Urinary incontinence isn’t a disease on its own, but it’s a symptom of other problems. Though you may not be able to ensure you’ll never get it, you can lower your risk of some of the conditions that cause it. If you do have it, you can also do some things that might help reduce your symptoms.
Take Care of Your Prostate
Prostate cancer, prostate surgery, and an enlarged prostate are all conditions that can lead to urinary incontinence in men. Keep your prostate health in check to help lower your risk of these problems. In addition to keeping fit and healthy, be sure to:
- Drink plenty of water
- Go to the bathroom regularly
- Get regular prostate checks at the doctor
Smoking can cause all kinds of health issues, including bladder problems. Smoking increases coughing, which can be a cause of stress incontinence. Smoking also increases your risk of getting bladder cancer. If you smoke, talk to your doctor about effective ways you can quit.
Carrying around extra pounds puts pressure on your bladder and the muscles around it. As you get older, these muscles get weaker, so you don’t want to speed that process up by making them hold excess weight. These muscles need their tone and strength to hold urine in -- especially when you cough, sneeze, or exercise.
Exercise Your Pelvic Floor
Regular exercise can help your overall health and muscle tone. But you should also tone the muscles that help hold your urine in, too. Kegel exercises work to strengthen your pelvic floor -- the muscles that hold your bladder and bowels.
To do Kegel exercises, choose a time you’re not using the bathroom and concentrate on squeezing the muscles that stop your urine flow. Hold the squeeze for 3 seconds, then release. (Make sure your stomach muscles aren’t tightening as you do this.) Do this three times a day, gradually increasing your hold time until you get up to 10 seconds at a time.
Fill Up on Fiber
Constipation, or hard stool stuck in your rectum, can block urine from coming out of your bladder. To keep your bowel movements soft and regular, be sure you’re eating plenty of fiber every day. Good sources of fiber include fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans.
Cut Back on Caffeine and Alcohol
Certain foods and drinks can irritate your bladder. Both caffeine and alcohol are diuretics. They increase the amount of urine that fills up your bladder. Drinking too much of either can keep you running for the bathroom -- which is what you’re trying to avoid.
Keep Good Bladder Habits
Train your bladder to work the way you want it to. A few ways you can practice good bladder health include:
- Go as soon as you feel the urge
- Don’t rush yourself when you pee -- be sure you empty your bladder fully
- Try double-voiding: after you finish urinating, wait a beat, and then try to go one more time
- Gently squeeze the base of your penis after you urinate and work your way to the tip, to get all the urine out of your urethra
You can also keep a bladder diary. Write down everything you eat and drink for one week, along with your bathroom habits. This can show you patterns in your urine output and give you better insight into what might trigger your leaks.