Tighten Your Pelvic Floor With Kegel Exercises
Kegels, or pelvic floor muscle exercises, can benefit both men and women who have urinary incontinence by strengthening the muscles that support the bladder. This, in turn, helps prevent urine leaks and the feeling of urgency that comes with overactive bladder. And Kegels couldnt be easier to do: Per the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, simply squeeze or tighten your pelvic floor muscles these are the same muscles you use to stop the flow of urine or passing gas for a count of three and then slowly relax them for a count of three. Kegels are so easy, you can do them anytime even while sitting in your car at a stoplight or at your desk at work. Build up to doing one set of 10 to 15 squeezes, three times a day, and your bladder control should improve within six weeks.
How Do I Do Kegel Exercises
Kegel exercises are a simple way to build strength in your pelvic floor muscles. These exercises are done by lifting, holding and then relaxing your pelvic floor muscles. You can find these muscles by stopping the flow of urine mid-stream while youre urinating. Only do this until you learn how to find the muscles stopping the flow of urine mid-stream isnt healthy over a long period of time.
When youre doing Kegel exercises, start small. Only hold it for a few second. Over time you can slowly work your way up to longer and longer stretches of holding the muscles tight.
Unlike other types of workouts, no one can tell when youre doing Kegel exercises. Aim to do several sets of Kegel exercises twice a day.
If You Have A Leaky Bladder Issue
1 in 4 women over the age of 35 in the US have experienced incontinence. Is that an attention grabber or what?
Last week my friend and I were standing at the corner of 79th and First Avenue and she sneezed hard, and then she sneezed again.
Oh No! she sighed and smiled shyly at me.
What? I wonderedDid you pull a muscle?
No, I need to get another pair of underwear
Hmmmmm. Wow, that was some sneeze, I thought.
Does this happen a lot? I asked.
Yup, and Ive got to deal with itIm blaming it on those 3 kids of mine.
I laughed, but thought how lucky I am that I had only 2 kids, because I dont worry about sneezing.
Turns out the sneezes were the least of it.
It happens to her all the time and shes planning to see her Dr. about it. By the way she is only 52 years old.
Being, a writer, I get away with asking lots of questions about topics that are often off limits.
Upon further investigation, I learned that it turns out bladder leakage is a huge issue for women worldwide.
1 out of 3 women experiences stress urinary incontinence at some point in their lives, and around 40% of young women experience it when doing sports.
I thought it was an issue for 80 year olds but nope. So, I started surveying my people.
Heres a few questions I lined up about bladder leakage and was not only surprised by the response I got, but was amazed at how many women live with this issue.
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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.
Bladder Leaks In New Mothers
New mothers can experience bladder leaks. It is a common problem after childbirth. This is postpartum urinary incontinence.
Newborn mothers might have trouble controlling their bladders. The pressure on the bladder during pregnancy does take a toll on it. The pressure from delivery also takes a toll.
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Urinary Incontinence Comes In Many Forms And Affects Millions Of People But There Are Simple Things You Can Do To Manage It
I’m hearing it all the time: I can’t drink anything after lunch or I’m up all night peeing. I can’t cough or laugh without leaking. I never know when I’m going to have to goand sometimes it’s too late. I’m sure you have your own stories to share.
And it’s no wonder: Urinary incontinence the loss of bladder controlis estimated to affect more than 13 million adults. Although it’s common, it’s embarrassing. It ranges from the occasional leakage of urine to the sudden, strong and overwhelming need to urinate .
Learn more about How to Not Let Light Bladder Leakage Hold You Back.
If you’re wondering why so many more women than men suffer with this conditionin fact, twice as manyit’s because it does lean toward being gender-specific, linked to certain things like pregnancy, childbirth, menopause and simply the way our urinary tract is structured.
To Blame: The Pelvic Floor Muscles
They’re the group of muscles that wrap around the vagina, bladder and rectum and play a role in supporting them. These muscles help control the bladder and bowel and are the muscles that contract during an orgasm.
Like many conditions, UI worsens with age. That’s because the pelvic floor muscles, specifically the bladder muscles in this case, naturally weaken and may decrease the bladder’s ability to store urine. Another reason? Menopause and a natural decline in estrogen, which keeps the lining of the bladder and urethra healthy.
Self-care for Your Bladder
Causes Of Overflow Incontinence
Overflow incontinence, also called chronic urinary retention, is often caused by a blockage or obstruction to your bladder. Your bladder may fill up as usual, but as it is obstructed you will not be able to empty it completely, even when you try.
At the same time, pressure from the urine that is still in your bladder builds up behind the obstruction, causing frequent leaks.
Your bladder can become obstructed as a result of:
Overflow incontinence may also be caused by your detrusor muscle not fully contracting, which means that your bladder does not completely empty when you go to the toilet. As a result, the bladder becomes stretched. Your detrusor muscles may not fully contract if:
- there is damage to your nerves, for example as a result of surgery to part of your bowel or a spinal cord injury
- you are taking certain medications
Also Check: How Do You Get Rid Of Overactive Bladder
How To Treat A Leaky Bladder: A Guide For Women
It happens to the best of us an unexpected sneeze or giggle and suddenly you are made aware that you have a leaky bladder.
As difficult as these situations can be, theres nothing to be embarrassed about. According to one study, 45 percent of women between the ages of 20 and 80 experience some degree of urinary incontinence.
Luckily, there are steps you may take to regain control of your bladder, such as products to strengthen your pelvic floor or simple lifestyle changes.
Keep reading to learn more about this condition and tips on how to help deal with it.
What Is Urge Incontinence
Urge incontinence is slightly different, and means that you have a much more sudden urge to pee, and feel like youre not able to wait to use the toilet. If you find that youre leaking urine before getting to the toilet when you have the urgency, this is a symptom of urge incontinence.
If you regularly experience urge incontinence, youre likely to pee more often than normal. This is known as urinary frequency and can make you need to pee several times during the night as well as during the day. Some women may find that theyre leaking urine during sex too.
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Maintain A Healthy Weight
Evidence shows that people who are obese can decrease the amount of incontinence they experience through weight loss, Dr. Crisp says. It doesnt necessarily make it perfect but it decreases the amount of leakage that you have.
Any type of high-impact exercise, like running or jumping, could make you more susceptible to leakage.
She also mentions that swimming can be problematic for women who have urge incontinence because being surrounded by water creates a trigger to urinate. But swimming, for someone who has just stress incontinence, is great because theres no impact.
Bladder Leakage Solutions Treatments & Remedies
Just because you experience bladder control issues does not mean you must resign yourself to embarrassing accidents. Here are tips to prevent and protect yourself from bladder leaks:
1. Stay on a scheduleMake a drink scheduleThough it may be tempting to drastically limit fluid intake for fear of leaking urine, this is not advised. Donât limit fluids to the point of dehydration. Instead, drink prescribed amounts throughout the day in order to avoid overstressing your bladder with a large amount of fluid all at once.
Make a âgoâ scheduleKeeping your bladder empty will go a long way in reducing little bladder leaks throughout the day. Use the bathroom on a fixed schedule, say every two hours. Be sure to go whether or not you feel the need to. That way you can reduce your chances of a bladder leak if you find yourself laughing, coughing, or lifting with a full bladder.
2. Get movingLosing weight can help ease bladder leakage by removing one of its root causes â being overweight. Even a daily walk around the block to get moving can go a long way in shedding some extra pounds. Learn more about how obesity and diabetes can cause incontinence and bladder leakage.
If you want to find out more, read our complete guide on pelvic floor exercises.
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What Are The Symptoms Of Urinary Incontinence
The following are common symptoms of urinary incontinence. However, each individual may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:
Needing to rush to the restroom and/or losing urine if you do not get to the restroom in time
Urine leakage with movements or exercise
Leakage of urine that prevents activities
Urine leakage with coughing, sneezing or laughing
Leakage of urine that began or continued after surgery
Leakage of urine that causes embarrassment
Constant feeling of wetness without sensation of urine leakage
Feeling of incomplete bladder emptying
The symptoms of urinary incontinence may resemble other conditions or medical problems. Always consult your doctor for a diagnosis.
7 Things You Should Always Discuss with Your Gynecologist
When it comes to sexual and reproductive health, it can be hard to know whats normal and what may be a sign of a potential health problem. Even if you feel embarrassed about certain issues, your gynecologist has seen and heard it all and is there to help you, not to pass judgment.
When To Seek Medical Advice
See a GP if you have any type of urinary incontinence. Urinary incontinence is a common problem and you should not feel embarrassed talking to them about your symptoms.
This can also be the first step towards finding a way to effectively manage the problem.
Urinary incontinence can usually be diagnosed after a consultation with a GP, who will ask about your symptoms and may do a pelvic or rectal examination, depending on whether you have a vagina or a penis.
The GP may also suggest you keep a diary in which you note how much fluid you drink and how often you have to urinate.
Find out about diagnosing urinary incontinence.
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Watch Out For Bladder
Lots of things — including caffeine, alcohol, acidic foods and drinks, sweeteners, hot spices, and fizzy drinks — can irritate your bladder. Although many foods and drinks can make OAB symptoms worse, you don’t necessarily have to avoid all of them.
Instead, take the time to discover exactly what triggers your OAB. Is it the acids of citrus and tomatoes? The lactic acid in dairy products like aged cheese, yogurt, or sour cream? Or is it the caffeine in dark chocolates, sodas, tea, and coffee? Start by excluding a food or drink you think may be aggravating your symptoms, then add small amounts back to your diet slowly.
Specialized Tests To Diagnose Incontinence
Sometimes routine testing does not reveal the underlying cause, and further evaluation is required. You may be referred to a urologist or a urogynecologist for more specialized testing if your health concern is accompanied by pain, recurrent UTIs, blood or protein in the urine, neurological symptoms or muscle weakness, or pelvic organ prolapse. Women with this issue who have a history of radiation or surgery to the pelvic region may also be referred to a urologist.
Specialized testing can assess how well the bladder, urethra, and sphincters store and dispose of urine. There are many different types of instruments that can be used for urodynamic testing. Cystometry is a test that is used to help diagnose urge incontinence. It measures bladder pressure. The structures in the pelvis can be visualized with ultrasound. Uroflowometry can measure the volume of urine and flow rate. This test is used to determine the strength of related muscles and helps assess whether urine flow is blocked. There are other tests a urologist may perform depending on your symptoms.
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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.
When To Seek Medical Help
Any instance of incontinence is reason to seek medical help. It may be a symptom of a more serious condition that needs to be treated.
Even if the underlying cause isnt serious, incontinence can be a major disruption in your life. Its important to get an accurate diagnosis and discuss treatment options with your healthcare provider.
In some cases, incontinence is a sign of a medical emergency.
You should seek immediate medical attention if you lose control of your bladder and experience any of the following symptoms:
- trouble speaking or walking
Also Check: How To Treat An Irritated Bladder
Am I At A Higher Risk Of Incontinence At An Older Age
Your body constantly changes throughout your life. As you age, the muscles that support your pelvic organs can weaken. This means that your bladder and urethra have less support often leading to urine leakage. Your risk for developing incontinence as you age might be higher if you have a chronic health condition, have given birth to children, went through menopause, have an enlarged prostate or have had prostate cancer surgery. Its important to talk to your healthcare provider over time about the risks of incontinence and ways you can manage it without interference to your daily life.
Why Do I Have A Leaky Bladder
Urinary incontinence typically develops as the body changes, be that from aging, menopause, or childbirth. Though it can happen to anyone, reproductive events that are specific to women have a higher likelihood of causing the muscles that stop urine flow to weaken, resulting in urine leakage. It is a common occurrence among older individuals too.
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Urinary Incontinence A Guide To Coping With A Leaky Bladder
- Sun, Sep 26, 2021
Around 3 million people in the UK regularly experience urinary incontinence and have to struggle with the discomfort it can cause.
Dr Rhianna McClymont, Lead GP at Livi, explains how common bladder problems in women are and how easy some can be to treat or in most cases, see a significant improvement from treatment.
We know that as many as 1 in 5 women over the age of 40 have some kind of urinary incontinence, but unfortunately many do not ask for help – possibly due to embarrassment, says Dr Rhianna McClymont.
Treatment will depend on the type of female incontinence from simple lifestyle changes, daily exercises to medication and so its a good idea to speak to a GP about your symptoms as soon as you can.