Can I Prevent UI?
No one is sure exactly how to prevent urinary incontinence. Many of the risk factors are difficult or impossible to change. For example, genetics or pelvic floor problems due to other diseases.
GOOD NEWS! There are certain things that can reduce the likelihood or severity of incontinence.
- A diet with plenty of fiber and fluids keeps your bowel working normally.
- Constipation and chronic straining during a bowel movement can weaken muscles and nerves and stretch the connective tissues of the pelvic floor.
- This increases your risk of developing incontinence.
Move—Exercise Your Body and Your Pelvic Muscles
- Regular exercise is important for maintaining healthy bowel function. It also helps keep your weight in check.
- Do your Kegel exercises to keep your pelvic floor muscles in shape, too.
- On the flip side, avoid heavy lifting and repetitive strenuous activities. Learn how to lift safely by using your leg and arm muscles.
MAINTAIN A NORMAL WEIGHT
- Lose weight, if you are overweight.
- Overweight women have a greater risk for developing incontinence.
- Carrying excess weight also worsens the severity of urinary incontinence.
- Smoking increases your risk of UI.
- And, seek medical attention to evaluate and treat a chronic cough.
Something to Talk About
Many women who have bladder control problems are reluctant to discuss them with anyone. They are embarrassed to acknowledge that they have a problem, even to themselves.
Some people think that these conditions are a normal part of aging. And, that since bladder control problems are rarely life-threatening, they are not really a problem. Family and friends, even some healthcare providers, may share this view.
The truth is that UI can have a very significant impact:
- We know that UI can undermine your sense of well-being and self-worth, and your ability to live your life the way you want.
- Scientific studies indicate that quality of life measures significantly decrease when a woman experiences these kinds of bladder control problems.
- After experiencing these problems, women may begin to stop exercising or participating in physical or social activities, which can further reduce health and quality of life.
- Work activities, travel and intimacy also may suffer as a result.
The good news is that 80 to 90% of women who seek treatment experience significant improvement. Doctors, like urogyns, work with women on treatments, ranging from lifestyle and diet changes to nerve stimulation and surgery, help women recover parts of their lives they may have lost.
Learn more, get evaluated and review treatment options appropriate for your urinary incontinence. The more you know, the more confident you will be in choosing the direction of treatment.
Original publication date: May 2008; Content Updated: November 2014