What Lifestyle changes can treat SUI?
You may need to rely on absorbent pads daily or from time to time. Pads are also used when waiting to have surgery or during recovery from surgery. Absorbent pads come in different sizes and styles. Some are simply an adhesive placed in your underwear, others are pull-on briefs. These may work for you, or you may decide that they don't provide enough control.
For more information, on the absorbent products, visit our page on managing incontinence with products and devices.
Pelvic Floor Muscle Exercises (also called Kegel exercises)
Kegel exercises help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. You perform Kegels by contracting (squeezing) and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles many times each day. Pelvic floor muscles help support the bladder and other organs. Exercising these muscles can make them stronger and help reduce or eliminate your SUI symptoms. To get the most benefit, do these exercises every day.
To make sure you perform these exercises correctly, your healthcare provider may refer you to a physical therapist. This therapist is someone who specializes in strengthening pelvic muscles. Visit our pelvic floor muscle exercises web article to learn more.
Maintain Good Bowel Function
Constipation can make incontinence worse. Try to prevent constipation. Eat high fiber foods (fruit, beans and dark-colored vegetables) to encourage regular bowel movements. It helps to drink 6 to 8 glasses of water each day, and exercise daily.
Maintaining a Healthy Weight
People who are overweight or obese are more likely to develop SUI. Losing weight reduces the severity of SUI. Many people find that losing just 10 pounds can lead to fewer leaks. Your healthcare provider can help you set safe, realistic goals for weight loss.
A bladder diary is the starting point for bladder training. You record: (1) how much you drink; (2) when you urinate; and (3) when leaks occur. The diary allows you and your healthcare provider to see how often you urinate now and whether bladder training can help you. With bladder training, your healthcare provider may ask you to follow a fixed schedule to urinate. You may be asked to lengthen the time between bathroom visits by small amounts over time. It is important to try this only if your healthcare provider suggests it as some people have more urine leaks when they wait too long to go to the bathroom.
Quitting smoking is one of the most important things you can do for your health. A chronic cough from smoking may increase the frequency and severity of leaks. It may also cause added strain to the pelvic floor. When you quit smoking, coughing may decrease. This helps to reduce pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which reduces leaks.