Losing urine that requires a woman to wear Depends is a very depressing situation. It is very embarrassing for women to go to the pharmacy or grocery store and her box of Depends in her cart is very discouraging and a source of great anxiety. There are nearly 13 million women who have incontinence and many of them have not talked to their doctor about the problem and suffer in silence.
Stress incontinence, which is more common in women, causes urine to leak when you laugh or cough. Overactive bladder, also called urge incontinence, is caused by urinary muscle spasms that cause an urgency to urinate. If you leak urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or exercise, you have stress incontinence. Mental stress does not cause stress incontinence. The “stress” is pressure on the bladder. When your pelvic and sphincter muscles are strong, they can handle the extra pressure from a cough, sneeze, exercise, or laugh. But when those muscles are weak, that sudden pressure can push urine out of the bladder. In stress incontinence, weak pelvic muscles can let urine escape when a cough or other action puts pressure on the bladder.
Some treatments are as simple as changing some daily habits.
I recommend that women try the simplest treatment choices first. Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic muscles and don’t require any equipment. The trick is finding the right muscles to squeeze. It is the same muscles that you contract to stop your urine stream or to prevent you from passing gas from your rectum. After about 6 to 8 weeks, you should notice that you have fewer leaks and more bladder control. Use the pelvic muscle exercise log included with the Kegel Exercise Tips sheet to keep track of your progress.
Timed voiding. By keeping track of the times you leak urine, you may notice certain times of day when you are most likely to have an accident. You can use that information to make planned trips to the bathroom ahead of time to avoid the accident. Once you have established a safe pattern, you can build your bladder control by stretching out the time between trips to the bathroom. By forcing your pelvic muscles to hold on longer, you make those muscles stronger.
Diet changes. You may notice that certain foods and drinks cause you to urinate more often. You may find that avoiding caffeinated drinks like coffee, tea, or cola helps your bladder control. You can choose the decaf version of your favorite drink. Make sure you are not drinking too much fluid because that will cause you to make a large amount of urine. If you are bothered by nighttime urination, drink most of your fluids during the day and limit your drinking after dinner. You should not, however, avoid drinking fluids for fear of having an accident. Some foods may irritate your bladder and cause urgency. Talk with your doctor about diet changes that might affect your bladder.
Weight loss. Extra body weight puts extra pressure on your bladder. By losing weight, you may be able to relieve some of that pressure and regain your bladder control.
Bottom Line: Incontinence doesn’t kill a woman but it does steal her quality of life. Often times these simple techniques will help reduce urinary incontinence. If you have any questions. See your doctor
I have also written a book, What’s Going On Down There-The Complete Guide To Women’s Pelvic Health, and there is an entire chapter on urinary incontinence. The book is available from Amazon.com