Here is a great article from a great doctor. Dr. Muir is a specialist in Urogynecology and the Medical Director for the Pelvic Health and Continence Center.
“I laughed so hard I wet my pants”
“I can’t jump on a trampoline or I will leak.”
“Old age brings with it a return to diapers.”
The bladder is part of our body that we ignore for most of our lives…until something goes wrong. A guaranteed laugh in a movie is “bathroom humor.” The reason it is so funny is that so many people can relate!
Bladder problems can come in many varieties- from frequent infections/bladder pain to leaking urine (incontinence) and/or making frequent, urgent trips to the bathroom both day and night (overactive bladder). A common misconception this that bladder problems are a “normal” part of aging.
Bladder infections occur 50 times more frequently in women than in men. Women have an anatomic disadvantage by being born with a short urethra (the tube that drains the bladder). The bacteria that cause infections can easily traverse the short urethra and multiply in the bladder. Important health tips to avoid infection include:
1. Drink more water during the day. This serves to dilute and flush out the bacteria.
2. Avoid long periods of time without emptying your bladder (except at night)- Emptying the bladder every 3-4 hours helps to flush out the bacteria before they can invade in large quantity.
3. Empty your bladder after sex.
If the infections continue despite good bladder habits, see a specialist- like a urogynecologist or urologist- to discuss ways to prevent or manage your infections.
Urinary leakage or incontinence is very common! Some women feel like they are the only ones in the world with a leak with cough, laugh, sneeze, or urgency. Many women will avoid activities that lead to leakage (such as exercise, jumping on a trampoline, running after children or grandchildren). Approximately one third of all menstrual pads sold are used for incontinence (not to mention the pads specifically made for incontinence protection!). Women often put up with the leak and continue to take care of their children, job, aging parents, or aging spouse and never take time to take care of themselves. There is a lot that can be done to correct the leak- from physical therapy to medications to day surgery.
The bladder is something that we would like to ignore, however when it sends you hurrying to the bathroom several times during the day or night, a person begins to feel chained to the bathroom. Overactive bladder (characterized by needing to go to the bathroom all the time (day or night)) affects up to 1 in 3 adults in this country. When the bladder starts running your life, it can be very depressing! We are used to being in charge of the bladder, not the other way around. People with overactive bladder often know where every bathroom is. They will also start to avoid certain activities that make it difficult to get to the bathroom in a hurry such as travel, movies, even church. Again, there are many treatment options. Sometimes it is as simple as avoiding bladder irritants, such as caffeine (see a complete list here). Evaluation and treatment can release you from your chains!
Don’t let your bladder rob you of life! Take care of yourself so that you can enjoy each day to the fullest. To schedule an appointment to see one of our bladder specialists, contact us at the: Pelvic Health and Continence Center (832)-505-1600.