I am an African American female. I have a leaky bladder. I am only 40 years old so I am so embarrassed about this condition. I don’t want to take any medication for it so what are my other options? Leaky Bladder, Alabama
Dear Leaky Bladder:
Leaky Bladder is a condition called “overactive bladder” and you are not alone. Even at 40 years old there are tons of people today with this condition, where they have a sudden urgency to urinate that is frequent and cannot be controlled. These urgencies can sometimes lead to leakage or accidental wetting.
Many people are too embarrassed to talk about this, however, they plan their daily activities around being close to bathrooms to avoid urine leaks and accidents.
Work with your doctor and staying informed about your treatment is key to managing your symptoms. I never tell anyone to get on medications but remember that many times medications can be temporary.
1) Do kegel exercises to strengthen your muscles down there.
2) Get fit especially if you are overweight.
3) Work on training your bladder. The key is to learn how to put off the need to rush to the nearest bathroom. In the beginning, try to delay urinating by 10 minutes and build up to 20 minutes.
4) Take magnesium, an important mineral for proper muscle and nerve function, may also ease incontinent worries.
5) Take vitamin D which promotes calcium intake and good bone health. Research suggests that it can also reduce the risk of incontinence.
6) Quit smoking because nicotine can irritate the bladder.
7) Consider engaging in acupuncture.
8) Use hypnotherapy where the patient is put in a state of deep relaxation and heightened concentration. This state may help patients feel more in control of their bodies—in this case the bladder and muscle contractions.
9) Cut out caffeine, a diuretic, which can contribute to bladder irritation and stimulate muscle contractions, which can both cause incontinence.
10) Stay hydrated and drink enough liquids if you always have to go. Drinking enough water and other fluids is crucial in managing incontinence.
11) As a last resort get a pessary implant, which is a ring-like device that is inserted into the vagina to lift and support the vagina and bladder. It can help decrease stress incontinence, the type of incontinence associated with coughing or exercise.