Urinary Incontinence, also known as bladder leakage, can certainly be annoying. Although the condition can also affect men, women are more likely to suffer from it at some point in their lives. But, it should not prevent anyone from performing their daily activities.
Urinary incontinence is a symptom, not a disease. But the consequences of involuntary leakage of urine can greatly impact a person’s social life and self-esteem.
Millions of women are affected by urinary incontinence. The good news is that the condition can often be controlled with simple lifestyle changes and medications. Here, we have listed six healthy tips for women to manage urinary incontinence.
What is Urinary Incontinence?
An unintentional passing of urine due to loss of bladder control is known as urinary incontinence. Here are the different types:
1. Stress incontinence happens during sneezing, coughing, laughing, or exercising. These activities create an abdominal pressure that weakens the urinary tract and the pelvic floor muscle and causes bladder leakage. It is often age-related or related to pregnancy or childbirth that causes loosening of urinary tract tissues. It can also result from trauma or surgery.
2. Urge incontinence (overactive bladder) is triggered by inappropriate contraction of the bladder or other urinary muscles. The condition can cause a strong bladder contraction, resulting in leakage of urine. Many women feel an increased frequency to urinate during the day and night.
3. Mixed incontinence refers to a condition that has characteristics of both urge and stress incontinence.
Whether your incontinence results from age, pregnancy, surgery or other medical condition, you may choose to wear an adult brief at night or while traveling for long hours to help you feel secure.
Six Healthy Tips for Women to Manage Urinary Incontinence
Drink plenty of water
You may be surprised by this tip, but a reduced fluid intake can have the opposite effect. Your urine tends to become more concentrated and more irritating to the bladder when you drink less water. This will produce a stronger reflex to empty the bladder causing bladder sensitivity. Such a condition can make both stress and urge incontinence types worse. So, make sure to drink plenty of water to avoid bladder sensitivity. If you’re dealing with any medical conditions that require limited fluid intake, consult your doctor.
Keep a bladder diary
Keeping a bladder diary for a few weeks can help you identify the possible triggers for urinary retention and incontinence. Your bladder diary can include the time of fluid intake, amount of intake, urine output for the day, and how many times you have leaked. These records can also help you recognize the type of activity that caused the leakage and how many times you felt the urge. Whenever you feel the need to consult your doctor, remember to take this diary with you. It will help your doctor understand: whether your incontinence is stress, urged based, or mixed, how imbalanced your fluid intake is, and the bladder sensitivity when it’s filled.
Reduce “brown” drinks
Urology experts advise women with urinary incontinence to reduce brown drinks like caffeine, alcohol, cola, and tea. Caffeine is a well-known diuretic that irritates the bladder and stimulates muscle contractions. It aggravates the symptoms of urge incontinence. Other brown drinks are also bladder irritants. Moreover, a combination of such drinks can increase the effect of urge, stress, and mixed incontinence. Try your best to avoid or cut down on these drinks to reduce the chance of leaks. You may replace them with water or herbal teas.
Perform pelvic floor exercises
Not many people know that strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can be a great way to improve urinary incontinence. Pelvic floor exercises like Kegel can help. This exercise involves the correction of the pelvic muscles. Try to stop the flow when you’re urinating and then restart it. The exercise won’t build pelvic muscles but help you make the muscles stronger. Practice this exercise over several weeks.
Obstruction of stool, i.e., constipation, is a common cause of urinary incontinence. It leaves less room for the bladder to hold urine and increases the urge to go to the toilet. Constipation can occur due to a lack of fluid intake. It may also be due to low fiber intake, lack of exercise, any health conditions, bodily changes post-childbirth. So make sure to drink at least 1.5-2 liters of water per day (6-8 glasses) and increase the fiber intake. Never delay the urge to empty your bowels.
At times, managing urinary incontinence can be stressful and worrisome. But getting worried or anxious about the condition will only worsen the problem. It can make the nerve endings in your bladder more sensitive to stimulation and increase the urge for urination. Staying calm during such conditions will help you settle the urge effectively. Rather than rushing to the toilet, take a few deep breaths, calm yourself, and then walk to the toilet without a leak.
A vast majority of people have managed to improve their condition by following such healthy tips. However, if you experience symptoms like painful urination, painful intercourse, or cloudy or blood-tinged urine, have a conversation with your healthcare provider right away.