When we talk about staying healthy, rarely do we think about our bladder and urinary tract health. Studies show that 60% of women in the US have contracted a UTI at least once, and 20% of them experience recurring problems.
Recent research shows that incontinence doesn't only affect the elderly and women who've had children — young, athletic women get it too. Stats from The National Association for Continence indicate that up to 40% of women have overactive bladder symptoms, and 1 in 4 women over the age of 18 have had involuntary leaks.
We've put together our top bladder health tips you can start practicing today.
1 Drink up!
If your bladder is overactive, you might be surprised to learn that drinking less water does not help reduce the frequency of urination. Withholding fluids turns your urine dark, concentrated, and acidic. Such urine irritates your bladder, which could increase your risk of leaking on the way to the bathroom.
Drinking enough water flushes out the urinary tract, reducing the chances of trapping bacteria that cause UTIs.
How much water should you drink? Divide your weight (lbs) in half. The result gives you the ounces of water to take every day. If you're exercising and sweating a lot, you might need more than that.
2 Go when you need to
Many people are guilty of holding in pee for long hours because of being too busy and detesting public restrooms. However, doing this continually can weaken your bladder muscles, which could cause urinary retention. This dreaded condition prevents you from fully emptying your bladder when you pee, and this makes you feel like peeing all the time. Also, the retained urine creates an ideal environment for infections to develop.
DON'T GO "JUST IN CASE" EITHER!
If you pee for less than 8 seconds, you probably didn't have to go at that time. Going to the bathroom before a long car trip makes sense. Making this a habit, however, trains your bladder to send urge signals too early instead of at regular capacity (about 2 cups). Your bladder muscles could also weaken over time.
Health professionals recommend using the bathroom at least once every 4 to 6 hours, and every 3 hours if you're prone to UTIs.
3 Cover, don't hover
Women tend to hover above the toilet seat while peeing, especially in public toilets. Unfortunately, this tenses your pelvic floor muscles, hindering the flow of urine, often requiring a forced push. If you do this daily, you can suffer from pelvic prolapse (weakened bladder).
The tension in the pelvic floor and core muscles may hinder the full emptying of your bladder.
To mitigate this, lower the seat cover, place a toilet paper liner on it, or sit on the seat itself. Studies on public bathroom hygiene show that germs spread from not washing hands, not from the toilet seat.
4 Pee before & after intercourse
Urinating before and after sex helps in flushing out any bacteria that could have found their way to the urethra, causing bladder infections.
5 Pick cotton panties
Silk and polyester underwear trap moisture and bacteria against the skin. Thongs look sexy, but they're the worst culprits! AS much as you can, choose cotton—even for leggings and hosiery.
6 Always wipe front to back
E. Coli bacteria that migrate to the urinary tract cause most UTIs.
7 Avoid douching
A few years ago, people advocated for douching for intense vaginal cleaning. However, douches upset the chemical balance of the vagina, increasing your susceptibility to numerous infections and, ironically, more prone to undesirable odors.
8 Forget about cranberry products
Cranberry is beneficial for your health, but popular bladder supplement brands don't have enough nutrients to make their product efficient. Manufacturers use the extract from the pulp, which contains little to no active phytonutrients.
When shopping, go for 100% natural supplements with no harsh chemicals or alcohol. Some brands are also gluten-free and vegan.
9 Use UTI tracker apps
If you've had a UTI before or have become more susceptible to bladder infections, tracker apps can save you a lot of trouble. When used regularly, such apps will point out lifestyle patterns that could be contributing to UTI symptoms. They also offer personalized tips for prevention.
10 Diet changes
Choose foods that contain lots of probiotics, especially after treating a UTI using antibiotics. Doing this restores the natural bacterial environment, preventing the harmful bacteria from causing another infection. Also, eat foods that are high in fiber. Fiber regulates digestion and alleviates constipation- the latter adds pressure on the bladder and increases urination urgency.
Caffeine reduces water and sodium absorption and increases blood flow to the kidneys, producing a diuretic effect. Too much caffeine can contribute to dehydration and increase your blood pressure, which can trigger an overactive bladder.
We recommend drinking a glass of water along with your cup of coffee. Also, don't add artificial sweeteners. These act as a diuretic, so use natural stevia-based products instead.
Go easy on the wine and other alcoholic drinks, too, since they also have a hefty diuretic effect.
Overly spicy and acidic foods can irritate sensitive bladders and perpetuate the symptoms of urinary tract infection.
This exercise mainly helps to manage stress urinary incontinence (involuntary leaks when you lift an object from the floor, sneeze, etc.). It can also help in dealing with an overactive bladder.
How to do it: Pretend that you're trying to stop the flow of urine. Pull in and squeeze those muscles. Hold the position for about 10 seconds and then release for 10 seconds. Do three or four sets of 10 contractions every day.
13 Consult your doctor
Studies show that only 1 out of 12 women with symptoms of incontinence or frequent UTIs seek treatment. Finding out the cause of the symptoms is the key to treating the problem, and your doctor knows how to best go about it.
The Sole Toscana Beauty Team