Urinary incontinence is a common problem that can affect both men and women. According to the Canadian Continence Foundation, 1.5 million Canadians are incontinent. It can be a distressing and embarrassing condition that affects many aspects of life such as work, social activities and intimacy. People may find that there bladder has control of their lives. Whatever the cause, there is help and physiotherapy is the first line of defense for treating this matter.
We know that it is important for men and women of all ages to maintain pelvic floor strength. There are many benefits of training these muscles which can ultimately lead to continence and helping the bladder to hold on after getting an urge to urinate as well as increased satisfaction in sexual relationships.
Tips for Bladder Control and Leakage
Stress incontinence which is when there is a loss of small to moderate amount of urine due to laughing, coughing or sneezing. Typically, it is due to the lack of muscle coordination in the pelvic floor to contract before a leak can occur. The bladder even has its own muscle (called the detrusor) that is involuntary but we can control with certain tips and training.
There is a connection between the bladder muscle and pelvic floor muscles and how they function together. The muscles in around the bladder must relax as it is filling and the pelvic floor muscles can hold the sphincter closed. When the bladder reaches its capacity, the pelvic floor muscles relax and the bladder muscle contracts to eliminate the urine.
Even for those whose incontinence will ultimately be cured, there is likely to be a period of time before the cure is achieved when management through other means would be an important strategy, such as the use of liners or pads. Physiotherapists will also make other recommendations for lifestyle changes that will help the bladder be less irritable.
You can help reduce bladder leakage by:
- Avoiding fluids which irritate the bladder (e.g., caffeinated beverages and alcohol)
- Keeping your bowels regular
- Losing weight
- Keeping yourself fit and mobile
- Avoiding repeated high impact physical activities
- Stopping smoking
- Asking your doctor whether any of your medications have a negative effect on the bladder – tell her/him about your urine leakage
- Keep a bladder diary to promote normal urinating habits
- Posture and lower abdominal re-education
Bladder Control Tips
- Do not change your normal intake of water every day, but it is a good idea to stop drinking water about 2-3 hours before going to bed to limit frequency of using the washroom during the night.
- Your body still needs a certain amount of fluids per day to function (5-6 cups) per day that is non-caffeinated, non-carbonated. It is best to spread the intake of fluids throughout the day. Taking large amounts (over 8-10 ounces) of fluid at any single time can overwhelm the bladder and make it more difficult to hold the urine.
- Always empty your bladder completely. At the end of voiding, wait and give an extra push to be sure that all the urine is out.
- Empty your bladder before and after intercourse.
- Drink bladder friendly fluids. The fluids that are most friendly to your bladder are water, apple juice and grape juice. Cranberry juice may be effective for people who have repeated bladder infections.
- Modify what you drink. Alcohol (for example, beer, wine, or liquor) can interfere with bladder control. It should be used moderately (one drink per day) or not at all.
These tips can all be used to help take back control of your bladder and stop unnecessary need of using the washroom or going before you leave the house ‘just in case’. It can also help get your pelvic floor muscles functioning more effectively with the bladder working under a better schedule. Also, proper pelvic floor strengthening by performing Kegel exercises is one of the first lines of defense and can ultimately stop leaking issues. You can refer to our previous blog on Kegels for more information. This way, these muscles can equally balance out each other and work better to keep you dry and stay dry!
If you are looking for a physiotherapy centre that treats the above condition, please call our centre at 613-424-7852 to book an assessment with a physiotherapist specially trained in pelvic physiotherapy and rostered with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario.