It’s easy to let panic and fear overtake you when you’re wrestling with incontinence, but staying calm and following a clear plan will help. Try these strategies:
Go to the bathroom on a set schedule to try to retrain yourself. While you’re in there, relax—take the time to empty your bladder as much as possible; talk to your doctor about trying the approach called “double voiding”—use the toilet, get up, wash your hands and sit back down and go again.
When you get the urge to go, try waiting for a few moments to put it off, but know that holding it in for too long can backfire. Try this at home a number of times before doing this at work or anywhere else.
Maintain an active social life to discourage feelings of isolation, but plan ahead before you leave home. This includes mapping your route and knowing where bathrooms are along the way, wearing the right incontinence briefs or pads and having a change with you—of both clothes and incontinence products.
Always use the incontinence protection designed for your level of leakage. This isn’t like trying to squeeze into a size 8 dress when you’re a 14. You need the right amount of absorption to avoid accidents.
When going out, experts suggest using the toilet right before you leave home, as soon as you get to your destination and before you leave to return home—as well as whenever you get the urge.
Create a nighttime plan as well. Determine when to stop drinking beverages in the evening. Practice your Kegel exercises before bed and take a few moments to try a relaxation therapy to get a better night’s sleep—you don’t want to compound the stresses of incontinence with not sleep restfully as well.
About the pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is made up of the muscles, soft tissue and ligaments that work like a hammock to support the internal organs above it. You might not yet be aware of all the consequences of pelvic floor dysfunction or know that you can do something about it.
As you age, if you don’t keep pelvic floor muscles strong, they can atrophy, leading to various bladder, bowel and sexual problems. Top of the list? Urinary incontinence, be it overactive bladder, stress or urge incontinence. Other woes include interstitial cystitis (also known as “painful bladder syndrome,” which is usually triggered by a urinary tract infection); constipation and pain during or after a bowel movement; hip and low back pain; and pain and difficulty urinating as a result of prostatitis.
The issues that can be traced to pelvic floor dysfunction include incontinence, constipation, chronic urinary tract infections, nerve pain so severe that makes it impossible to sit, constipation and hip or back pain. Pelvic floor problems can also negatively impact your sex life.
Since the pelvic floor can be exercised, it makes sense that working with a physical therapy can help with pelvic floor issues. A PT skilled in pelvic pain treatment can also help you train your bladder and bowels to function better and even show you exercises to reduce pain from muscle imbalances and give you valuable coping advice. To find a physical therapist qualified to treat pelvic floor issues, go to http://www.pelvicpain.org/