How Can I Help Myself?
Look After Your Body During Pregnancy
Extra weight and pregnancy hormones increase the risk of continence problems. Do your pelvic floor exercises during pregnancy and continue when post-natal.
Avoid Chronic Constipation
Straining when constipated puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, weakening them and increasing the risk of incontinence. Increasing your fluid intake and ensuring a healthy diet can help.
Avoid Heavy or Repeated Lifting
Heavy liftingincreases pressure in your abdomen which pushes down on your pelvic floor. Avoid heavy or repetitive lifting whenever you can. With any lifting, tighten your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift, and don’t hold your breath.
Moderate physical activity decreases the risk of incontinence. However, high-impact exercise, weight-lifting and very vigorous gym activities can overload your pelvic floor muscles, worsening leakage. Changing or modifying your exercise can help. Make strengthening the pelvic floor muscles an essential part of your exercise regime.
Avoid Being Overweight
Extra weight causes a continuous pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. This weakens them and then they are less able to deal with the extra pressure caused by any of the other activities listed above.
Both UUI and SUI increase as body mass index (BMI) increases.
Check Your Medications
Some medications can make it more difficult to control the bladder. Check your medication to see if bladder problems are listed as a side-effect.
Coughing, associated with smoking, puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, weakening them over time. In addition, nicotine is a bladder irritant and is strongly associated with OAB symptoms.
Loss of oestrogen at the menopause may weaken the pelvic floor muscles, tissues, and ligaments. This decreases the support around the urethra, contributing to urinary leakage. Many women find that HRT is useful. HRT can also be taken as a tablet (or cream) that is inserted in the vagina. Taken like this, it can directly help the tissues that need it.
Eat a balanced diet to ensure you are getting enough vitamins and minerals. A healthy diet helps to maintain the tissue strength in your pelvic floor and supports the normal workings of your urinary system and your gut.