November is Bladder Health Month. Learn ways to support bladder health and make sure your urinary tract is functioning optimally.
November is Bladder Health Month
Although it is 2017, it is still often considered taboo to talk about bladder health. The bladder is a wonderful organ that facilitates the disposal of waste and toxins. We generally take it for granted. Most of the time it works well and we are fortunate to let it quietly do its business without a thought. But, when things aren’t right it can be embarrassing, painful, and dangerous.
How the Kidneys and Bladder Function
The kidneys remove toxins and waste from our blood. Every day, the kidneys filter approximately 150 liters of blood to produce up to 2 liters of urine. Urine consists of wastes and extra fluid. The bladder stores urine normally until we are in a good place to empty our bladders. As urine flows into the bladder, the muscular walls expand like a balloon. Sudden pressure from sneezing, coughing, or exercise may overcome the valve of the bladder, the urethra, and trigger urinary leakage.
According to the American Urogynecologic Society, these types of leaks are most common among women over 45 years old, or women who have given birth. This type of leakage associated with physical activity is called Stress Urinary Incontinence.
Unfortunately, we can also experience Overactive Bladder. It is helpful to understand that we are born with a bladder than empties well on its own and it takes most of us 3-7 years to learn to control our bladders. As we age, we become more prone to our bladders emptying outside our control. Overactive Bladder (OAB) is a complex condition that affects about 15 percent of women. It is costly, embarrassing, and frequently results in avoiding social activities due to fear of leakage.
If you feel an uncontrollable urge to empty your bladder or you have an urge to go that you cannot defer, you may need bladder health support. Fortunately, there are natural and easy methods to support bladder health and make sure your urinary tract is functioning optimally.
Ways to Maintain Bladder Health
There are many natural ways you can support optimal bladder health. Here are a few easy ways to get started today:
- Be active! Avoid fluid retention in your legs, which may contribute to the urge to urinate when you’re trying to sleep.
- Try Kegel exercises, which may help strengthen your urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles.
- Take your time to urinate completely to avoid risk of a urinary tract infection (UTI). Avoid hovering over the toilet if possible.
- Avoid eating spicy, salty, or sugary foods. For some people, these are irritants to the bladder.
- Cut down on drinking caffeinated or alcoholic beverages.
- Stop smoking. In addition to nicotine being a stimulant there are toxins in tobacco smoke that increase the risk of developing bladder cancer.
Don’t take bladder health for granted! Bladder issues can interrupt your days and greatly reduce your quality of life. At worst, when left untreated they can seriously jeopardize your overall health.
We know it can be uncomfortable to talk about, but addressing bladder issues early on can help you maintain a high quality of life. For more information about bladder health, talk with your doctor or visit Voices for Pelvic Floor Disorders.
Mikio Nihira, MD is a urogynecologist, board-certified in both Obstetrics/Gynecology and Female Pelvic Medicine and Reconstructive Surgery. To learn more, view Dr. Mikio Nihira’s profile.