As they age, women begin to face some issues with respect to their bladder control. While a doctor’s opinion is recommended, there is no harm in learning about the body, especially the urinary bladder, which is an elastic organ that stores and empties urine.
Dr Rubina Shanawaz Z, senior consultant, obstetrics and uro gynaecology at Fortis La Femme Hospital, Richmond Road, Bengaluru, says paying attention to building healthy bladder habits can go a long way in preventing long-term bladder disturbances.
She lists eight such habits; read on.
1. Timed emptying of the bladder: We tend to avoid using the toilet till absolutely necessary. But conscious emptying of the bladder once in 2-3 hours avoids over distending it and precipitating retention of urine in the long run.
2. Do not delay the urge to urinate: Holding off urinating occasionally while travelling is acceptable, but regularly delaying relieving yourself can lead to disturbed urination patterns and urinary infections.
3. Relax while passing urine: This applies to both mentally and physically. If you try to pass urine in a rush and head out, you most likely will retain urine which might lead to urinary infections. Physical relaxation applies to being comfortably seated and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles so as to aid in complete emptying of the bladder.
4. Drink enough fluids: Make sure you are hydrating yourself with 10-12 glasses/2 ½ – 3 litres of fluids a day. Remember soup, juices are also counted as fluids as focusing only on water becomes difficult for most people.
5. Avoid caffeinated drinks: Increased consumption of caffeinated beverages such as tea, coffee and cola leads to an increased frequency of urination.
6. Stop smoking: Smoking leads to vasoconstriction, placing you at an increased risk of urinary urgency due to bladder irritation.
7. Practise Kegel exercises: Pelvic floor exercises — or Kegel — mimic stopping urine midstream (though the actual exercise needs to be done on an empty bladder) and holding for 3-5 counts and then relaxing for 3-5 counts. This is repeated for 10-15 times twice a day to strengthen the pelvic floor which supports the urinary bladder. Regular practice will go a long way in preventing urinary leaks.
8. Avoid triggers which increase intra-abdominal pressure: Being overweight,chronic cough and chronic constipation exert increased pressure on the pelvic floor, leading to laxity of the supporting muscle and urine leak. Maintaining a healthy weight and avoiding chronic cough and constipation will ease the pressure on the pelvic floor.