If you're wondering how to prevent incontinence as you get older, you're not alone. Recent research shows that urine leakage is an extremely common issue for women over 50. But experts say a lot of these women are addressing this problem the wrong way.
The November 2018 findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging showed that nearly half of women over 50 say they sometimes leak urine. Of 1,027 participants aged 50 to 80, a whopping 43 percent of the women in their 50s and early 60s said they had experienced urinary incontinence, while 51 percent of women aged 65 and over said they had experienced this issue.
"Urinary incontinence is a common condition that may not be routinely screened for in primary care, yet it can impact a woman's quality of life and health, and is usually treatable," said poll developer Carolyn Swenson, MD, in a press release. "It's not an inevitable part of aging and shouldn't be overlooked."
Unfortunately, researchers reported that two-thirds of women experiencing incontinence had never mentioned the problem to their doctor. Even more troublesome? The majority of them are trying to find ways to cope with the issue on their own, such as using pads, wearing darker clothing to hide accidents, and even limiting their fluid intake.
While these methods might temporarily disguise the issue, they're not going to help them go away. And of course, you should never try to limit a healthy fluid intake — bad things can happen if you don't drink enough water.
So what's the best way to prevent urinary incontinence? Experts say that kegel exercises — which involve squeezing and releasing the muscles of the pelvic floor — can be an effective treatment when done correctly and consistently. If you've never done them before, you can learn how to do kegels here. In some cases, experts say kegels can be especially effective if they're part of pelvic floor physical therapy with a specialized physical therapist.
If you're struggling with incontinence, talk to your doctor about what type of treatment might be best for you. Too many women these days are suffering from this often treatable problem — don't be one of them!