Urinary incontinence is a common issue, but it’s one that’s not often discussed. Many women, especially women who’ve given birth vaginally or are going through menopause, find that a sneeze, laugh, or coughing fit is enough to trigger an accident.
The good news is that you don’t have to keep experiencing embarrassing leaks. Dr. Daniel Esteves and Dr. Tania Lugo diagnose and treat both types of urinary incontinence 一 stress urinary incontinence and overactive bladder 一 at our office in Lawrenceville, Georgia.
In the meantime, read on to learn more about seven lifestyle changes for managing urinary incontinence.
1. Avoid bladder irritants
Bladder irritation can contribute to increase urination 一 both frequency and urge. Certain foods and drinks can irritate your bladder, especially if you already have a bladder condition. Common bladder irritants include coffee, tea, carbonated drinks, alcohol, apples and apple juice, citrus fruit, chocolate, spicy food, tomatoes, and yogurt.
If you’re already struggling with urinary incontinence, try avoiding dietary bladder irritants to see if your symptoms improve. You may find that keeping a diary useful to tracking down the foods that irritate you the most.
2. Watch your fluid intake
While it’s important to stay adequately hydrated, don't drink all of your fluids at once. Drinking too much too quickly can overwhelm your bladder and make the urgency stronger. Instead, try spreading out your fluid intake evenly throughout the day. If you struggle with nighttime incontinence, you may want to drink more toward the morning and afternoon rather than right before bedtime.
3. Don’t skip your water
While you don’t want to overdo it on the fluids, you don’t want to underdo it either. Reducing your water intake is tempting, but it won’t make incontinence better. In fact, not drinking enough can make incontinence worse. That’s because when you’re dehydrated, your urine is more concentrated, which irritates your bladder and increases urgency.
4. Wear dark clothes
While wearing dark clothing won’t treat urinary incontinence, it can make any leaks less embarrassing. You might add a few more pairs of black or dark navy dress pants to your work wardrobe. Many women with incontinence feel more confident wearing dark pants to work, social events, or while working out.
5. Consider when and where you work out
Exercising, especially jumping moves, can make leaks more likely. Runners may also struggle with stress urinary incontinence. Keep these tips in mind when working out:
- Always go to the restroom before a workout so your bladder is as empty as possible
- Know where bathroom stops are along any long-running routes
- Limit caffeinated drinks before working out
Don’t let accidents or leaks keep you from working out. Exercise is good for your mind and body, and treating urinary incontinence can help you return to the gym with confidence.
6. Wear a sanitary napkin or panty liner
Wearing a sanitary napkin won’t treat incontinence, but it can make leaks more manageable. Some women prefer to wear a lightweight panty liner daily. If you go this route, change the pad as soon as it's damp to avoid irritating your delicate skin.
7. Strengthen your pelvic floor
Kegels are a type of exercise that help strengthen your pelvic floor (the muscles supporting your bladder and bowels). Regular Kegels can help with urinary incontinence.
What to do when lifestyle changes aren’t enough
Although lifestyle changes can go a long way in improving the symptoms of urinary incontinence, sometimes it’s not enough to get the relief you need. Dr. Esteves and Dr. Lugo offer a variety of conservative and surgical treatments to address your symptoms.
In addition to the lifestyle changes listed above, we may recommend any of the following:
- Medications to ease overactive bladder muscles
- Behavioral training, including how and when to schedule toilet trips
- Minimally invasive surgery to repair pelvic floor muscles
- A mesh sling to address incontinence symptoms related to a prolapsed organ
Speak up and explore the many ways we can manage urinary incontinence. To get started, call our office or request an appointment through our website today.