Struggling with incontinence can often feel like an isolating and lonely problem. Women don’t talk about it or admit to it, rather it is swept under the rug or joked about in passing. 43% of women ages 50-64 struggle with leaking and 51% of women ages 65-80. Two-thirds of those women have not asked for advice from a healthcare provider for what to do about it. Without seeking advice you may have habits that are making your symptoms worse while you are trying to manage incontinence on your own. Here are the three most common mistakes we see women in their 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s make who are struggling with incontinence.
#1 Going “Just in Case”
Do you have the urge to go to the bathroom every time you pick up your keys to leave the house? If that is you, stop going the bathroom “just in case” everytime you leave your home. Going to the bathroom too often before your bladder is full can trigger your body to send your brain a signal that your bladder is full when it really isn’t. This can create urgency and urge incontinence. Also, break the habit of having your kids do this as well. Their little bladders are susceptible to the same conditioning and problems as adult bladders.
#2 Not Drinking Enough Fluids
You stop drinking or drink too little to avoid filling up your bladder to avoid leaks. Drinking too little causes the urine in your bladder to be extremely concentrated. Concentrated urine leads to bladder irritation, urge to go, and pain. Your urine will look dark yellow in color if it is concentrated and closer to light yellow or clear when it is diluted. I even check up on my children with this and ask, “Does your pee look closer to orange juice or lemonade?” If they say orange juice, their next stop is the kitchen to get a glass of water.
#3 Straining on the Toilet
You strain on the toilet. Your pelvic floor muscles should be completely relaxed when you urinate to completely empty your bladder. Leaving urine in your bladder can lead to irritation, infection, and a whole other host of problems. A cue for adults and always fun for little boys is that you should pee like a garden hose watering flowers (steady and constant) and not like a fireman putting out a wildfire (pushing hard for speed or distance).
If you are struggling with incontinence and not sure what to do next. Sign up below for our 15 min class on incontinence (the same one we give to our patients). This class will go over the types of incontinence, how to tell which one you have, habits to stop, and habits to start. Our goal is to get women back to activities they love leak free.