Millions of men and women experience loss of bladder control that ranges from a few drops to significant leakage. Being overweight, smoking, and having type 2 diabetes increases the chances that you’ll develop urinary incontinence (UI) -- and while it affects adults of all ages, it’s more common in women and your risk increases with age. Find out what you can do to prevent urinary incontinence and get back to a leak-free life.
Why it happens
Your pelvic floor muscles support your bladder and help control the release of urine. Leaks happen when these muscles become weak or damaged. It can also happen when there’s pressure on these muscles, such as during pregnancy. It’s unknown why some adults develop UI, while others don’t. However, recognizing the risk factors and taking action can help decrease your risk.
Maintain a healthy weight
Excess weight in the abdominal area puts pressure on your pelvic muscles and increases the risk urinary incontinence. Trimming down relieves that pressure and improves the ability of your pelvic muscles to control the passage of urine. If you’re overweight and having issues with UI, putting together a weight loss plan may help.
Do pelvic floor exercises
Performing exercises to strengthen your pelvic muscles can help keep leaks at bay. Men and women can benefit from Kegel exercises, which are an excellent way to reign in bladder problems. Those pelvic floor muscles wrap around the underside of your bladder, urethra, uterus and anus.
You can perform the exercises anywhere, and just a few minutes a day is enough to improve bladder control. The exercises are performed by squeezing and releasing the pelvic muscles, which gives them a workout that makes them stronger.
Pelvic floor exercises can be helpful but many women may need additional help. Pelvic floor physical therapy is like seeing a trainer and can provide focused education and instruction on proper technique of doing pelvic floor exercises. They can also measure your progress. Most recently, a revolutionary new technology called the Emsella chair has been introduced to allow patients to undergo pelvic floor strengthening by simply sitting in a chair for 30 minutes in the office without any risk and need for undressing. A typical regiment consists of two treatments for three weeks.
Avoid certain foods
You’re more likely to experience an episode of UI after eating certain foods, like chili peppers, chocolate, and citrus fruits. These foods contain substances that stimulate and irritate your bladder, increasing the likelihood of leaks. Caffeine and alcohol also increase your chances of losing bladder control. Steer clear of these foods if you have bladder issues.
Cut out cigarettes
If you’re having bladder problems, or are at risk for leaks, it helps to change lifestyle choices that may contribute to urinary issues, such as smoking. Not only do chemicals in cigarettes have a negative impact on your bladder, but the chronic coughing so common among smokers puts extra pressure on your bladder, causing leaks to sprout.
Practice bladder training
Briefly delaying urination helps train your bladder to have more control. This involves waiting a brief period before urinating when you have the urge. Adults who experience UI often have a strong urge to urinate and typically do so right away when the urge hits. The goal with bladder training is to control the urge to go. The results are often gradual, so have patience.
Urinary incontinence is often a frustrating condition that can impact your quality of life. However, the most advanced and effective treatments are available from Dr. Kohli here at Boston Urogyn. Don’t let your bladder control your life and keep you from activities you love. Sign up to try the new Emsella Chair for free! Give us a call to schedule an appointment or use the online booking tool here on the website.