Most women probably don’t spend too much time thinking about their bladder. That’s because the bladder is one of those body parts that doesn’t typically draw attention to itself unless there is an issue. Still, it is important to keep habits that promote good bladder health to avoid symptoms that may include painful urination and urinary incontinence (or bladder leakage).
Urinary incontinence can affect both men and women; however it is twice as common in women. This is due to basic anatomical differences between the genders, as well as changes that occur in a woman’s body as a result of pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause. While we know there isn’t much a woman can do in that regard, there are also a number of simple lifestyle changes and behaviors that can contribute to maintaining a healthy and happy bladder as the years go on.
The board-certified gynecologists here at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett recommend taking the following steps to encourage good bladder health:
Maintain a Healthy Weight. Eating right and maintaining a healthy, stable bodyweight is as important to your bladder health as it is to your overall physical condition. Carrying extra weight can put additional pressure on the bladder and lead to difficulties. So get regular exercise and try eating a healthy diet that is low in fat and full of fresh fruits and vegetables.
Beware of UTIs. Urinary tract infections (or UTIs) are something any woman should try to actively avoid. To help reduce your risk, make sure that you completely empty your bladder when you urinate. Any urine that remains in the bladder can create bacteria that lead to UTIs. We also strongly recommend fully emptying your bladder before and after sex to help minimize your risk.
Be Careful what you Put in Your Body. For women who are more prone to bladder issues, certain foods can trigger incontinence symptoms. These foods may include chocolate, caffeine, and very acidic foods like tomatoes or citrus fruits. To identify potential problem foods, we recommend eliminating one type of food every two to three weeks to see if your symptoms improve.
Additionally, we highly recommend resisting smoking (and nicotine in all other forms). Cigarette smokers are at least 3 times as likely to get bladder cancer as nonsmokers according the American Cancer Society. About half of all cases of bladder cancer in the US are caused by smoking.
Try Kegel Exercises. Performing Kegel exercises can help strengthen the bladder muscles linked to bladder control. Weakening of these muscles can strongly contribute to urinary incontinence. In order to ensure that you are doing your Kegel exercises the right way to maximize their impact, speak with your board-certified gynecologist.
We hope this was helpful. While it may not be a woman’s most pressing concern, preserving optimal bladder health can be a crucial component to maintaining the best-possible reproductive health and wellness. For more information or to request an appointment, please contact Dr. Kristine Gould at Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter & Google+ for more gynecological tips, news and updates.