Preventing Incontinence

Preventing Bladder Control Problems

No one is sure exactly how to prevent urinary incontinence; many of the risk factors are difficult or impossible to change (such as the genetic component, or the presence of other diseases which can lead to pelvic floor problems). However, there are certain things that can reduce the likelihood or severity of incontinence.

In general, avoid increasing pressure inside the abdomen and on the pelvic floor by:

  • Maintaining a normal weight or losing weight if overweight. Overweight women have a greater risk for developing incontinence. Carrying excess weight also worsens the severity of urinary incontinence.
  • Avoiding constipation and chronic straining during bowel movement, which can weaken the muscles and nerves and stretch the connective tissues of the pelvic floor, predisposing women to develop incontinence. A diet with plenty of fiber and fluids, as well as regular exercise is important for maintaining healthy bowel function. If constipation persists despite these measures, further evaluation and treatment is recommended.
  • Seeking medical attention to evaluate and treat a chronic cough.
  • Avoiding heavy lifting and learning how to lift safely by using leg and arm muscles.
  • Not smoking, or kicking the habit!
  • Avoiding repetitive strenuous activities.
  • Learning and performing pelvic floor muscle exercises (Kegel) regularly.