Restore Your Freedom

Disorders of the pelvic floor are common with sufferers experiencing a loss of freedom and control

Lifestyle and exercises

Your doctor or healthcare professional will assess your condition with you and help you decide what lifestyle and exercise options are right for you.

There are various treatments available to people who have bladder control problems. Your doctor or healthcare professional will assess your condition and assist in developing a treatment and management plan that is right for you.

These lifestyle changes and treatments are sometimes called conservative or containment therapies.

Diet

Certain fluids and foods bother some people and not others. It's important to identify which foods and liquids are a help or hindrance to you. An example is cranberry juice which some people find helps prevent urinary tract infections while for others it has no effect.

A healthcare professional, such as a dietitian, can advise you about dietary changes that might enhance your bladder health or alleviate symptoms.

Make sure you drink enough fluids as it's important to overall health. The NHMRC (National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia) recommend a daily intake of 1 to 2 litres of water (6 to 8 glasses) per day.

A healthcare professional, such as a dietitian, can advise you about dietary changes that might enhance your bladder health or alleviate symptoms.

Alcohol can be troublesome for some people because it's a diuretic (it causes more urine to be produced). Caffeine in coffee, tea and fizzy drinks can act as a stimulant to the bladder.

Some fruit juices, such as grapefruit juice, are also diuretics. Cranberry juice is thought to be gentler on the bladder.

Artificial sweeteners can potentially affect bladder and bowel control. They can irritate the bladder and make stool loose. They're found in low calorie foods and drinks.

Lifestyle

Smoking can exacerbate stress incontinence because it causes coughing, which places pressure on the abdomen.

Excessive weight can be problematic as it places pressure on the muscles and bladder.

Maintaining a healthy weight and ensuring you get regular exercise can help overall health and bladder function. Although the prospect of episodes of incontinence during exercising can dampen your enthusiasm, try not to give up on activity. Talk to a physiotherapist about what's best for you.

Regular movement and exercise can be especially important to those living in residential, nursing or care homes.

A healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or continence nurse, will guide you through exercise routines and keep track of your progress.

Pelvic floor exercises

Pelvic floor exercises, also known as Kegel exercises or pelvic muscle rehabilitation, can also help alleviate urinary incontinence, especially stress incontinence.

These exercises strengthen the pelvic area's muscle structure. They need to be done for at least 3 months to start having an effect.

A healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or continence nurse, will guide you through these routines and keep track of your progress.

Women can use vaginal cones to make their exercising more efficient and effective. These are weights that are inserted into the vagina. Like any other type of weight training, the more weight you can hold, the stronger your muscles become.

Biofeedback is a technique that measures your muscle contractions as you do them. This helps you identify when you are squeezing the right muscles and how much of a squeeze you are achieving. It can help ensure the exercises are done correctly.

There are different kinds of machines used to tell you about your muscle contractions as you're doing them. Some use sound and others visual cues (using screens) to tell you about your exercises.

Electrical stimulation is used for muscle strength development. Electrodes are put in the vagina or anus. They produce mild stimulation of the muscles with electrical impulses. That induces the muscles to contract and then relax. This helps tone the muscles. It can also help people with overactive bladder by reducing sensitivity.

Emotional reactions can cause you to tense up, especially in the abdomen. This, in turn, places pressure on the bowel and bladder.

Behavioural therapy

Establishing regular schedules for toilet visits is one part of behavioural therapy. It's called bladder training. This technique can help you create predictability in your habits.

Another aspect of bladder training is extending the period between your regular toilet times.

You need to do this therapy for at least 6 weeks to see results.

Reducing stress and anxiety about going to the toilet can also help. Emotional reactions can cause you to tense up, especially in the abdomen. This, in turn, places pressure on the bowel and bladder and can make you feel the need to go to the toilet.

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