Do you pee a little when you laugh, or sneeze? It turns out there’s a good app for that.
Stress incontinence develops when your urinary sphincter (which controls the release of urine) and your pelvic floor muscles (which support your bladder) become weak. In women, the most common cause is nerve and tissue damage from childbirth, which may lead to annoying leakage right away or years down the road.
If you're struggling with the frustrating problem, you might want to check out Tät: A recent study found that the free Android app helped many women reduce the severity of their symptoms in three months' time.
Essentially, Tät is a training program for your pelvic floor. It guides you through progressively challenging exercises to build up strength; when you master one, you move on to the next. And for each exercise, graphics illustrate how long, and how intensely, you should contract your muscles. The app also offers lifestyle advice, and lets you set reminders so you stick to your regular "workouts."
To find out whether Tät actually makes a difference, researchers from Umeå University in northern Sweden split 123 women with stress incontinence into two groups. One group used the app for three months. The other group, a control, received no treatment.
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According to the authors, who published their findings in the journal Neurology and Urodynamics, Tät yielded "clinically relevant improvements." At the end of the study period, participants in the app group had fewer leaks per week, used fewer pads, and reported better quality of life.
"Two thirds of the women using the app were satisfied with the treatment outcomes," lead author Ina Asklund, PhD, told Health in an email.
One of the aspects of Tät they appreciated most? Its accessibility.
“Women experienced that the app was suitable for this kind of [pelvic floor] training since they carried their smartphones with them at all times, and the reminders helped and motivated them to perform their training regularly," Asklund explained.
For women who'd prefer to manage their incontinence themselves, this is an option worth trying, she says: "There are many health apps, but very few are evaluated in research studies.”