Urinate Completely To Avoid Urinary Tract Infections
Women are especially prone to urinary tract infections, which can also involve the bladder. One way to reduce your risk is to make sure that you urinate completely, says Gopal Badlani, MD, of the Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and a specialist in bladder issues. If you tighten your muscles to stop urinating too soon, the urine that didn’t quite escape will head back to your bladder, which can bring bacteria into your system.
Make Regular And Controlled Visits
Double void is another approach to dealing with OAB. This technique involves relieving yourself and then, a few minutes later, going again. This deliberate approach to bathroom visits helps you to make sure that after passing urine a second time, your bladder is mostly or completely empty. The main benefit of this approach is that you can avoid having to return to the bathroom just a few minutes after your initial visit, which is both a nuisance and sometimes embarassing.
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Supplements For Adequate Nutrition
Developing a diet free of irritants can take some trial and error. During this time, its important to get the recommended amount of daily nutrients.
Be sure to talk with your doctor about your individual nutritional needs. They can help determine the appropriate supplements for you.
You may find it beneficial to supplement your diet with a daily multivitamin or nutrition drinks. Popular nutrition drinks include shakes, such as Boost or Ensure, and formulas, such as ProNourish.
Check in with your doctor before adding a supplement or nutrition drink to your regimen. Certain ingredients may interfere with your medications or otherwise negatively impact your overall health.
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Symptoms Of Male Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence is a symptom of other conditions. Any loss of bladder control can be considered incontinence.
With stress incontinence, leakage may happen when there is extra pressure on your bladder. This can happen when you laugh, sneeze, lift heavy objects or exercise.
With urge incontinence, you may have a loss of bladder control following a strong urge to urinate. You may not be able to hold urine long enough to make it to a toilet.
Figure Out Where Your Bladder Control Issues Are Coming From
There are lots of different reasons why people experience bladder control concerns, Suzette E. Sutherland, MD, associate professor of urology at the University of Washington School of Medicine and director of the UW Medicine Pelvic Health Center, tells SELF.
The two most common types of urinary incontinence include:
- Stress incontinence: This means the stress from a pressure or forcelike coughing, straining, laughing, or lifting something heavy, for examplecauses you to leak urine.
- Overactive bladder: Urinary frequency, urinary incontinence, and nocturia all fall under this category. Numerous factorsfrom underlying health conditions to lifestyle habits can lead to an overactive bladder.
If you experience both, then its considered mixed incontinence.
A urologist or a urogynecologist can help you figure out what type of incontinence may be at play, and the possible causes contributing to your leakage. Some are related to medical issues that can be fixed relatively quickly others may be trickier to pinpoint and require treatment.
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How Common Are Bladder Control Issues
Bladder control issues are twice as common in women and people AFAB because pregnancy, childbirth and menopause can affect your pelvic muscle strength.
As your body changes throughout pregnancy to accommodate a growing baby, pressure may build on your bladder. This bladder pressure is normal for many during pregnancy.
Bladder control issues affect approximately 30% of women and people AFAB over 50 and approximately 15% of men and people assigned male at birth over 50.
Causes Of Urge Incontinence
The urgent and frequent need to pass urine can be caused by a problem with the detrusor muscle in the wall of the bladder. The detrusor muscles relax to allow the bladder to fill with urine, then contract when you go to the toilet to let the urine out.
Sometimes the detrusor muscle contract too often, creating an urgent need to go to the toilet. This is known as having an ‘overactive bladder’. The reason your detrusor muscle contracts too often may not be clear, but possible causes include:
- drinking too much alcohol or caffeine
- poor fluid intake this can cause strong, concentrated urine to collect in your bladder, which can irritate your bladder and cause symptoms of overactivity
Stopping these medications, if advised to do so by a doctor, may help resolve your incontinence.
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Types Of Bladder Control Problems
Anyone can have bladder control problems or incontinence. Incontinence caused by cancer or cancer treatment can last a short time or a long time, and it can be mild or severe. There are different types of bladder control problems.
Stress incontinence. Urine leaks out during activities such as coughing, laughing, sneezing, or exercising.
Overflow incontinence. Urine leaks out when your bladder is full.
Urge incontinence. You feel the urge to go to the bathroom right away and urine leaks before you can get to the bathroom.
Continuous incontinence. Urine leaks out constantly, and you cannot control it.
These bladder problems can make you feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. Sometimes, people avoid activities they enjoy because of bladder problems. That can affect your quality of life. These are reasons why it is important to tell your health care provider about your experiences. They can help you treat incontinence. The treatment of side effects is an important part of your cancer care and treatment, called palliative care or supportive care. Talk with your health care team about how to treat or manage incontinence.
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How To Strengthen The Bladder
Approximately 17% of women over the age of 18 suffer from overactive bladder . This number increases with age and 20% of women over the age of 40 suffer from OAB. Also, 29% of women between the ages of 60 and 70 experience leakage of urine while coughing, sneezing, or laughing. You should know you are not alone. Your healthcare provider can recommend tips for how to strengthen the bladder and we have some tips for you too.
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How Soon After Starting Kegel Exercises Will Urinary Incontinence Get Better
It may take 4 to 6 weeks before you notice any improvement in your symptoms.10
Kegel exercises work differently for each person. Your symptoms may go away totally, you may notice an improvement in your symptoms but still have some leakage, or you may not see any improvement at all. But even if your symptoms dont get better, Kegel exercises can help prevent your incontinence from getting worse.
You may need to continue doing Kegel exercises for the rest of your life. Even if your symptoms improve, urinary incontinence can come back if you stop doing the exercises.
Get Comfy With Kegel Exercises
Your pelvic floor is a set of muscles and connective tissues that hold your pelvic organs, including your bladder, bowels, and uterus, in place, per the US National Library of Medicine. Just like any other muscle, your pelvic floor needs to be strong enough to do its various jobs properly, otherwise, weakness in the area can lead to urinary incontinence.
Kegel exercises, in which you contract and release these muscles, can help you strengthen your pelvic floor and ultimately prevent leakage. Regularly practicing these exercises can also help you more fully empty your bladder each time you go.
According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, heres one common way Kegel exercises are done:
- Hold the squeeze for at least three seconds, then relax the muscles for at least three seconds. Your goal is to increase your contractions by 1 second until you can hold the squeeze for 10 seconds.
Dr. Sutherland recommends performing 10 repetitions three times a day and choosing times when you can consistently do them, such as your morning and evening commutes or during your workout. Breathe normally and relax your body as you do your Kegels. If youre squeezing your stomach, thigh, or buttock muscles, you arent focusing on the right muscles.
You can expect to start feeling results in about four to six weeks of consistently practicing Kegels, but it may take several months before they truly start to help reduce incontinence episodes.
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Posterior Tibial Nerve Stimulation
Your posterior tibial nerve runs down your leg to your ankle. It contains nerve fibres that start from the same place as nerves that run to your bladder and pelvic floor. It is thought that stimulating the tibial nerve will affect these other nerves and help control bladder symptoms, such as the urge to pass urine.
During the procedure, a very thin needle is inserted through the skin of your ankle and a mild electric current is sent through it, causing a tingling feeling and causing your foot to move. You may need 12 sessions of stimulation, each lasting around half an hour, one week apart.
Some studies have shown that this treatment can offer relief from OAB and urge incontinence for some people, although there is not yet enough evidence to recommend tibial nerve stimulation as a routine treatment.
Tibial nerve stimulation is only recommended in a few cases where urge incontinence has not improved with medication and you don’t want to have botulinum toxin A injections or sacral nerve stimulation.
Reach Out To A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist If You Can
If youve tried Kegels on your own and youre not sure that you are doing the exercises correctly, arent seeing improvements in your bladder control, or simply would like more guidance, a pelvic floor physical therapist can help. Remember: They specialize in this, so theyre not there to judge you or make you feel awkward about it.
A trained physical therapist can evaluate your pelvic floor muscles and help create a personalized plan that will benefit your unique concerns, Miranda Harvey, PT, DPT, director of education at the Academy of Pelvic Health Physical Therapy, tells SELF.
A pelvic floor physical therapist can teach you how to do Kegels properly, and also show you other pelvic floor exercises that target the muscles appropriately. For example, leg lifts, squats, and even planks also strengthen the pelvic floor, research shows.1
A balanced exercise program will train the muscles for both endurance and speed/agility, so that they can kick in faster if the job or the sneeze calls for it, Harvey says. Ultimately, the goal is to train the muscles to contract and relax as you intend them to, which enhances your overall bladder control whether you have stress or urge incontinence.
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Do Daily Pelvic Floor Exercises
The pelvic floor muscles are responsible for supporting the bladder, and they help control the flow of urine through the urethra. When they become weakened or damaged, it can cause stress incontinence.
Performing pelvic floor exercises including Kegels, squats, and the bridge can help strengthen the muscles around and within the bladder to prevent urinary incontinence.
According to the results of two clinical trials , women who participate in pelvic floor muscle training are twice as likely to see an improvement in their urinary incontinence than those receiving symptomatic care alone. They are also five times more likely to have their symptoms completely resolve.
Those who have had recent surgery, have given birth recently, or have other health concerns should talk with a doctor before beginning any exercise regimen.
What Are The Different Types Of Bladder Control Issues
There are different types of bladder control issues, including:
- Stress incontinence. Sudden stress on your bladder causes stress incontinence. Common causes include coughing, sneezing, laughing, lifting and physical activity. Younger and middle-aged women and people assigned female at birth near or experiencing menopause are most likely to have stress incontinence.
- Urge incontinence. Urge incontinence occurs when you have an urge to pee but cant make it to the bathroom in time. Urge incontinence commonly affects people with diabetes, stroke, multiple sclerosis, Alzheimers disease and Parkinson disease.
- Overflow incontinence. Overflow incontinence occurs when your bladder is full, and you cant empty it completely. As a result, pee may constantly dribble because you have a full bladder but you cant sense the need to use the bathroom. An enlarged prostate that blocks your urethra or a spinal cord injury may prevent you from being able to empty your bladder when you pee.
- Functional incontinence. Conditions that prevent you from reaching the bathroom in time cause functional incontinence. Arthritis, injuries, neurological conditions, dementia and medications that cause grogginess may prevent you from moving quickly enough to the bathroom or communicating to others that you have to go to the bathroom.
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Avoid Lifting Heavy Objects
Lifting heavy objects puts strain not only on the back and knees but also on the pelvic floor muscles. Without proper support from pelvic muscles, stress incontinence and OAB with or without urge incontinence can occur.
For this reason, people should avoid lifting heavy objects if they can. If they do need to lift something, they should practice their pelvic floor exercises before and during the lift to help support the muscles in and around their bladder.
How Are Bladder Control Issues Diagnosed
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms. Questions may include:
- Approximately how much do you accidentally pee?
- How much pee makes it in the toilet versus on your clothes?
- Do you have bladder control issues during certain times of the day?
- Do specific movements or actions cause bladder control issues, like sneezing or exercising?
- Do you have any pain or discomfort when you pee?
- Does the urge to pee come on suddenly?
- How often do you pee during the day?
- When you go to the bathroom, is it difficult to start peeing?
- How strong is your pee stream?
- Does your bladder feel completely empty after peeing?
They may also ask you about conditions or medications that may cause bladder control issues. Questions may include:
- Do you have a neurological condition, kidney or ureter stones or a prostate condition?
- Are you currently taking any medications?
- What medications are you taking?
- Are you taking any herbal or vitamin supplements?
- Have you ever been pregnant and had a vaginal delivery?
- Have you ever had surgery on your abdomen or around your pelvis?
- Have you ever had prostate surgery?
Your healthcare provider will also perform a physical exam. Theyll check for spinal cord damage symptoms, including weakness and a lack of sensation in your legs and genital area.
Your healthcare provider may recommend a rectal exam to check for constipation that may cause bladder control issues. In men and people AMAB, your healthcare provider may also check your prostate.
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Find Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Overactive bladder is one common cause of bladder control problems, especially among women. Doing regular Kegel exercises can help treat this condition. These exercises also called pelvic floor muscle exercises.
Kegel exercises are relatively easy to do. But before you can start, you need to find your pelvic floor muscles. The next time you urinate, try to stop your flow of urine midstream. The muscles you use to do that are your pelvic floor muscles.
Promoting General Bladder Health
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Eating To Reduce Constipation
Sometimes constipation can place extra pressure on your bladder. You can prevent constipation by exercising regularly and including more fiber in your diet. Foods high in fiber include beans, whole-wheat breads, fruits, and vegetables.
The Cleveland Clinic recommends eating 2 tablespoons of a mixture of 1 cup of applesauce, 1 cup unprocessed wheat bran, and 3/4 cup of prune juice every morning to promote bowel regularity.
Walk Regularly To Avoid Retaining Fluids
Some people, like those who are sedentary or have heart disease, may develop fluid buildup in their legs during the day. At night, this fluid causes them to need to empty their bladders frequently. If you have fluid retention in your legs that’s causing an active bladder overnight, try walking around more throughout the day. If you can’t walk, flex your calf muscles and raise your legs to waist level.
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