Bladder Basics

Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you have to accept bladder problems.

If you are a woman, you are more likely to develop bladder problems than a man, including difficulty urinating, loss of bladder control, frequent urination, urinating at night and pelvic pain. While age can increase the chance of developing such symptoms, you can take steps to prevent or stop bladder issues.

Take Control

Bladder health can be affected by multiple factors, many of which are in your control. To help decrease your chance of developing bladder issues, try:

• Drinking six to eight glasses of fluid—preferably water—every day

• Drinking less alcohol and caffeine or avoiding them entirely

• Eating a healthier diet with foods high in fiber to lower your risk for developing constipation, which can apply pressure to the bladder and stop it from expanding properly

• Going to the bathroom as soon as you feel the urge instead of waiting until it’s convenient

• Maintaining a healthy weight for your height

• Not smoking

You can also prevent bladder issues by doing pelvic muscle exercises called Kegels. In order to work the correct muscles, pretend that you are trying to stop urine flow. You’ll know you’re working the correct muscles if you feel a “pulling” sensation. Hold these muscles tight for three seconds at a time and then release for three seconds. For maximum effect, try sets of 10 to 15 repetitions three times a day in different positions such as lying down, sitting or standing.

Ask for Help

If your urinary problems persist even after taking action, discuss the problem with your physician. Urinary problems are sometimes a sign of a serious condition like a bladder infection or bladder cancer, so seek help from a medical professional if the issue doesn’t improve or worsens.

Often, urinary incontinence and other bladder problems can be treated. Sometimes, a change in medication is all that’s needed for your bladder to function properly. In other cases, surgical intervention may offer a solution.

Sources: 

familydoctor.org, healthywomen.org, hhs.gov, nia.nih.gov, niddk.nih.gov, womenshealth.gov, urologyhealth.org, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, niddk.nih.gov

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