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 Top Tips to Prevent Urinary Incontinence as You Age

Jan 09, 2024
 Top Tips to Prevent Urinary Incontinence as You Age
Many aging women worry about leaking urine when they sneeze, laugh, or can’t reach the bathroom in time. If you’re one of them, keep reading for easy ways to prevent urinary incontinence as you age and treatments that help if you have it.

Countless women can relate to the anxiety you feel about minor “accidents” — that really aren't minor — when you let out a good belly laugh or even an unexpected cough. Female urinary incontinence affects over 25 million women at some point in their lives, but if you’re over 50, you’re more likely to experience it. 

At Southdale ObGyn, our care team has solutions to relieve the discomfort and embarrassment of incontinence, eye-opening information about the condition, and things you can do at home to relieve symptoms. Our patient-centered approach means we build a genuine relationship with you and dedicate ourselves to your wellness. Only then can we create a treatment plan tailored to your needs.

The facts about female urinary incontinence

In addition to the bladder muscle weakness that worsens when you pass 50, other risk factors for developing incontinence include:

  • Living with certain health conditions
  • Taking certain prescription medications
  • Having given birth vaginally
  • Being postmenopausal
  • Living with chronic constipation
  • Being obese
  • Having a urinary tract infection (UTI)

There’s more than one type of incontinence. Stress incontinence is where leakage accompanies an activity, like sneezing, coughing, or laughing.

Urge incontinence occurs when you can’t reach the bathroom in enough time before you leak, while mixed incontinence sufferers experience both urge and stress incontinence. 

When urinary incontinence disrupts your life and creates stress, it’s time to see your Southdale OB/GYN provider for solutions. Urinary incontinence is actually a fall risk for women who habitually rush to reach the bathroom, and the fear of having an accident can cause you to isolate yourself and participate in fewer activities.

Preventive self-care for urinary incontinence

In addition to innovative treatment approaches, we’ve got some good advice about things you can do to prevent incontinence issues that are quite doable.

1. Do your Kegel exercises

Because your pelvic floor supports your bladder, performing pelvic floor-strengthening Kegel exercises gives you better control over urination. 

They’re simple: Just lie down or sit; your bladder should be empty. Tighten your pelvic floor muscle for 3-5 seconds (it feels like you’re holding your urine). Then, relax for another 3-5 seconds. Aim to do 10 sets three times per day.

2. Consider bladder training

Bladder training is when you gradually work to increase the time between bathroom breaks, only going when the urge is strong.

3. Diet matters

Believe it or not, what you eat and drink can affect incontinence. Caffeine, alcohol, and acidic foods – think citrus foods and tomato sauce, for example — can all irritate your bladder and exacerbate incontinence.

4. Combat constipation

Here again, diet comes into play. By eating high-fiber foods and staying hydrated, you can avoid constipation, which increases your incontinence risk.

5. Stay away from cigarettes

If you smoke, quit, and if you’re not a smoker, don’t start. Smoking can lead to chronic cough, which stresses your bladder considerably. The habit also irritates your bladder, making the urge to go more frequent.

6. Keep your weight in check

Extra pounds can lead to stress incontinence, so keeping your weight within the normal range for your height and build can help prevent problems. 

We offer testing and a variety of effective treatments that resolve the underlying causes of incontinence. To investigate the roots of your incontinence, we perform urodynamic testing, which allows us to discover precisely how your bladder and urethra contain and release urine and develop a customized treatment plan. 

We may recommend bladder-calming medications called anticholinergics or transobturator sling treatment, where we place mesh tape under your urethra. This is a minimally invasive outpatient procedure — no hospital stay necessary. 

Free yourself from the physically and emotionally limiting symptoms of incontinence; call our Edina or Burnsville office or schedule an appointment online.