):286-93. doi: 10.1097/GME.0000000000000594.