Top Bladder Triggers
Top 10 Bladder Triggers -- and How to Turn Them Off
When your bladder isn't as reliable as you'd like, all sorts of day-to-day situations become unexpectedly stressful. Who wants to worry about embarrassing leaks every time you sit down to giggle over an episode of Modern Family? Here are the top ten bladder triggers, and ways to keep them in check.
1. Laughing or sneezing
Why leaks happen
The pelvic floor muscles that support the bladder and urethra are weakened. So when you laugh, the sphincter muscle at the juncture between the urethra and bladder can't hold as tightly as it should.
What to do
Schedule bathroom trips at regular, set intervals. Learning to follow a bathroom schedule is known as bladder training, and over time it can help your bladder relearn how not to release unexpectedly.
Get a referral to a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic floor strengthening. You can learn exercises to regain control over these muscles.
Practice double voiding. If incontinence seems to be related to your bladder not emptying completely, returning to the bathroom after waiting a few minutes can help eliminate residual urine.
Don't get caught out. If you haven't been to the bathroom in a while and someone launches into a joke, don't feel self-conscious about excusing yourself. It's OK to say, "Hold that thought" so you don't miss out on a good laugh.
2. Running, jumping, and exercise
Why leaks happen
"Exercise-induced urinary incontinence" is the term for stress incontinence that happens during physical exertion. When the pelvic floor muscles weaken, the muscles of the bladder and the urethra don't have the support they need to tighten fully and retain urine. Running, jumping, kicking, and any serious exertion can cause a release.
What to do
Don't be afraid to talk about it. It might come as a surprise to know that 30 to 40 percent of women have this problem -- it's not the rare little secret you think it is. Ask your doctor for help.
Sign up for pelvic floor therapy. A specialist will put you through a program of Kegel exercises designed to build up strength in the deep abdominal muscles that support the bladder.
Be vigilant about bathroom trips. Go just before a run or game, and don't be self-conscious about excusing yourself to use the bathroom again during a session.
Don't overhydrate. One eight-ounce glass of water before you exercise is plenty, experts say, but many women drink much more. Save the rest for during and after your training.
Wear a tampon. Inserting a tampon puts pressure on the urethra through the vaginal wall. There are also medical devices called pessaries that do much the same thing.