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As we’re officially into the new year, it can be easy to forget about keeping ourselves fit - especially with all of those turkey leftovers to eat!
Dealing with an overactive bladder can be a challenge. Although it is very common, it can still be embarrassing to suffer from urinary incontinence (UI). We compiled a list of 5 strategies that should help you to alleviate the effects of UI so you can have a more relaxed approach to the new year.
Facts About Urinary Incontinence
According to the American Urological Association, one-quarter to one-third of men and women in the United States experience urinary incontinence. UI is more common among women than it is in men, with an estimated 30 percent of females aged 30-60 suffering from it, compared to 1.5-5 percent of men.
How Does It Happen?
UI can occur due to a number of different factors; stress, coughing, before and after pregnancy, and it is a lot more common as a side effect of other conditions such as obesity. Also, the chances of urinary incontinence increase as people get older.
Treating Urinary Incontinence1. Pelvic Floor Exercises
The pelvic floor is a sheet of muscles that support your bladder and bowel. If it weakens, you could experience urine leakage when coughing, laughing, or sneezing. You may feel a need to visit the bathroom frequently or have an urgency to get to the bathroom and experience leaking on the way.
Pelvic floor exercises (sometimes known as Kegel exercises) aim to strengthen your muscles to support your organs, improve bladder control, and prevent urine leakage. Studies comparing people who exercised their pelvic muscles with those who didn't found that people who practiced Kegels were 2.5-17 times more likely to fully recover from urinary incontinence. Best of all, pelvic floor exercises can be practiced anywhere!
2. Retrain Your Bladder
Bladder training is a behavioral therapy that is focused on increasing the time between urinations. Muscles are in control of your bladder, which means that your muscles can be strengthened in a similar way to working out your biceps and quadriceps. People suffering from UI will usually develop a habit of going straight to the bathroom when they feel they are about to experience leakage.
However, this exacerbates the problem by causing the bladder to get used to holding less urine and making it more sensitive and overactive. Bladder training can aid in reducing the effects of urinary incontinence by helping the bladder to hold more urine and prevent it from being overactive.
3. Keep Your BMI in Check
Obesity and being overweight are associated with a higher risk of developing urinary incontinence. One study showed that women over the age of 70 revealed that the prevalence of UI and stress-induced UI was no less than twofold higher among those in the highest body mass index (BMI) category, compared to the lowest. Women that took action to lose at least 5 percent of their BMI had a lower chance of experiencing new or persistent stress urinary incontinence over 3 years than those who lost less weight.
Aiming to reduce your BMI if you are currently overweight or fear you may be obese could help you to get your UI under control.
The following lifestyle choices can help reduce your BMI:
- A brisk 30-minute walk 5 times a week
- Consuming a diet high in fruits and vegetables
- Cutting down on saturated fats
- Avoiding snacks, especially of the sugary variety!
- Increasing fiber intake
- Ditching processed foods
4. Limit Caffeine and Alcohol
Some of you may be sad to hear this but caffeine and alcohol beverages increase urine production. It's wise to limit your consumption of these beverages if you are suffering from UI. A study showed that an intake of at least 204 milligrams of caffeine per day was associated with urinary incontinence in women.
5. Start Practicing Yoga
Yoga can go a long way in relieving symptoms of UI. According to a study from the University of California San Francisco (UCSF), yoga can help people with urinary incontinence gain more control over urination and avoid accidental leakage. People that took part in a yoga program that was designed to improve pelvic health had a 70 percent reduction in their urine leakage!
There are multiple reasons for this; Incontinence is often connected with anxiety and depression, so people that have UI may benefit from the mindful meditation and relaxation aspect of yoga. Practicing yoga consistently can also help to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and safeguard from incontinence.
We have all had the occasional health concern and have wondered whether we should go to urgent care or directly to the emergency room. It can be overwhelming to think about, especially if the situation has to do with women's health issues such as pregnancy or gynecological health issues in general.