Combating Urinary Incontinence
You enjoyed a full life – vacations with the kids, fishing on weekends, lunch with the girls – until urinary leakage became a part of your day. Now you’re so anxious about having an accident while you’re out and about that you’re starting to avoid the activities you love.
What Can I Do About Urinary Incontinence?
Making some simple changes in your lifestyle can greatly alleviate and even eliminate your symptoms.
Pelvic floor exercises can strengthen your muscles and stop leakage. Call your doctor’s office and learn how to do this correctly. Be consistent and patient as it may take up to three months before you notice a difference. Meanwhile, change your overall work-out routine from a high impact one that puts pressure on your pelvic muscles to lower impact exercise such as Pilates which actually strengthens core muscles.
Certain Foods Can Help – Or Hurt
Avoid spicy and acidic foods (think grapefruit or orange juice) which can aggravate your bladder and make symptoms worse. If you experience frequent constipation, eat foods that are high in fiber since being constipated also puts pressure on your pelvic muscles and can contribute to leakage.
Stop Smoking Soon – Or Better Yet, Today
Even if you’ve been a smoker for many years, stopping today can have future health benefits. If you have a smoker’s cough your pelvic muscles are being strained which makes you more susceptible to leakage. Taking the first step to stop smoking will also greatly benefit your heart and lungs! Call your doctor for help with a smoking cessation plan that’s best for you. You’ll be glad you did.
Drink Up – Water, That Is
You may avoid drinking water out of fear that you’ll have to go even more. But water intake actually helps your bladder function properly and is good for your overall health. And since caffeine, especially coffee, irritates your bladder you should replace your caffeinated drinks with decaf.
Alcoholic beverages can also be part of the problem. Alcohol is a diuretic, which makes you urinate often and can greatly contribute to leakage. So don’t avoid the next social event, put on your party dress and enjoy a night out with a highball glass filled with H2O! Your happy bladder will thank you!
If you’re carrying more than a few extra pounds, here’s another reason to lose weight. The extra tissue is putting pressure on your bladder and can be contributing to your leakage. Now there’s motivation to dial down the scale! Just a few changes such as walking for twenty minutes a few times a week, decreasing your portion size at mealtime, and limiting fast food can help you slim down.
The Pelvic Floor & Continence Center offers pelvic physical therapy with a specially trained physical therapist in a private one-one-one setting. The physical therapist creates individualized treatment programs to improve pelvic floor muscle function, gain control over symptoms and reduce the need for medication and possibly surgery.
Treatments may include:
- Pelvic Floor Exercises. These exercises (also known as kegel exercises) can help both men and women gain more control over their bowel movements and urination. These exercises could help improve the strength of the sphincter and pelvic floor muscles and improve bowel control and bladder control.
- Biofeedback. Depending on your symptoms and level of comfort, your physical therapist may gently employ electrodes to measure your pelvic-floor muscle activity. The biofeedback obtained can help make you more aware of the correct way to use your pelvic-floor muscles.
- Muscle strengthening exercises. Your physical therapist will teach you specific exercises to stretch and strengthen other important muscles that help support proper bowel and bladder function.
- Electrical stimulation. Your physical therapist may apply gentle electrical stimulation to help improve your awareness of your muscle function.
A medical procedure may be necessary to alleviate your symptoms. If you’re male, your physician may suggest that the best plan is to surgically place a urethral sling around the duct from which your urine flows (the urethra) to lift it back into its proper position which will help in urine retention. The sling material may be muscle, ligament, or tendon taken from elsewhere in your body and attached to your abdominal wall. Or it may be comprised of synthetic material that’s compatible to your body or absorbable polymer that disintegrates over time.
Another procedure uses urethral bulking injections which will close a hole in the urethra through which urine leaks or to build up the thickness of the wall of the urethra so it seals tightly to hold back urine. Most bulking materials are injected just outside the muscle of the urethra at the bladder outlet. This procedure is performed on both men and women.
In addition, small nerve stimulators can be inserted just beneath your skin so that gentle pulses stimulate your nerves and manipulate contractions in the muscles in your pelvic floor. This helps with bladder control.
The key to combating your symptoms is to talk to your doctor. The sooner you begin a treatment plan, the better your outcome. You don’t have to suffer in silence any longer. Let us help you today.
If you are concerned about your urinary incontinence problems, come see us at the Pelvic Floor & Continence Center.
5354 Reynolds Street, Suite 318
Professional Office Building
Savannah, GA 31405