Urinary Incontinence: Behavioral Changes for Better Bladder Control
Urinary incontinence is a common, yet treatable, condition that affects more than 25 million men and women in the United States. People suffering from incontinence don’t have control over the bladder, which can result in embarrassing wetting accidents. Many people rely on incontinence products, such as adult diapers, to help manage their bladder control problems, which may have been caused by weak pelvic floor muscles, pregnancy, prostate surgery, or disease. However, what people may not realize is that there are behavioral changes that can greatly reduce or even eliminate incontinence symptoms. Below are three ways that may lead to better bladder control:
1. Timed voiding
This method involves using the bathroom on a regular schedule throughout the day. The goal of these scheduled bathroom trips is to reduce the amount of wetting accidents. First, determine how often you usually use the bathroom and then come up with a time interval between bathroom trips based on your voiding habits and your personal schedule. If you’re scheduled to use the bathroom, yet you don’t feel the need to, it’s important to empty your bladder anyway.
Vibrating reminder watches offer a discreet reminder to use the bathroom. Timed voiding is often used by caregivers caring for those with limited mobility.
2. Pelvic floor exercises
Kegels, or pelvic floor exercises, strengthen the pubococcygeal muscles, which help control the flow of urine. The exercises consist of repeated contractions of the muscles used to stop urine midstream. Women often do kegels to repair their pelvic floor after pregnancy and childbirth or during menopause. Men can also do kegels to help with bladder control and premature ejaculation.
For best results, kegels should become a daily habit – as little as 15 minutes a day can make a big difference in your bladder control.The great thing about kegel exercises is that no one will know you’re doing them. People also report seeing improvements in sexual gratification after doing these pelvic strengthening exercises!
3. Bladder retraining
Similar to timed voiding, the process of bladder retraining also involves urinating on a schedule. However, this time, you’re extending the amount of time between bathroom trips by 15-minute intervals. For instance, if you usually use the bathroom every hour, add 15 minutes to that, and void every hour and 15 minutes. If you feel sudden urges and it’s not time to go yet, relax and squeeze your pelvic floor muscles. Try to get to the point where you use the bathroom every 3-4 hours without having any wetting accidents.Bladder retraining helps increase your bladder’s capacity to hold urine and decreases the amount of bathroom trips you take during the day. This method is great for those with urge incontinence or an overactive bladder. Again, you may choose to use a vibrating watch as a reminder.
These behavioral changes can take time, so be patient. If you don’t see any results after six weeks, contact your doctor. Since incontinence is a symptom of an underlying cause, you want to make sure that your bladder leakage problems are not due to more serious medical condition.