If you experience bladder leakage when you cough, laugh, sneeze or engage in certain physical activities like jogging, jumping and picking up heavy objects, you’re not alone.
Stress incontinence occurs most often in women, but it also affects men. People who suffer from stress incontinence experience involuntary leakage when pressure on the bladder increases suddenly, which happens when you cough or laugh. The good news is there are ways you can help reduce continence problems.
Avoid certain activities
If high-impact activities like jogging or jumping cause bladder leakage, there are other ways you can stay active. Try low-impact activities like biking or swimming. Avoid lifting whenever you can because it puts strain on you pelvic floor muscles. If you need to pick up something, tightening your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift can help you avoid bladder leakage.
Cut down on alcohol and caffeine
Alcohol and caffeine irritate the bladder, causing you to produce more urine. This causes your bladder to fill up more quickly, increasing the possibility of leakage. When cutting out these stimulants, don’t forget that chocolate also often contains caffeine.
Go before you get the urge
If you’re struggling with incontinence, take bathroom breaks before you feel the urge to go. If you’re out and about, be aware of nearby restrooms. To help avoid incontinence while in transit, go to the bathroom before you leave your house and other places like a store or restaurant.
Do the right exercise
Pelvic floor exercises such as Kegels can be effective for women and men. These exercises help strengthen your pelvic muscles (the ones used to stop urinating) and improve control of urinary urges. Squeezing your pelvic floor muscles is an exercise that can be done while driving to work, sitting at your desk or reading a book before bed.
Carrying extra weight around your stomach puts more pressure on your bladder. Losing weight helps relieve that pressure. Use the Body Mass Index (BMI) calculator in Tanner Health System's Health Library to see if you’re at a healthy weight.
Smoking not only damages blood vessels and tissue, it may also cause you to cough more, which puts a strain on your pelvic muscles. If you want to quit smoking, Tanner’s Get Healthy, Live Well offers free Freshstart tobacco cessation classes. Search the event calendar and register online now or call 770.214.CARE (2273).
To find a urologist, call Tanner’s free, 24-hour physician referral line at 770-214-CARE (2273) or select “Find a Provider” at tanner.org. For more information about urology services at Tanner, visit TannerUrologyCare.org.