For far too many of us, aging brings with it a loss of bladder control that is both unpleasant and embarrassing. While some such issues are related to medications or other medical problems, there are some things that we can do to help prevent and control incontinence.
There are several ways that exercise can help to control incontinence. For one thing, there does appear to be a link between an unhealthy weight and problems with bladder control. By living a generally healthier lifestyle and losing a little weight can have a significant effect.
There are also at least 2 exercises that can specifically target bladder control. Kegels are a method of flexing the pelvic muscles, and in yoga, the muladhara bandha is a contraction of the perineum muscle in the pelvic floor. Both of these actions can strengthen the muscles involved in preventing urination.
Certain vitamins and minerals have been shown to impact muscle function in general, and a diet rich in these nutrients may help to control incontinence. Magnesium, for example, has been shown to reduce muscle spasms and is believed to be useful in improving bladder control. Foods rich in magnesium include bananas, corn, or potatoes.
Some research has shown that women with lower levels of vitamin D are more likely to have pelvic floor disorders such as incontinence, and increasing your intake may help you to control your bladder. Products like yogurt, eggs, and cheese are all rich in vitamin D.
There are also ways that you can retrain your bladder, allowing you more control over your body. When you are in a place that is safe and convenient, try to wait about ten minutes after you first feel the urge to go. This will help to rebuild the muscles that control the flow of urine. Keeping a diary that tracks your urges and your ability to control them may also help you and your physician to understand and cope with your incontinence.
Being aware of how much and what kinds of fluids you consume can help you to identify triggers and issues that are contributing to your incontinence. If you’re drinking a large amount of caffeine, alcohol, or carbonated beverages, there is definitely room for improvement. All of those things can exacerbate your bladder control issues.
If you notice that you’re drinking significantly more than the 8 full glasses per day of water (and fluids in general), cutting back may help. If you’re drinking significantly less, you may be dehydrated, and working with your physician to address that issue may improve your control.
If you have tried all of the lifestyle changes above and you’re still struggling with incontinence, your physician may recommend a number of different solutions. These could range from surgery or an implant to the regular use of incontinence underwear.