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A Group-Based Yoga Therapy Intervention for Urinary Incontinence in Women: A Pilot Randomized Trial

Huang, Alison J. MD, MAS; Jenny, Hillary E. BS; Chesney, Margaret A. PhD; Schembri, Michael BS; Subak, Leslee L. MD

Female Pelvic Medicine & Reconstructive Surgery: May/June 2014 - Volume 20 - Issue 3 - p 147–154
doi: 10.1097/SPV.0000000000000072
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Objective The aim of this study is to examine the feasibility, efficacy, and safety of a group-based yoga therapy intervention for middle-aged and older women with urinary incontinence.

Methods We conducted a pilot randomized trial of ambulatory women aged 40 years and older with stress, urgency, or mixed-type incontinence. Women were randomized to a 6-week yoga therapy program (n = 10) consisting of twice weekly group classes and once weekly home practice or a wait-list control group (n = 9). All participants also received written pamphlets about standard behavioral self-management strategies for incontinence. Changes in incontinence were assessed with 7-day voiding diaries.

Results The mean (SD) age was 61.4 (8.2) years, and the mean baseline frequency of incontinence was 2.5 (1.3) episodes/d. After 6 weeks, the total incontinence frequency decreased by 70% (1.8 [0.9] fewer episodes/d) in the yoga therapy versus 13% (0.3 [1.7] fewer episodes/d) in the control group (P = 0.049). Participants in the yoga therapy group also reported an average of 71% decrease in stress incontinence frequency (0.7 [0.8] fewer episodes/d) compared with a 25% increase in controls (0.2 [1.1] more episodes/d) (P = 0.039). No significant differences in reduction in urgency incontinence were detected between the yoga therapy versus control groups (1.0 [1.0] versus 0.5 [0.5] fewer episodes/d; P = 0.20). All women starting the yoga therapy program completed at least 90% of the group classes and practice sessions. Two participants in each group reported adverse events unrelated to the intervention.

Conclusions Findings provide preliminary evidence to support the feasibility, efficacy, and safety of a group-based yoga therapy intervention to improve urinary incontinence in women.

This pilot trial provides preliminary evidence of the feasibility, efficacy, and safety of a yoga therapy intervention to improve urinary incontinence.

From the *Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA; †Icahn School of Medicine at Mt Sinai, New York, NY; Departments of ‡Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, and §Urology, University of California San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.

Reprints: Alison J. Huang, MD, MAS, University of California San Francisco, Campus Box 1793, 1635 Divisadero St, Suite 600, San Francisco, CA 94143-1793. E-mail:

Funding sources: This research was supported by a University of California San Francisco Osher Center for Integrative Medicine Pilot Award from the Mt Zion Health Fund. Dr Huang is also supported by a Paul Beeson Career Development Award (1K23AG038335) from the National Institute on Aging and the American Federation for Aging Research. Ms Jenny is also supported by a Medical Student Training in Aging Research grant from the American Federation for Aging Research. Dr Subak is also supported by grant #5K24DK080775 from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disorders.

Conflicts of interest: Dr Huang has previously received funding to conduct research related to urinary incontinence from Pfizer, Inc through contracts awarded through the University of California San Francisco. None of the authors report any other potential conflicts of interest.

This article was accepted for oral presentation at the 2013 American Urogynecologic Society Annual Scientific Meeting.

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