Yoga, Breathing Exercises, and Meditation Improve Urinary Incontinence Symptoms, Wellbeing

An adjunctive, smartphone-delivered mind-body regimen consisting of yoga, breathing exercise, and meditation improved frequency and severity of urinary leak as well as daily life activity and stress associated with urinary incontinence, according to a study presented at the 2021 American Urological Association Annual Meeting.

Yoga, meditation, breathing exercises, and sound therapy are often practiced to support emotional and mental wellbeing. In recent years, researchers have been investigating the effects of these interventions on various aspects of physical health, in addition to outcomes associated with certain conditions. To date, few studies have identified whether mind-body exercises have a beneficial impact on patients with urinary incontinence.

The study included 258 patients with urinary incontinence who participated in an app-based mind-body intervention termed “Yoga of Immortals” that consisted of yoga, sound therapy, breathing exercises, and meditation. Patients completed several questionnaires at baseline, 4 weeks, and 8 weeks to assess changes in the different dimensions of health as it relates to urinary incontinence.

The questionnaires used in the study included the International Consultation on Incontinence Modular Questionnaire (ICIQ)-LUTS-Quality of Life (QoL), which assessed the impact urinary incontinence has on quality of life, as well as the International Consultation on Incontinence Questionnaire-Urinary Incontinence Short Form (ICIQ-UI SF), which assessed the mean symptom score and severity of urinary incontinence. The Patient Global Impression of Improvement (PGI-I) was also used to assess patient-perceived improvement in urinary incontinence.

Overall, participants had significant reductions in their mean scores on the ICIQ-LUTS-QOL as well as the ICIQ-UI SF, suggesting the mind-body intervention improved urinary incontinence symptoms and QoL. In addition, patients reported marked improvements in the frequency of urinary leak, urinary leak severity, as well as the interference in daily life activity following the intervention.

There was also significant improvement in stress associated with urinary incontinence, further implicating the intervention in the reported QoL improvements. Approximately 60% of patients said they felt “very much better” at 4 weeks after the intervention, according to the PGI-I scale, while 16% said they were “much better” and 12% said they felt “a little better” at 4 weeks.

Based on these findings, the researchers suggest the app-based yoga, sound therapy, and meditation regimen could serve as an adjunctive therapeutic option in patients with urinary incontinence who are inclined to engage in these types of practices. Given the program is delivered by a smartphone app, the researchers suggest it has an added advantage over other in-person programs in the ability to access the practices at any time.