What are ways to improve urinary incontinence?

Kristine A. Borrison, MD
OBGYN (Obstetrics & Gynecology)
Bladder leakage, also known as urinary incontinence, can be improved through a variety of methods. Watch gynecologist Kristine Borrison, MD, of Good Samaritan Hospital, describe how urinary incontinence is treated.
Here are some things you can do to improve urinary incontinence:
  • Diet: Sometimes the solution is as easy as changing your foods and drinks or learning to correctly exercise your pelvic floor muscles. Some foods and drinks irritate the bladder and cause urgency and frequency.
The effect of diet varies with each person, but some foods and drinks known to affect some people include: chocolate, caffeine, tea, cola, alcohol, tomatoes, citrus fruits and juices, spicy foods, and artificial sweeteners.

If you eliminate all of these for three days and re-introduce them one at a time, you may discover which ones cause your bladder symptoms or incontinence.
  • Exercise: Pelvic muscle exercises strengthen the support of the bladder and help reduce symptoms of stress, urge, and mixed urinary incontinence. It may be best to ask an expert for help to learn the correct ways to do these exercises. Although they are not difficult to perform, these exercises can be challenging to learn to do correctly.
Examine your lifestyle to see if there are things you can do to improve incontinence problems.

Nicotine from smoking is an irritant that can affect the bladder contractions and make them more frequent. If you have a chronic cough from smoking, this adds stress and can weaken bladder and pelvic floor muscle supports.

Being overweight adds extra stress to the tone of the pelvic floor muscles and affects their support of pelvic organs.

Lifting and high-impact exercises, without first developing the strength of your pelvic floor muscles, can increase pressure on bladder supports.

Generally, when there is chronic constipation, increase fiber and fluids. Straining to have a bowel movement pushes against the bladder’s pelvic floor muscle support. If needed, talk with your healthcare team about using a stool softener.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.