How familiar does this sound? Laughing with friends: leak. Out to lunch: fifth trip to the bathroom. Coughing from a cold: leak. Stopping off somewhere new: first task scouting out the bathroom situation.
If your little leaks and frequent bathroom trips are getting in the way of your life, it is time to take back control and fix those leaks for good. Take charge of your urinary incontinence.
What is urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is the involuntary loss of bladder control. Women typically experience one of two types of incontinence: stress incontinence or urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is leakage as a result of pressure on the bladder and urethra forcing urine out of the bladder. Stress incontinence can often occur when coughing or laughing.
Urge incontinence, or over-active bladder, occurs when you feel sudden, strong urges to go to the bathroom on a regular basis but either can’t go, or only urinate a tiny amount. Those who suffer from urge incontinence may experience a sudden and frequent need to urinate, or an involuntary loss of bladder control, according to the Mayo Clinic.
Unfortunately, it is possible to have both of these forms of incontinence, according to Women’s Health. But what causes these issues and how can you fix them?
What causes urinary incontinence?
Urinary incontinence is mainly caused by a weakening of pelvic floor muscles. Women are more predisposed to urinary incontinence due to major life events such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause, all of which weaken pelvic floor muscles. According to Medical News Today, an estimated 30% of women suffer from urinary incontinence of some form, as opposed to 1.5% of men.
What are my treatment options?
While there are a variety of medications available to help with urinary incontinence, many women have seen improvement in their condition through bladder training and pelvic floor exercises.
Bladder training involves training your bladder to either completely empty when urinating, or stopping your bladder from thinking you have to go. According to Medical News Today, the three most effective methods of bladder control are:
- Delaying the event – resisting the urge to urinate for a few minutes at a time to help retrain your system and control the urge.
- Double voiding – waiting a couple of minutes after first using the bathroom and trying to go again to fully empty your bladder and prevent another urge from coming on.
- Toilet timetables – scheduling bathroom breaks every few hours and resisting the urge to use the restroom until your allotted time.
Exercising your pelvic floor muscles can also help fight urinary incontinence. Find your pelvic floor muscles by trying to stop the urine mid-flow during a trip to the restroom. (Do not continue to exercise by stopping your urine mid-flow as it can cause the bladder to not completely empty.) Once you understand the muscles you need to target, begin to exercise and strengthen them.
With an empty bladder, sit and tighten the pelvic floor muscles for three to five seconds at a time relaxing in between. Many women do this Kegel exercise while lying down as well. Another Kegel exercise you can try is to insert a clean finger into the vagina and tighten your pelvic floor muscles around it, holding for ten seconds or so at a time.
For more information on Kegel exercises and how to locate your pelvic floor muscles, visit Healthline.com.
Tying it all together
You don’t have to be a restroom frequent flyer. Talk with your doctor today about your urinary incontinence and get back to laughing, jumping, and adventuring without the fear of leaks. Take back your bladder control today.