Welcome back – this week we’re going to be tackling a very practical issue. For men with urinary incontinence or at risk of urinary incontinence, it can be hard to know what to do to minimize risks and improve our bladder control. So this week, I’m going to share three surprising things that could be contributing to your incontinence – how many of these did you know about?
The first surprise – weightlifting can cause urinary incontinence. It seems that regular lifting of heavy weights or high-impact activities like jumping can strain the pelvic floor muscles. Fortunately, you don’t have to give up – just make sure you all work those pelvic floor muscles. These muscles can be strengthened with specific exercises called Kegel exercises. Click here to view our guide to Kegel exercises.
The second risk factor is one we’ve covered before – obesity. Again links in the description box below. Carrying extra body weight stretches the muscles that hold up the abdominal organs. These muscles, known as the pelvic floor, help close the urinary and anal sphincters. Over-stretching them compromises their ability to shut off the sphincters, which are critical for maintaining continence.
But not all hope is lost for those of you with a bit of a belly - research has shown losing 5 to 10 per cent of body weight reduces the incidence of urinary incontinence by around 70 per cent.
And this last one was a huge shock to me. It makes sense but I’d just never thought about it this way. Research has shown that regularly straining on the toilet has a similar impact on the pelvic floor to obesity.
In addition, a full, impacted bowel can press on the bladder and increase the risk of urinary urgency. A severely impacted bowel can also cause soiling that looks like diarrhoea but is actually faecal overflow. Wow – that was more than even I wanted to know!
As with most things, the best option is prevention – making sure you get adequate fibre and fluid can help And make sure you don’t “hold it” since responding to the urge to defecate quickly can help prevent muscle strain.
So that’s what we’ve got for today – three unexpected things that can cause urinary incontinence – and some helpful hints for what you can do to help your body. Do you know of something we missed – let us know in the comments or in an email.