Living with bladder weakness
The first thing to know is that you are not alone. One in four women and one in seven men experience bladder weakness.
If you are experiencing bladder weakness, make an appointment to see your doctor. Bladder weakness can interfere with your daily life and even lead to potential accidents. A medical examination can determine the cause of your bladder weakness and whether there is a more serious underlying cause. In some cases your doctor may be able to offer treatment helps to reduce or prevent your bladder weakness.
It is not always possible to prevent bladder weakness, but for many people the following self-help tips and lifestyle changes can relieve or reduce symptoms.
- Do daily pelvic floor exercises
The pelvic floor muscles act like a hammock to support your bladder and bowel. If they are overstretched or weak, it can lead to bladder weakness.
- Stop smoking
Coughing due to smoking is one of the ways in which you put strain on your pelvic floor muscles.
- Do the right exercises
High-impact exercise, such as jogging and aerobics, and sit-ups all put pressure on your pelvic floor muscles and can increase leaks. Rather replace these with core strengthening exercise such as pilates or yoga which are beneficial for stress incontinence.
- Avoid lifting
Lifting puts strain on your pelvic floor muscles so avoid it when you can. When you do need to lift something, tighten your pelvic floor muscles before and during lifting.
- Lose excess weight
In one study, women with high BMIs were twice as likely to experience symptoms as women with lower BMIs. Being overweight puts pressure on the bladder and weakens the pelvic floor muscles. Losing excess weight may significantly improve your symptoms.
- Treat constipation promptly
Straining to pass a stool weakens your pelvic floor muscles and makes bladder weakness worse. Never ignore the urge to go. If you have constipation, it may help to change your diet and lifestyle by eating more fibre and exercising.
- Cut down on caffeine
Caffeine irritates the bladder and can make bladder weakness worse.
- Cut down on alcohol
Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that your kidneys make more urine, so cutting down on alcoholic drinks can help your symptoms.
- Drink plenty of water
Drink up to 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day unless your doctor advises you otherwise. Many people with bladder weakness avoid drinking fluids, as they think it causes more problems. However, reducing your fluid intake makes bladder weakness worse, because it reduces your bladder’s capacity. Not drinking enough fluid can also cause constipation.
- Eat the right foods
Spicy and acidic foods can irritate the bladder and make leaks and other symptoms worse.
Healthline. Why Am I Experiencing Urinary Incontinence? [Online] 9 Feb 2022 Accessed 15 Mar 2022. Available from: https://www.healthline.com/health/urinary-incontinence#when-to-seek-help.
NHS. Health A to Z. Urinary Incontinence. 10 ways to stop leaks. [Online] 7 Nov 2019. Accessed 26 Mar 2023. Available from https://nhs.uk/conditions/urinary-incontinence/10-ways-to-stop-leaks/
Biid. 4 Tips On Living With Incontinence. [Online] 15 Aug 2020. Accessed 26 Mar 2023. Available from https://www.biid.org/tips-on-living-with-incontinence-youre-not-alone/