"Unfortunately, people [with incontinence] stop doing things they enjoy, like high-impact aerobics," says Roger Dmochowski, MD, a urologist and director of the Vanderbilt Continence Center in Nashville, Tenn.
About 12 million adults in the U.S. have some form of urinary incontinence. Women are affected more often than men, and while incontinence is more common in older people, it also affects younger people.
Among the most common types of urinary incontinence are stress incontinence, which can cause leaking urine when you laugh, cough, or sneeze, and urge incontinence, in which a sudden urge to urinate often makes it difficult to make it to the bathroom in time.
Urinary incontinence is an inconvenient,...
"The problem is, the leakage is variable, not predictable," he tells WebMD. "You can have a small amount of leakage one time and a huge leakage another. That's what makes people nuts."
Your Strategy for Handling Incontinence
Stick with black. Loose-fitting, dark-colored workout clothes work best if you have incontinence -- especially if you need to wear an incontinence pad.
Watch the fluids. If you have an incontinence problem, don't have any caffeinated drinks beforehand (sodas, coffee, tea). The caffeine acts as a diuretic -- which leads to leaks. It’s still important to stay hydrated when exercising by drinking water.
Forget spicy foods. Spicy foods like Mexican or Chinese fare will irritate your bladder, and worse the type of incontinence called urge incontinence. High-acid foods like cranberry juice, orange juice, and other citrus beverages also cause irritation and trigger incontinence problems. Try to minimize those foods -- and maximize veggies and other mild, high-fiber foods.
Use a tampon. For women, a tampon puts pressure on the urethra which prevents leaks, explains Vani Dandolu, MD, MPH, a urogynecologist with Temple University School of Medicine in Philadelphia. "It mainly helps with stress incontinence, where leaks happen with an activity," she tells WebMD.
Kegels will help. Exercises to strengthen the muscle that controls your bladder -- Kegel exercises -- will make a big difference in your little problem. Kegel exercises help with mild to moderate stress incontinence, which commonly occurs after having children. To do Kegels, contract the muscles that you would use to stop the flow of urine. Hold the contraction for three seconds and then relax. Do this eight to 10 times, at least three times a week. If you don’t notice improvement after three to four months, check with your doctor to see if it would help to see a physical therapist to make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly.