Five ways to reduce the risk of bladder leaks
Urinary incontinence impacts 1 in 3 women (including our founder Kelly!) - but it’s not something we should put up with. Here are five ways you can help to reduce the risk of bladder leaks.
If you’re struggling with little bladder leaks or incontinence, you might be tempted to reduce the amount of water you’re drinking each day - so you need to go to the toilet less. The thing is, it doesn’t really work like that! Limiting your fluid intake can make your issues worse by reducing your bladder’s capacity and concentrating your pee. Undiluted urine is salty urine - and this can irritate your bladder and increase your problems with incontinence.
You should aim to drink around 6-8 glasses of water a day. If you worry about needing the toilet overnight, try and make sure your last big glass is an hour or two before bedtime - but otherwise, make sure you’re drinking at regular intervals.
You also want to keep your fluid levels topped up because dehydration is also a recipe for constipation. Constipation is something you want to avoid if you’re struggling with incontinence because…
Straining for a poo can really take its toll on your pelvic floor muscles - and make incontinence worse. When you’re constipated, your colon can become enlarged and put pressure on your bladder - which is another way it can play a role in urinary incontinence.
The best way to avoid constipation is to make sure you have plenty of fibre in your diet. The best way to do that is to swap from refined, white carbohydrates to wholemeal or granary and to eat lots of vegetables with their skins on! Fruit, nuts and pulses are also great sources of fibre.
It can also be helpful to speak to a doctor, physio or pelvic health specialist who can advise you on the best way to sit when you got to the toilet.
Cut down on caffeine and alcohol
Whilst we definitely recommend drinking lots of water - there are some fluids you should try to avoid (and yes, they’re the fun ones, sadly!)
We all know that caffeine and alcohol aren’t great for our bodies - and they definitely aren’t helpful if you’re dealing with urinary incontinence of any kind. Studies have even found that people who consume high levels of caffeine are 70% more likely to have urinary incontinence.
Both caffeine and alcohol have what's known as a diuretic effect, which basically means it increases the amount of urine you make. Couple this with the fact that caffeine can make the muscles involved in peeing overactive, and it makes sense why drinking too much coffee or booze can make incontinence issues worse.
We’re not going to tell you to ditch your morning latte or Friday night glass of wine completely, but it’s worth thinking about how much and how regularly you’re consuming these fluids and if there are ways you can cut down.
Do your kegels
Of course, we couldn’t talk about reducing the risk of bladder leaks without talking about Kegels! Kegels are exercises that focus on strengthening your pelvic floor - the set of muscles that hold up everything in our pelvis (including our bladders!) Aside from helping to tackle incontinence, strengthening your pelvic floor can help with childbirth, your digestion and even your sex life!
Kegels are something you can do easily at home or even on the go. You simply squeeze as if you are trying to stop yourself from peeing, hold for a little moment and then release. Watch Women’s Health Physio Jennie Hughes share her top tips on Kegels here.
Aside from your Kegels, exercise in general is important for supporting your pelvic floor health. Staying active helps you stay strong and healthy - which will help your body function at its best.
If you’re dealing with bladder leakage, it’s important to find the right exercises for you that will nurture your pelvic floor rather than putting more pressure on it. Low-impact core strengthening exercises, like pilates, are great for pelvic floor health - whereas sit-ups can sometimes increase leakage. Likewise, intense HIIT workouts (with lots of jumping!) might not be great if you are struggling with incontinence but low-impact exercises like swimming and cycling are great.
We know that if you’re struggling with incontinence or leaks it can be hard to find the confidence to get back to the gym or go for that run - which is why we created our leak-free, VPL-free underwear! They can’t solve incontinence but they can give you the protection you need whilst you take steps towards a leak-free life - be that going to a pilates class or going to visit your physio.