If you have urinary incontinence, you can take some steps on your own that may stop or reduce the problem.
- Set a schedule of urinating every 2 to 4 hours, regardless of whether you feel the need.
- Talk with your doctor about all prescription and nonprescription medicines you take. Find out if any of them may be making your incontinence worse.
- Use a bladder diary(What is a PDF document?) to keep track of your symptoms and any leaking of urine. Your diary can help you and your doctor find the best treatment for you.
- If you have trouble reaching the bathroom before you urinate, try making a clearer, quicker path to the bathroom and wearing clothes that are easily removed (such as those with elastic waistbands or Velcro closures). Or keep a bedpan close to your bed or chair.
- Wear a tampon while doing activities such as jogging or dancing to put a little pressure on your urethra and to temporarily slow or stop leakage.
- Avoid drinking too much or too little fluid. Too much can increase the need to urinate and increase incontinence. Too little can cause dehydration.
Pelvic floor (Kegel) exercises can help women who have any type of urinary incontinence.1 These exercises are especially useful for stress incontinence. But they may also help urge incontinence.
Losing weight often helps stress incontinence. Remember that effective weight-loss programs depend on a combination of diet and exercise.
To learn more, see:
- Weight Management.
- Healthy Eating.
Sometimes making lifestyle changes can help with urge incontinence. Try to identify any foods that might irritate your bladder-including citrus fruits, chocolate, tomatoes, vinegars, dairy products, aspartame, and spicy foods-and cut back on them. Also, avoid alcohol and caffeine.
If you smoke, try to quit. This may reduce coughing, which may reduce your problem with incontinence. For more information, see the topic Quitting Smoking.
Take steps to avoid constipation:
- Include fruits, vegetables, beans, and whole grains in your diet each day. These foods are high in fiber.
- Drink plenty of fluids, enough so that your urine is light yellow or clear like water.
- Get some exercise every day. Try to do moderate activity at least 2½ hours a week. Or try to do vigorous activity at least 1¼ hours a week. It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes or more throughout your day and week.
- Take a fiber supplement, such as Citrucel or Metamucil, every day if needed. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
- Schedule time each day for a bowel movement. Having a daily routine may help. Take your time and don't strain when having a bowel movement.