Maybe it’s as minor as a leak when you sneeze.
Or maybe it’s as major as waking up in the middle of the night needing to change the sheets.
Either way, know that you’re not alone.
Since 2011, about 33 million Americans have been dealing with a leaky bladder.
That’s only so much comfort, though. If your leaky bladder is just an annoyance – or a source of embarrassment – it’s not something you want to live with.
What Exactly are We Talking About?
The good news is that a leaky bladder isn’t necessarily a cause for alarm. Often, simple changes in your body caused by aging can increase your risk of those leaks and dribbles.
You should talk to your doctor if you are concerned, of course, or if bladder changes have come on quickly.
Generally, though, leaky bladders usually fall into one of four major categories:
- urinary urgency (inability to postpone urination)
- frequency (having to go at least eight times a day)
- urge incontinence (leakage of urine)
- nocturia (too many night-time trips to the bathroom)
If any of these sound familiar, read on to learn four ways to help a leaky bladder.
1. Kegel exercises. These exercises, commonly known as “Kegels” help strengthen the floor of your pelvis, which helps decrease leaks. Plus, they’re easy to do and, unlike most exercises, can be done anywhere without anyone even knowing. Simply contract the muscles you use to stop the flow of urination. Hold for three seconds then relax. Make sure you aren’t contracting your thigh or stomach muscles, just the muscles in your pelvis. Repeat 10-15 times, three times per day. Add a second every week until you are holding the contraction for ten seconds at a time. Note: While you are using the muscles you would use to stop the flow of urination, you should not do Kegels while you’re urinating. And men, in case you think Kegels are only for women, think again. You can benefit from Kegels too. Follow the same instructions to help with your leaky bladder as well!
2. Avoid artificial sweeteners. Add leaky bladder to the many reasons to rethink using artificial sweeteners. Research indicates that they may increase both how badly you need to go and how often you feel the need to go. In this context, it would seem better to just drink a beverage with sugar in it. Try switching to water or seltzer for an even healthier option.
3. Limit caffeine. Caffeine can be problematic on a couple levels. First, it’s a stimulant – only that doesn’t just mean for your brain. That means your muscles too, including your bladder muscle, so it gets overactive. But then caffeine is also a diuretic, which means it makes you have to urinate more often. If you’re dealing with leaky bladder, it’s best to limit your caffeine, in any form.
4. Lose weight. It seems that, no matter the health concern, it often comes down to maintaining a healthy weight – and leaky bladder is no different. The more weight you’re carrying, the more pressure it puts on every organ and joint in your body, including your bladder. The more pressure on your bladder, the more urgent the need to go becomes. If you maintain a healthy weight, you reduce the pressure – and the urgency.
A leaky bladder is, unfortunately, often part of aging. But it doesn’t have to be. Not with a little effort on your part – and a boost from these four tips!