Learning how to manage your incontinence will be a great relief. Indeed, urinary incontinence is the unintentional passing of urine and a common problem which affects millions of people around the world. There are a number of things which can cause this, such as pregnancy, vaginal birth, obesity, a family history of incontinence or ageing.
Although incontinence is inevitable for some, there are a number of things you can do to alleviate its symptoms and help manage it.
1. Lifestyle Changes to manage your incontinence
The first and probably most important thing you can do to help manage your urinary incontinence is to make some significant lifestyle changes. This is not only going to help your incontinence, but it will also help your overall health and quality of life.
If you’re a smoker and having issues with your incontinence, there’s a high chance that these two are linked. This is because smoking irritates the bladder and can cause frequent urination. Not only that, but smoking puts a strain on your pelvic floor muscles due to frequent coughing spasms.
Find out about NHS Smokefree support services here.
Another lifestyle change which will help manage your incontinence is to lose excess weight. This is because obesity increases the pressure of fatty tissue on your bladder, which inturn will weaken your pelvic floor muscles.
Once you begin to lose weight, your incontinence symptoms are likely to improve, and may even go away completely!
Reduce Caffeine Intake if you would like to manage your incontinence
Another lifestyle change you can make, although you may not want to hear it, is reducing caffeine intake. Just like smoking, caffeine irritates the bladder and can make incontinence symptoms worse.
Drinks like coffee, fizzy pop, energy drinks and hot chocolate all contain caffeine, so it is recommended that you reduce or cut these drinks completely, or instead, opt for decaffeinated alternatives.
Think About What You’re Eating
Foods that are spicy and acidic, such as curries and citrus fruits, should be cut as they can irritate your bladder and make leaks and other incontinence symptoms worse for you.
2. Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor
Pelvic floor training is an absolute must when trying to manage and reduce the symptoms of urinary incontinence. You can train it via a number of different exercises – some the most common being: kegels and lying bridges.
Kegel Exercises to manage your incontinence
Kegel exercises tighten the tissues in your pelvic floor which support the womb, uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. They are essentially squeeze and relaxation exercises and can be done anywhere!
To do a kegel, imagine trying to hold in wind and wee at the same time. That is the area you want to be clenching and contracting. Try this exercise for three seconds at a time, then relax for a count of three. For the best results, aim for at least 2 to 3 sessions of 10 to 15 repetitions each every day. You can do them whether you’re at work, walking the dog, or doing your daily errands.
Once you’ve got kegel exercises nailed, you can add kegel weights to your routine, just as you would with any other exercise at the gym! Kegel weights give your muscles an object to contract around, which enhances your performance and results.
Another popular exercise proven to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles is lying bridges.
To complete a lying bridge, lie down on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor. Begin by contracting your buttocks and pelvic floor to lift your glutes off the ground and hold this position for 8 seconds. Once the time is up, relax your muscles to lower yourself back to the ground. For the best results, aim to repeat this up to 10 times and complete a few times throughout the day.
3. Use Incontinence Protection
Although lifestyle changes and pelvic floor exercises are a great way to help improve the symptoms of urinary incontinence, they won’t magically improve it overnight. With that in mind, incontinence pads and other products will make your life easier in the meantime.
Fortunately, there is a wide variety of products and devices available for urinary incontinence. For example pads, pants and bed protection.
Absorbent incontinence pads are the most common product to manage urinary incontinence and use the same technology as nappies. The “hydrophobic” layer draws urine away from the surface of the product, ensuring the skin stays dry and un-irritated.
The only drawback of this type of product is that, because they are disposable, they can be expensive and will eventually end up in landfills, polluting our environment.
Reusable cloth incontinence pads are a great alternative to the traditional bulky pad as not only are they much more comfortable on your skin and better for the environment, they will also save you money in the long term as they eliminate the need to constantly repurchase disposable pads once you have run out.
If pads aren’t your thing, it’s worth considering incontinence pants. You can find two types of incontinence pants on the market: disposable ‘nappy style’ pants, or reusable washable underwear.
Disposable pants offer a simple, discreet way to manage incontinence, however reusable pants are much less bulky, more cost-effective in the long run, and much better for the environment.
For leaks at nighttime, there is a variety of incontinence bedding protection available, such as washable bed pads that sit on top of the mattress and soak up any overnight leaks. These are great for peace of mind when staying away from home.
4. Make a Toilet Break Schedule To Manage Your Urinary Incontinence
Last but not least, we recommend getting into the habit of emptying your bladder at the same time every day, almost like a schedule. This will help with predictability and alleviate the urgency to urinate at unexpected times. You can also train your bladder by increasing the amount of time between bathroom stops.
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Written by Kate on behalf of Cheeky Pants – the UK’s most trusted suppliers of reusable period and incontinence products.
This is a guest post written in collaboration with Kate. In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive compensation for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.