To keep your bladder in tip-top condition, follow these golden rules.
• Strengthen your pelvic floor muscles
Knowing how to correctly perform pelvic floor exercises (also known as Kegel’s) should be second nature to every woman. Simply, ‘kegeling’ is the repeated squeezing, holding and relaxing of the pelvic floor muscles. Like any exercise, you have to do it right, and often, to get results. A nurse continence advisor can help you with this. Or check out pelvicexercises.com.au for great tips
and videos from Australian pelvic floor physiotherapist Michelle Kenway. You can also view her tutorials on YouTube.
• Weight loss can markedly help reduce pressure on the bladder
You know the drill: a healthy, varied diet rich in fruits and vegies is the go. Oh, lots of exercise too!
• Drink more fluids, don’t avoid them!
It might seem counterintuitive, but drinking more water keeps you hydrated and helps prevent constipation, which can lead to straining. Water also dilutes urine which helps reduce any irritation.
• Get out of the habit of going to the toilet ‘just in case’
as this trains your bladder to hold smaller amounts of urine, meaning you’ll need to go more frequently. On the flip side, when you really need to go, go! Don’t hold it in for longer than necessary.
• Select medications make urinary incontinence worse
Ask your GP if ‘leakage’ could be a possible side effect of something you are taking.
• Go easy on caffeinated, carbonated and alcoholic drinks
Also check your intake of chocolate and spicy or acidic foods, like tomatoes, as they may be bladder irritants.
• Plan ahead
As you are working towards a more permanent fix, always be prepared. Get yourself pads made specifically for bladder-leakage problems; there is an excellent variety available. Always have them handy in your bag, and perhaps a clean pair of undies as well. Don’t use regular sanitary pads or liners, as they’re not cut out for this job.
• Ask your GP, gynaecologist or nurse continence advisor about support pessaries
These are small silicone devices, inserted high into the vagina, that help lift and support pelvic organs. They can help with prolapse conditions as well as stress incontinence. There are many different kinds and you’ll need to be fitted for one (much like a contraceptive diaphragm). Some you can insert yourself on an ‘as needed’ basis, others remain in place once inserted by your doctor. It may take several tries to get the right fit and design for you. Definitely worth checking out.
• Ask also about biofeedback therapy
and electrical impulse pelvic-floor stimulation, both of which are used to rehabilitate and strengthen these muscles.