Urinary incontinence, including overactive bladder, can be debilitating when left untreated. It is twice as prevalent in women as men. According to the National Association for Continence, an estimated 25 million American adults suffer from temporary or chronic urinary incontinence – 80% of them are women.
Elizabeth Kavaler, MD, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York and author of A Seat on the Aisle, Please! The Essential Guide to Urinary Tract Problems in Women, says that:
“Incontinence is the involuntary loss of urine, with two main kinds: stress incontinence and urge incontinence. Stress incontinence is when the leakage is related to increases in intra-abdominal pressure, such as coughing, laughing, and sneezing. Urge incontinence occurs when the leakage is precipitated by the urge to urinate.”
The bladder is a muscle located behind the uterus in women and the place where urine is temporarily stored. Its size depends on the amount of urine – no longer than 2-3 inches when empty and 5 inches in length when moderately full. When it’s time to release urine, the walls of the urinary bladder contract.
Sphincters are responsible for keeping the urine from leaking. These muscles are found around the opening of the bladder into the urethra, a small tube that carries urine from the bladder to outside the body during urination. You may notice a feeling that you need to urinate as the bladder continues to be filled with urine and reaches its limit. The brain signals the bladder muscles to tighten and the sphincter muscles to relax, thereby giving way for the urine to exit the bladder through the urethra. Normal urination happens when all the signals occur in the correct order.
Many individuals have a misconception about urinary incontinence which can greatly affect the way it is treated and managed.
Here Are The Most Common Myths About Incontinence
Urinary Incontinence Is A Normal Or Inevitable Part Of Aging, Especially In Older Women
In a survey conducted by Always Discreet, results revealed that half of the women admit bladder leaks which affect their personal confidence when they’re doing things they enjoy.
The truth is that aging does not cause incontinences. Instead, it is just one of the many risk factors like diabetes and obesity. In fact, only 1 out of three women ages 18 to 75 experience bladder leak issues.
Small Bladders Lead To Big Bladder Problems
Nerve damage, infection, or weak muscles can possibly be the reason behind the incontinence issue.
According to Dr. Kavaler, there is no such thing as a small bladder unless the person had cancer and had undergone surgery to reduce the size or unless they are neurologically impaired. He says:
“Most people have normal-size bladders that may seem small functionally but in reality are the same size as everyone else’s. Certain people may urinate often, which makes them feel like they have a small bladder, but it is not small.”
You Can Improve Urinary Incontinence By Drinking Less Fluid
In reality, limiting your water intake can only lead to dehydration and constipation. It will not help you control incontinence but instead it will only worsen bladder leaks. It’s better to simply drink small amounts throughout the day instead of chugging big glasses at once.
Your Bladder Can Shrink Over The Years
This is not true. In research conducted at the University of Pittsburgh, results showed that bladder and urethral function can decline throughout adult life however, bladder capacity rarely changes.
There Is No Treatment For Urinary Incontinence
Depending on the type of incontinence you have, different treatments are available. There are bladder training, exercises, changes in the types of fluids you drink and many more ways to help you with the problem.
It’s Fine To Wear Sanitary Napkins To Help With Bladder Leaks
When it comes to bladder leak protection, women immediately opt for menstrual pads. However, according to Missy Lavender, executive director of the Women’s Health Foundation:
“And wearing the wrong pad can mean moisture is not wicked away from one of the most sensitive areas of the body, causing rash and irritation.”
The truth is, there are more options these days that are not bulky or embarrassing.
Tips To Follow To Quickly And Naturally Treat Urinary Incontinence
- Get fit. Extra fat in your belly puts pressure on the bladder and the pelvic muscles. Restore your bladder control by shedding a few pounds if you are overweight.
- Drink adequate amounts of fluids in order to keep the bladder in proper function.
- Stop smoking. Aside from the health benefits of quitting, chronic coughing can put extra stress on the bladder.
- Cut out caffeine and turn to herbal teas or water. Caffeine can only irritate the bladder and make incontinence worse.
- Train your bladder by learning how to put off the need to rush to the nearest bathroom. You can try to delay urinating by 10 minutes and build up to 20 minutes. Then, increase the time so that you can comfortably use the restroom every four hours.
- Try Kegel exercises which involve flexing the same muscles you use to stop the urinary flow.