Perhaps you’ve experienced it: you’re hitting the dance floor, having a laugh with friends, or starting your daily run and you suddenly feel your bladder start to leak. Whether it’s light or heavy urine loss, it can be pretty annoying. Luckily there are some things you can do to gain control of your bladder.
Unwanted urine loss can have many forms: from losing a few drops to losing a full bladder. Almost half of women experience this inconvenience at one time or another. There are different types of incontinence. Most women have stress incontinence or urge incontinence. With stress incontinence you don’t feel like you have to pee, but you suddenly lose urine while coughing, laughing or sneezing. With urge incontinence you’ll very suddenly have to go to the toilet. Also, you’ll need to pee more than ten times a day. This mainly occurs in women 60 and up, and in women during and after pregnancy.
Causes of incontinence
The bladder is closed by a sphincter muscle which is held in place by the pelvic floor muscles. If the sphincter, pelvic floor muscles and the bladder are not working well together, that’s when you get unwanted urine loss. This often comes from having either weakened pelvic floor muscles or overactive pelvic floor muscles. These can be caused by pregnancy, child birth, heavy physical work, frequent coughing, constipation, surgery, nerve damage, certain medications, or infections (such as bladder infection). A weakened pelvic floor is something that comes from ageing.
If you are experiencing urine loss then it’s important to visit your doctor to find out what the cause is. The causes will determine the right treatment. If it’s a matter of a weak bladder or weak pelvic floor muscles than here are some tips on how to get them stronger and how to decrease urine loss: *
Tackling urine loss
Loss of urine is not something you have to live with. Take your bladder into your own hands (figuratively speaking ????), find out what’s going on, and don’t let your bladder determine your day!
1. Train your pelvic floor muscles
In order to do that, it is important that you know where these muscles are. Find them next time you’re on the toilet. Hold your pee for a moment (only do this to find the muscle). The muscles you use to do that are your pelvic floor muscles. You can train these muscles! The most common exercise for this is the Kegal exercise. The first time you do this lie on your back with your legs bent and your feet on the floor. Tighten your pelvic floor muscles for 6 counts. Then slowly relax the muscles for 6 counts. Repeat this ten times. You can then do this exercise anywhere: behind your desk, walking, cycling, while doing the dishes or during yoga. Just don’t do it on the toilet while you’re peeing. Strong pelvic floor muscles don’t only decrease urine loss, but they can also enhance orgasms. So that’s a fun bonus!
2. You can also train your bladder!
Bladder training also helps to reduce urine loss. Teach your bladder to hold more urine and prevent it from becoming overactive. Do you have to pee? Wait two minutes before you go to the toilet. It might be hard but doing breathing exercises can help. If you need to, find a way to distract yourself during these 2 minutes. Play a game on your phone or call a friend. The more you train the less often you’ll have to pee during the day. Try to get your bladder on a schedule. Train until you have to go to the toilet every three to four hours and then plan fixed toilet moments per day. Peeing five to eight times is normal. And when you pee, do it well. Sit up straight with your pelvis slightly forward and after peeing wait a moment to make sure you’ve emptied your bladder entirely.
3. Don’t stop drinking water!
Drinking water is important! Coffee and alcohol…less so. Some women drink less water because they think this will reduce incontinence. But this actually makes your urine more concentrated, which can result in a bladder infection. Coffee can make things worse unfortunately. Studies show that women who drink more than two cups of caffeine per day are more likely to lose urine. Caffeine ensures that the bladder fills up quickly, which means it can leak. Also take a close look at your alcohol consumption, as this can irritate or put unnecessary pressure on the bladder.
4. Use incontinence material
Incontinence material absorbs urine loss and helps you stay dry throughout the day. Especially if you are exercising your bladder by holding your pee for 2 minutes before going, using liners can ease your mind if you’re afraid you won’t make it. Since you may use this on a daily basis, it is important that this material does not irritate. Therefore, use products made from 100% organic cotton, this reduces the chance of allergic reactions. Some women use menstrual pads to absorb their urine loss, but this is not the best option since menstrual pads are made to absorb uterine lining which is a very different consistency than urine. Also incontinence uses odour control to decrease any odoour that is released from the urine. Therefore, use pads or liners meant for absorbing urine loss.
5. Do yoga
Studies show that yoga can reduce the symptoms of urine loss. People who participated in yoga classes that exercise the pelvis had 70% less urine loss afterwards. They gained more control over urinating, which stopped the leaking. Yoga strengthens your core which also effect the pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder, thus protecting you against incontinence. So get on the mat!
6. Live your life
Loss of urine causes anxiety in some women, so they prefer not to leave the house. Being constantly aware of possible urine loss is not pleasant. If you suffer from urine loss, remember that you are not the only one. The woman next to you in the gym probably also loses a few drops. In fact, almost half of women have experienced urine loss at one time or another. It’s just one of those things that we don’t talk about even though it’s completely normal. Don’t let it keep you from going out and having a good time with your friends. It might even help to talk to your friends about it. Maybe you’ll find that they are in the same boat!
If you suffer from severe, persistent urine loss, go to the doctor. Luckily, the loss of urine in most women is easy to treat and can easily be absorbed with incontinence material. Small changes in your lifestyle make a big difference. Don’t let a slight loss of urine stop you from living your life!
* Tips to make your pelvic floor stronger are not always good things to do if you have overactive pelvic floor muscles, for example. That’s why it’s important to visit your doctor to find out what the cause of your urine loss is.
Source: Anna Keijsers, pelvic floor physical therapist at DaCosta fysio