For most of us, using the bathroom is no big deal. However, for the millions of Americans who suffer from bladder issues, peeing can be a stressful experience. Problems like incontinence, leakage, and urgency are much more common than you think and can have a serious effect on your quality of life. And the worst part: many of these issues are significantly more prevalent in women.
If you’ve given birth or gone through menopause, your odds of experiencing urinary problems skyrocket. But it’s not like you’re going to make fertility decisions based on these risks, and you certainly can’t prevent aging. So what’s there to do? How can you promote bladder health and avoid the inconvenience of incontinence?
While there’s no silver bullet, there are several simple steps you can take to naturally help your bladder. The following are a proven list of ways to give your bladder the TLC it needs to function properly.
You Are What You Drink
When you eat, certain foods are more likely to upset your stomach—this is widely known. But did you know that there are also foods and drinks that can upset your bladder? These are known as “bladder irritants” and they can cause pain, urgency, and a ton of other problems with your urine. Certain people struggle more with certain foods, but some of the most common culprits are alcohol, soda, coffee, and chocolate. If you suffer from bladder issues, it could be worth avoiding these triggers, and see if you notice improvements.
Hydration Is Key
One of the absolute best things you can do for your bladder is drink a lot of water. Water keeps you hydrated, flushes bacteria, and has a ton of other positive benefits for your overall health. Next time you get thirsty, try reaching for that glass of water instead of a soda—your bladder will thank you.
Listen to Your Body
We all know the scenario: you’re in the middle of something important when you start to feel the urge to pee. It’s annoying, and maybe even a little embarrassing, but your body’s telling you to urinate for a reason, and ignoring it can have big effects on bladder health. That’s because as you hold in your pee, you’re actually weakening your bladder muscles, which can eventually lead to issues like incontinence or even kidney problems. So next time your bladder says you have to go, make sure you listen!
Not-So-Fun Urinary Tract Fact: Women are already way more likely to get UTIs than men. Holding in your pee increases this risk, as it creates fertile ground for bacteria to grow.
At some point, you’ve probably heard that feeling stressed can have a negative effect on certain aspects of your health. What you might not know, though, is that stress & anxiety can also create issues with your bladder. In fact, studies show that as stress increases, so do uncomfortable bladder issues like pain, urgency, and incontinence. Even worse: bladder issues are stressful, which can often create a vicious cycle of anxiousness and worsening symptoms.
So, how do you fix it? Totally eliminating stressors is probably impossible, but there’s a lot you can do to manage feelings of anxiousness. Meditation, breathing exercises, and even spending time with friends can relieve stress and help mitigate bladder issues. After all, self-care isn’t just mental—it can have physical benefits, too.
Boost Your Bladder Health
No matter how well you take care of yourself, there’s no way to totally ensure you’ll be protected from experiencing bladder issues. If you do suffer from urinary problems, though, there are still plenty of effective ways to minimize symptoms and live a happier, healthier life. One of the most promising ways to treat an ailing bladder is the use of supplements.
Specifically, studies have shown that natural ingredients like saw palmetto extract and pumpkin seed oil can help decrease urinary frequency and urgency, preventing some of those pesky trips to the bathroom. They also have been shown to decrease “nocturia,” which means having to get up in the middle of the night to urinate.
Don’t Be Afraid to See Your Doctor
Sometimes, a natural solution to bladder problems isn’t enough. If your bladder issues don’t change or get worse over time, it could be time to consult a healthcare professional. While this might seem embarrassing or inconvenient, keep in mind these struggles are common and it’s probably nothing your doctor hasn’t seen before. There are plenty of options available to you, and you shouldn’t have to suffer in silence. Your doctor can formulate a plan to help you get back on track to better urinary health.