Taking Control of Urinary Incontinence

Taking Control of Urinary Incontinence
There is plenty women can do to control urinary incontinence, and most solutions don’t require medication. In fact, new guidelines on urinary incontinence urge doctors to recommend pill-free treatments first. These include Kegel exercises, bladder training, and weight loss and exercise. Here are several of the pill-free methods for fighting urinary incontinence:

Kegel exercises work for all kinds of urinary incontinence. They strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which are used to hold in urine. Kegels are done by repeatedly squeezing and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles. If you have trouble doing Kegels, or they don’t seem to be working, a physical therapist can use techniques like biofeedback to help you find the right muscles to squeeze. Pelvic floor physical therapy can also improve posture, which helps keep pelvic floor muscles functioning properly.

Bladder training (urinating on a schedule) helps you learn to gradually increase the amount of urine you can comfortably hold. It’s most often recommended for women with an overactive bladder.

Weight loss and exercise can help women who are overweight or obese. Extra weight puts extra pressure on the bladder and pelvic muscles. Losing weight through a healthy diet and exercise helps relieve urinary incontinence. Studies have also shown that middle-aged women who are most physically active are least likely to develop incontinence.

These lifestyle changes may also help:

  • Watch your fluid intake. Drink only when you feel thirsty, and don’t exceed six to eight 8-ounce cups of fluid per day from all sources, including soup.
  • If you smoke, stop. Quitting reduces coughing, which puts pressure on the bladder.
  • Minimize bladder irritants like caffeine, alcohol, carbonated drinks, spicy foods, and citrus fruits and flavorings.