Bladder Control-You Can Do It

You can take these steps to help improve control of your bladder:

  • Behavior modification. This may involve timed urination — going to the bathroom according to the clock rather than waiting for the need to go. You may start off urinating every hour or so and then build up to a longer interval.
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegels). These exercises involve learning how to contract and release your pelvic floor muscles in order to strengthen those muscles. These are the internal muscles you contract to stop the flow while you’re urinating. If you have problems doing the exercises, biofeedback may help you learn how to control your pelvic floor muscles. In biofeedback, a monitor helps you see the strength of your contractions and if you’ve contracted the right muscles. For incontinence that isn’t caused by nerve damage, these exercises may bring noticeable improvement in 8 to 12 weeks. If you’re a woman, you can use a vaginal cone to improve muscle strength. You insert a tampon-shaped cone into your vagina and hold it there by contracting your pelvic floor muscles. Holding the cone and contracting pelvic floor muscles may increase muscle strength. As your muscles grow stronger, you increase the weight of the cone.
  • Diet. Avoiding certain foods and drinks may improve incontinence in some people. Alcohol and caffeine relax the sphincter muscle and are mild diuretics. Carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and juices, spicy food, chocolate or artificial sweeteners may irritate your bladder. Drinking less liquid before bedtime also may help.
  • Hygiene. Problems with urine leakage may require you to take extra care to keep your skin clean and free of irritation. Frequent wiping with a cloth and use of moisturizers and creams may help with cleanliness. Deodorizing tablets may eliminate urine odor. A variety of pads, pants, shields and other devices is available to control urine leakage. Many women find absorbent pads made for urine leakage much less irritating than menstrual pads. Ask your doctor which devices to control urine leakage might work best for you.

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