Spring means it’s time to get outdoors and catch up with friends and family. But if you’ve ever experienced urinary incontinence — or a loss of bladder control — you know that urine leaks from laughing or sneezing can really put a damper on the fun. Well, you’re not alone: Urology Care Foundation estimates that millions of Americans are affected by urinary incontinence. Fortunately, you can get relief from bladder leaks by using some simple science-backed remedies. Want to enjoy seasonal gatherings and outings this year without worrying about leakage? Keep reading to learn four natural treatment tips.
1. Sprinkle on flaxseed to boost fiber intake.
Fiber-rich foods like beans and berries could help nix constipation, a surprising cause of bladder leaks. A 2017 study found women who were constipated were more likely to experience moderate to severe overactive bladder symptoms. Researchers theorize this irritating effect may be due to a swollen colon pressing on the bladder. To avoid this, aim to consume 25 to 30 grams of fiber a day. Even easier? Add 2 tablespoons of fiber-rich flaxseed to oatmeal or smoothies. The polyphenols in flaxseeds known as lignans have also been associated with nourishing muscles that help hold urine in.
2. Take a deep breath to relax the bladder area.
A 2012 small pilot study suggests that practicing daily mindfulness techniques, such as focusing on your breath, can help relax a spasming bladder and reduce incontinence episodes. To do: Choose one aspect of your breathing — air filling your lungs, for instance — and focus on that sensation for at least 30 seconds each day.
3. Give a squeeze to strengthen pelvic floor muscles.
Research published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that doing a 12-week pelvic floor muscle (PFM) training program helped participants strengthening those muscles — regardless of whether they completed one-on-one or group class sessions. The good news is, kegel exercises for your PFM are easy to complete at home. To do: Simply tighten your pelvic floor muscles — the ones you’d use to stop urination mid-stream — for five seconds, relax five seconds, then repeat.
4. Stretch your body to boost bladder control.
For added benefits in addition to kegels, spend 10 minutes practicing relaxed yoga poses and stretches daily, focusing especially on moves that tone the inner thighs, hips, and glutes. A 2020 study suggests that strengthening hip muscles in conjunction with PFM is beneficial for gaining bladder control when done for 20 exercise sessions over a 10-week period.
This content is not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always consult your physician before pursuing any treatment plan.
This article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.
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