Urinary Incontinence in Women
Urinary Incontinence in Women
If you have urinary incontinence, you can take some steps
on your own that may stop or reduce the problem.
- Set a schedule of urinating every 2 to 4 hours, regardless
of whether you feel the need.
- Talk with your doctor about all prescription and nonprescription
medicines you take. Find out if any of them may be making your incontinence
- Use a bladder diary (What is a PDF document?) to keep track of your symptoms and any leaking of urine. Your diary can help you and your doctor find the best treatment for you.
- If you have trouble reaching the bathroom before you urinate,
try making a clearer, quicker path to the bathroom and wearing clothes
that are easily removed (such as those with elastic waistbands or Velcro
closures). Or keep a bedpan close to your bed or chair.
- Wear a tampon while doing activities such as jogging or dancing
to put a little pressure on your urethra and to temporarily slow or stop
- Avoid drinking too much or too little fluid. Too much can increase the need to urinate and increase incontinence. Too little
can cause dehydration.
Pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises can help women who have any type of urinary incontinence.1 These exercises are especially
useful for stress incontinence. But they may also help
weight often helps stress incontinence. Remember that
effective weight-loss programs depend on a combination of diet and exercise.
To learn more, see:
Sometimes making lifestyle changes can help with urge incontinence. Try to identify any foods that might
irritate your bladder—including citrus fruits, chocolate, tomatoes, vinegars,
dairy products, aspartame, and spicy foods—and cut back on them. Also, avoid
alcohol and caffeine.
If you smoke, try to quit. This may reduce coughing, which may reduce
your problem with incontinence. For more information, see the topic
Take steps to avoid constipation:
- Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fiber.
- Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water.
- Get some exercise every day. Try to do moderate activity at least 2½ hours a week. Or try to do vigorous activity at least 1¼ hours a week. It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
- Take a fiber supplement, such as Citrucel or Metamucil, every day if needed. Start with a small dose and very slowly increase the dose over a month or more.
- Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Having a daily routine may help. Take your time and don't strain when having a bowel movement.
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Avery L. Seifert, MD - Urology
September 11, 2012
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