Originally published on: April 6th, 2017. Last modified on July 15th, 2021

What is Biofeedback?

Biofeedback is a technique which is designed to help strengthen your urethral and anal sphincter muscles and pelvic floor muscles and help you to gain control over your bladder.

Biofeedback can help you learn which muscles to use, when to use them and how hard to contract them to prevent leakage.

How does biofeedback work?

There are several types of biofeedback but one is where a probe is inserted into the vagina (for women) or back passage (for men). The pressure exerted onto the probe when you squeeze your muscles, as if you were trying to avoid passing water, will be displayed on a computer screen.

Your physiotherapist or specialist nurse will instruct you how and when you have to squeeze your muscles to provide effective control over your bladder. You will practice using the screen as a guide first and then the screen will be hidden from view so that you have to rely on yourself.

Over time, you should gain more co-ordination and control over your sphincter and pelvic floor muscles. The strength of these muscles will also be improved as you are exercising them during your biofeedback programme.

Another form of biofeedback is the use of real-time ultrasound scanning.  A probe is placed on your perineum and a picture of your pelvic organs is seen on a screen.

As you squeeze your pelvic floor muscles you are able to see what happens around your bladder and bowel.  Your physiotherapist or specialist nurse will be able to correct how you squeeze your muscles once they have seen them working on the screen. Unfortunately this type of biofeedback is only available in specialist centres at the moment.