Living With Bowel Or Bladder Incontinence
There is no single, right way to cope with bladder or bowel incontinence. The challenge is to find what is best for your situation, so you can get the help you need and return to a normal daily life. Talk with your health care team if you notice a change in bowel or bladder habits, and about the best ways to manage incontinence, if it is a problem. You might find it helpful to talk with other people who are dealing with incontinence, too. Ask a member of your cancer care team about support groups in your area.
Here are some things you can do that may help make incontinence less of a problem:
- Empty your bladder every 3 to 4 hours while awake, to avoid accidents.
- Empty your bladder before bedtime or before strenuous activity.
- Limit drinks with caffeine, or and avoid alcohol and citrus juices, which can irritate the bladder and make you have to go more often.
- Avoid hygiene products that may irritate you Women should avoid feminine spray or over-the-counter vaginal suppositories.
- Because belly fat can push on the bladder, avoiding weight gain or losing needed weight sometimes helps improve bladder control.
- Avoid tobacco use which can cause coughing and bladder irritation due to harmful substances in tobacco products.
- Talk to your doctor about all medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements youre taking. Some may affect urine control.
Alternative And Complementary Therapies
The treatment of urinary incontinence varies depending on the cause of the bladder control problem. In most cases, a physician will try the simplest treatment approach before resorting to medication or surgery.
Bladder habit training This is the first approach for treating most incontinence issues. The goal is to establish a regular urination schedule with set intervals between urination. A doctor will usually recommend urinating at one-hour intervals and gradually increasing the intervals between urination over time.
Pelvic muscle exercises Also called Kegel exercises , this exercise routine helps strengthen weak pelvic muscles and improve bladder control.
The person contracts the muscles used to keep in urine, holds the contraction for 4 to 10 seconds, then relaxes the muscles for the same amount of time.
It may take weeks or months of regular pelvic exercise to show improvement.
Another way to perform Kegel exercises is to interrupt the flow of urine for several seconds while urinating.
Lower Urinary Tract Symptoms
The lower urinary tract includes the bladder and the tube that urine passes through as it leaves the body .
Lower urinary tract symptoms are common as people get older.
They can include:
- problems with storing urine, such as an urgent or frequent need to pass urine or feeling like you need to go again straight after you’ve just been
- problems with passing urine, such as a slow stream of urine, straining to pass urine, or stopping and starting as you pass urine
- problems after you’ve passed urine, such as feeling that you’ve not completely emptied your bladder or passing a few drops of urine after you think you’ve finished
Experiencing LUTS can make urinary incontinence more likely.
Page last reviewed: 07 November 2019 Next review due: 07 November 2022
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Living With Urinary Incontinence
Urinary incontinence does, unfortunately, become a long-term problem for some women. Here are some tips on living with it:
- Use incontinence pads, which are made for urine leakage, rather than sanitary pads.
- Take a change of underwear or set of clothes when you go out.
- Know where toilets are located so you can find them quickly .
- Cross your legs when sneezing or laughing.
- Modify your exercise routine to avoid high impact exercises such as jumping.
How Urinary Incontinence Is Treated
Initially, your GP may suggest some simple measures to see if they help improve your symptoms. These may include:
- lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and cutting down on caffeine and alcohol
- pelvic floor exercises taught by a specialist
- bladder training guided by a specialist
You may also benefit from the use of incontinence products, such as absorbent pads and hand-held urinals .
If you are still unable to manage your symptoms, medication may be recommended.
Surgery may also be considered. The specific procedures suitable for you will depend on the type of incontinence you have.
Surgical treatments for stress incontinence, such as tape or sling procedures, are used to reduce pressure on the bladder, or strengthen the muscles that control urination.
Operations to treat urge incontinence include enlarging the bladder or implanting a device that stimulates the nerve that controls the detrusor muscles.
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How To Overcome Bladder Weakness
If you want to go about your day worry-free, there are pelvic floor muscle exercises and yoga poses that can help you treat bladder weakness. Studies have shown that these exercises can restore the strength of the weakened muscles in the pelvic floor and bladder, which may disrupt normal urinary function in adults.i To strengthen these muscles, you need to learn how to relax them.ii
In this article, we will show you to how to perform 5 beginner-friendly bladder weakness exercises, including some yoga poses.
Do Regular Kegel Exercises
Once you find your pelvic floor muscles, you can complete regular Kegel exercises to strengthen them. Simply contract your pelvic floor muscles, hold them for five to ten seconds, and relax them. The Urology Care Foundation suggests that you complete at least two sessions of Kegel exercises per day. Up to 30 contractions per session.
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Your Bladder Control Programme
There are many things you can do in your everyday life to improve your bladder control, and reduce light bladder leakage, most of them are quick and easy and can be integrated into your day with no problems. Follow a schedule for going to the toilet as directed by your doctor. The overall aim is to gradually increase the time between visits by holding out a little longer each time.
- Reduce or cut out caffeine , very sweet drinks and alcohol
- Avoid constipation by eating plenty of fibre from fruit, vegies and whole grains. Dont use laxatives!
- Drink the recommended amount of water per day
- Maintain a healthy weight
- Do pelvic floor exercises. A strong and fit pelvic floor boosts your chances of beating incontinence
Getting control begins with you keeping a bladder diary to get baseline information about your bladder function and habits. When youve kept your diary for a week, take it to your doctor or physiotherapist to discuss your bladder training program.
Some tricks and tips for hanging on
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.
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When Should I See My Doctor
Most women who leak urine after childbirth find that it goes away in the first few weeks, as the stretched muscles and tissues recover.
However, for some women it can take months while other women find their pelvic floor never recovers fully.
If you are still experiencing leakage after 6 months, talk to your midwife or doctor. Dealing with it early on can reduce the risk of it becoming a life-long problem.
Stress incontinence is common, but many women are too embarrassed to talk about it. However, doctors, midwives, maternal and child health nurses and continence nurses are used to talking about it. If you are experiencing leakage, they will have suggestions that can help.
How To Selectthe Bladder Control Devices
If you want to purchase electronics like bladder control devices, market place is the undefeated champion.
Nonetheless, choosing the bladder control devices might prove to be a hassle for a newbie. Even for early users, it can pose a challenge to select the best product.
Below are some factors to take into account when selecting the bladder control devices on market place:
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According to the Urology Care Foundation, women are at greater risk for UI than men because they have a shorter urethra than men. As a result, any weakness or damage to the urethra in a woman is more likely to cause urinary incontinence. This is because there is less muscle keeping the urine in your bladder until you are ready to urinate.
How Can Nerve Stimulation Help Overactive Bladder
There are several treatments that involve stimulating your nerves to help improve overactive bladder. Your nerves help communicate the message that your bladder needs to be emptied to your brain. By treating the nerves, your healthcare provider can improve your bladder control. Nerve stimulation is a reversible treatment that is considered when conservative treatments have not worked or have not been tolerated. Conservative treatments include behavioral therapies and medications.
There are several types of nerve stimulation treatments. These can include:
Surgery And Procedures For Urinary Incontinence
If other treatments for urinary incontinence are unsuccessful or unsuitable, surgery or other procedures may be recommended.
Before making a decision, discuss the risks and benefits with a specialist, as well as any possible alternative treatments.
If you are a woman and plan to have children, this will affect your decision, because the physical strain of pregnancy and childbirth can sometimes cause surgical treatments to fail. Therefore, you may wish to wait until you no longer want to have any more children before having surgery.
The various surgical treatments for urinary incontinence are outlined below.
Related Conditions And Causes Of Urinary Incontinence
Fecal incontinence is light to moderate bowel leakage due to diarrhea, constipation, or muscle or nerve damage.
As described in the section above on causes of urinary incontinence, common conditions may contribute to chronic urinary incontinence, including: urinary tract infection , constipation, interstitial cystitis or other bladder conditions, nerve damage that affects bladder control, side effects from a prior surgery, and neurological disorders.
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Bladder Control Problems And The Prostate
The prostate is a gland found only in men. It is about the size of a walnut and is located below the neck of the bladder, surrounding the bladder outlet or urethra. Because the prostate gland is located close to the outlet of the bladder, it is common for problems with the male prostate gland to also affect urinary processes.Urinary problems which start in middle age are often caused by the prostate gland getting larger as a man ages and partially blocking the flow of urine through the urethra as it leaves the bladder. This causes a condition called benign prostatic hyperplasia . Other causes of prostate-related urinary conditions include prostatitis or prostate cancer.
Read more about common prostate conditions
Regain Control: Therapies And Lifestyle Habits For Bladder Control
Although OAB can be a frustrating issue, thankfully there are ways to help manage and even reverse an overactive bladder.
Healthy Diet for Bladder Control
A healthy diet can limit urgency triggers as well as support a healthy bladder. Avoid foods and drinks that contain alcohol, coffee, soda, artificial sugars, spicy foods, tomato-based foods, citrus fruits. These are known to either increase urgency or irritate the bladder.
Best Foods for an Overactive Bladder
- Bananas, apples, grapes, watermelon, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, coconut
- Asparagus, broccoli, cucumbers, kale, carrots, celery, lettuce, peppers, artichoke
- Lentils, beans, barley, bran, oats, almonds
- Fish, chicken, fermented soy , eggs
Exercise for Bladder Control
Exercise is crucial to keep a healthy weight but can be a triggering factor in OAB. Many exercises put pressure on the bladder and increase urgency. Instead, opt for exercises that are gentle on the bladder, like hand weights, weight machines, walking, swimming, and bicycling. Always be sure to empty your bladder before exercising.
Kegel exercises are one of the best self-care exercises for improving bladder stability and reducing OAB symptoms. Practice Kegels at least three times per day to keep your pelvic floor strong.
Acupuncture for Bladder Control
PEMF Therapy for Bladder Control
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How Is Urinary Incontinence Treated
You and your doctor or nurse will work together to create a treatment plan. You may start with steps you can take at home. If these steps do not improve your symptoms, your doctor or nurse may recommend other treatments depending on whether you have stress incontinence or urge incontinence or both.
Be patient as you work with your doctor or nurse on a treatment plan. It may take a month or longer for different treatments to begin working.
Make Changes In Your Lifestyle
Fixing frequent urination issues could be as easy as making simple changes in your habits and diet.
There are certain foods that can make you feel the urge to urinate even more frequently. These foods and drinks include:
- Sodas/Carbonated Drinks
Avoiding or limiting these foods and drinks may relieve some of your symptoms.
You may also want to consider what you wear. Wearing tight, high waisted jeans or pants will put more pressure on your bladder and make you feel the need to pee more often.
Instead, wear something thats light and comfortable, like a dress or a skirt.
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How Bladder Training Can Help
After going through bladder training, you should be able to:
- Go longer periods of time between bathroom visits
- Hold more liquid in your bladder
- Have more control over the urge to go
Although you probably want to see results right away, be patient. Bladder retraining can take six to 12 weeks to be successful.
If you’ve been trying bladder training for several weeks and it still isn’t working, check back in with your doctor. You might need to try other approaches, like medication or surgery.
Who Is Most At Risk
In addition to the causes mentioned above, there are some things that can increase your risk of developing urinary incontinence without directly being the cause of the problem. These are known as risk factors.
Some of the main risk factors for urinary incontinence include:
- family history there may be a genetic link to urinary incontinence, so you may be more at risk if other people in your family have experienced the problem
- increasing age urinary incontinence becomes more common as you reach middle age and is particularly common in people over 80
- having lower urinary tract symptoms a range of symptoms that affect the bladder and urethra
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What Steps Can I Take At Home To Treat Urinary Incontinence
Your doctor or nurse may suggest some things you can do at home to help treat urinary incontinence. Some people do not think that such simple actions can treat urinary incontinence. But for many women, these steps make urinary incontinence go away entirely, or help leak less urine. These steps may include:
You can also buy pads or protective underwear while you take other steps to treat urinary incontinence. These are sold in many stores that also sell feminine hygiene products like tampons and pads.
Bladder Control Exercises For Women
Urinary incontinence is a challenge for over a third of older adults, so if you live with UI, you are not alone. Knowledge about UI is increasing, but despite how common it is, there is still a damaging stigma around this challenge.
If you live with UI, it can also become a challenge to feel in control of your own life. However, there are exercises and tips to help you regain this control and get back to doing the things you love! This guide will help you understand your pelvic floor muscles and how bladder exercises can help you regain strength in these muscles andcontrol your bladder.
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Managing Bladder Or Urinary Incontinence
Sometimes urinary incontinence can last a short time, depending on what’s causing it. But sometimes incontinence can be long-term and uncomfortable, making some everyday activities difficult to manage.
Your health care team will ask you questions to determine the type of bladder incontinence you might have. Then, you might need tests to verify the type and learn the cause of it which will help them know the best way to manage it.
- Pelvic floor muscle strengthening may be recommended. A physical therapist that specializes in pelvic floor muscle exercises can help. This might help muscle strength and bladder control get better by doing exercises that tighten and relax muscles that control the flow of urine.
- Bladder training canhelp manage how often you need to urinate throughout the day, by assigning certain time intervals to empty your bladder.
What Causes Bladder Leaks
There are two main types of urinary incontinence:
If you have this type, activities that raise the pressure inside your abdomen cause urine to leak through the ring of muscle in your bladder that normally holds it in. Coughing, sneezing, jumping and lifting heavy objects could lead to a leak.
Going through childbirth, smoking or being overweight can raise the risk of stress incontinence for women, Wright says. Stress incontinence in men is rare, and when it arises, its often due to prostate cancer treatment, such as radiation or surgery.
With this type, your brain, spinal cord and bladder dont work together properly to allow you to hold and release urine at the right time. Your bladder may suddenly empty itself without warning. Or you may feel like you need to urinate frequently, a problem called overactive bladder.
Some diseases that affect the nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis or stroke, can cause this kind of incontinence, says Wright. In men, an enlarged prostate may be the culprit. But in many cases, doctors dont know what causes urge incontinence.
It is possible to have both types of incontinence at the same time.
TRY IT: Keep Records
Your doctor will want to know as much as possible about your bladder leakswhen they occur, how much urine comes out, and what youre doing when leaks happen. Consider keeping a diary of when you urinate and when you have leaks, recommends Wright.
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