Bladder Health

 

As we age, our muscles weaken and our pelvic floor is no exception. The topic of bladder health seems to fall under the list of taboo topics to talk about. Today we’re opening the discussion of incontinence. Incontinence is defined as, “lack of voluntary control over urination or defecation”. Statistics show that nearly 17% of women are currently suffering through bladder incontinence. If you're experience leakage of urine while pregnant, you are 50% more likely than someone without bladder incontinence to experience SUI (explained in a bit) later in life.

Unfortunately, the United States lacks screening for pelvic floor issues compared to other countries. For example, Germany and France that issue screenings have less individuals in nursing homes experiencing incontinence. The actions that we take now towards our bodies directly impact our futures. That being said, let’s dive into what is normal and NOT normal with your bladder.

Bladder Issues

Leaking urine, even if just a drop, is not a normal bodily function. There are three types of incontinence that include a multitude of issues. Those three issues being, stress, urgency, and mixed.

01. Stress Incontinence (SUI): Defined as leakage of urine when you cough, laugh, sneeze, or create pressure on our pelvic floor that the bladder cannot control.

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02. Urgency Incontinence (UI): A strong urge to void sensation followed by involuntary leakage of urine.

This can be strongly linked to a habitual problem. Busy schedules have got in the way of taking care of a function that is essential to our health. Often times urgency incontinence is called, "nursing bladder". With jam packed schedules, nurses often don't have the time to urinate. Therefore, they have ignored the urges that our stretch receptors are telling us...

"Hello lady, i think i need to tinkle soon" - Ignored. The bladder tries again: "HELLO lady, PLEASE go to the bathroom." - Ignored again. 

If you do this often enough overtime your bladder will become over stretched. It resembles a saggy balloon that has been blown up and deflated one too many times. The stretch receptors lose their ability to give us those proper signals. Soon the bladder will say, "Screw you for ignoring me lady, try to ignore THIS! {TINKLE!}"

03. Mixed Incontinence: The lovely combination of both stress and urgency incontinence.

Experiencing either SUI or UI can be frustrating and embarrassing. If you are struggling with bladder incontinence, you may highly benefit from bladder retraining. Fortunately, there is a lot that can be done besides medication or surgery.

What is considered normal?

  • Urine should flow easily without discomfort in a good, steady stream till the bladder is empty. Pushing or straining to empty your bladder shouldn't be necessary.
  •  It is normal to pass urine 5 to 7 times during a 24-hour period. As we get older, our bladder capacity can get smaller leaving us to pass urine more frequently. For an older adult, it is normal to pass urine up to 8 times a day and rise ONLY ONCE per night to void. 
  • Take your time when emptying your bladder. Don’t strain or push. Make sure you empty your bladder completely each time you pass urine. DO not rush the process.
  • Ignoring the urge for more than 4-5 hours between daytime voids may be convenient but not healthy for your bladder (aka not going enough- hello nurses, teachers, hard workers). 
  • Avoid going to the toilet “just in case” or more often than every 2 hours. It is usually not necessary to go when you feel the first urge. Try to go only when your bladder is full. Retraining the bladder and spacing your fluid intake throughout the day can improve urgency. 

Tips to Maintain Good Bladder Habits

  • Maintain good fluid intake and diet.
  • Try to drink 4-8 glasses of fluid per day (6 cups or more) unless otherwise advised by your doctor.
  •  Limit the amount of caffeine (coffee, cola, chocolate or tea) and citrus foods that you consume as these foods can be associated with increased sensation of urinary urgency and frequency.
  •  Limit the amount of alcohol you drink as it increases urine production and also makes it difficult for the brain to coordinate bladder control.
  • Avoid constipation if at all possible.
  • Take an active role in your pelvic floor health! Expecting and Empowered's Pregnancy Fitness Guide includes pelvic floor exercises for the duration or pregnancy! Prevention is KEY here in this department, so even if you haven't yet experienced incontinence it is very important to train these muscles! 

Tips for New Moms

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Breastfeeding moms need a lot more water then most.
  • Do NOT pee each time that your infant wakes up during the night (if you can help it). You will create a bad habit for your bladder. I know this is a hard one, but you'll be thanking yourself later in life when you can skip the Depends! 

Hope this helps in managing your bladder health. Happy urinating. -Krystle