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urine incontinence

urine incontinence

Women are most likely to develop urinary incontinence during pregnancy and after childbirth, or after the hormonal changes of menopause.

Whatever urinary incontinence looks like for you, it can be an inconvenient and embarrassing problem.

If you’re experiencing urinary incontinence, you’re not alone. Urinary incontinence affects millions of men and women of all ages, but there are ways to lessen its frequency and better manage the condition. It’s estimated that 2-3% of teenagers deal with urinary incontinence and that nearly 25% of women experience it for at least a year after childbirth. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases, urinary incontinence also affects 11-34% of older men.

Urinary incontinence is a common problem in which you lose control of your bladder and experience urine leakage. It may be a small leak, or your bladder may release a large amount of urine, and leaks can occur occasionally or more frequently.

There are six main types of urinary incontinence:

  1. Stress incontinence. This is when urine leaks because you put pressure on your bladder by laughing, sneezing, exercising, lifting something heavy, etc.
  2. Urge incontinence. With this type of incontinence, you experience a sudden, intense need to urinate followed by an uncontrollable loss of urine. You may have this need often, including during the night. Urge incontinence can be caused by something minor like an infection (temporary or transient incontinence) or a more serious condition like diabetes or a neurological disorder.
  3. Overflow incontinence. You have frequent urine loss or a continual dribble due to an inability to empty your bladder fully.
  4. Functional incontinence. You struggle to get to the toilet and prepare to urinate in time due to some type of physical limitation.
  5. Mixed incontinence. Some people experience multiple types of incontinence, most commonly stress and urge incontinence.
  6. Bedwetting. This is more common in children but can also affect adults.

The good news is that there are several ways to manage urinary incontinence. Your doctor may prescribe one or more of these approaches:

  • Pelvic muscle exercises. Called Kegels, these exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which are essential in bladder control.
  • Lifestyle modifications. Taking steps like maintaining a healthy weight, not smoking, being physically active, addressing constipation if it occurs, and drinking the right amounts of fluids at the right time can help minimize urine leakage.
  • Bladder training. This process involves your doctor developing a bathroom schedule for you based on your incontinence history and then gradually increasing the time between bathroom trips to train your bladder.
  • Medication. Different types of drugs can help with incontinence by preventing bladder spasms, blocking certain nerve signals, or shrinking the prostate in men.
  • Injections. A doctor can inject a so-called bulking agent into specific tissues to thicken them, enabling more complete sealing of the bladder.
  • Devices. Medical devices called catheters can help drain the bladder more completely as needed. There is also a device that a woman can insert in her vagina that pushes against the urethra to help minimize leaks.
  • Electrical stimulation. Stimulating specific nerves can modify bladder reflexes to reduce incontinence.
  • Surgery. A surgeon can insert a sling that keeps the bladder in its proper position and reduces leakage.


Here are some things you can do that can help you manage urinary incontinence and relieve its symptoms:
Do daily pelvic floor exercises.
These exercises strengthen the pelvic floor, which are the muscles that surround the bladder, vagina or penis, and back passage. You can feel the pelvic floor muscles when you try to stop the flow of your urine. To strengthen them, sit comfortably and squeeze the muscles 10-15 times in a row. Then, after you’re used to doing them, try holding each squeeze for a couple of seconds. You should start seeing results a few months after starting pelvic floor exercises.
Stop smoking.
Smokers cough and coughing puts strain on your pelvic floor muscles, which puts you at risk for incontinence.
Avoid high-impact exercises.
High-impact exercises like running, aerobics, and sit-ups put pressure on your pelvic floor muscles and can cause leaks. Instead, try exercises like pilates or yoga, which strengthen your core muscles without impact.
Avoid lifting.
Lifting stresses your pelvic floor muscles, so try to avoid it. When lifting is unavoidable, tighten your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift.
Lose excess weight.
Excess weight puts more pressure on your pelvic floor muscles, so the more you lose, the better. After losing weight, your symptoms may improve or go away completely.
Treat constipation immediately.
Straining during bowel movements weakens your pelvic floor muscles and makes urinary incontinence worse.
Limit caffeine.
Caffeine irritates the bladder and can make urinary incontinence worse. Coffee has a lot of caffeine, so switch to decaffeinated coffee or herbal teas.
Limit alcohol.
Alcohol is a diuretic, which makes you urinate more frequently. By cutting back, you can help incontinence symptoms.
Drink more water.
Try to have six to eight glasses of water a day, but no more unless your doctor recommends it. Some people dealing with urinary incontinence avoid drinking water, which reduces the bladder’s capacity and makes incontinence symptoms worse. Not drinking enough water can also cause constipation, which can cause urinary incontinence.
Eat the right foods.
Spicy and acidic foods, such as curries and citrus fruits, can irritate the bladder, making urinary incontinence symptoms worse.
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