10 Ways To Stop Leaks

NHS

For many people with urinary incontinence, the following self-help tips and lifestyle changes are enough to relieve symptoms.

Do daily pelvic floor exercises

Pelvic floor exercises can be effective at reducing leaks, but it's important to do them properly. Find out how to do pelvic floor exercises. You may have to do pelvic floor exercises for 3 months before you see any benefits.

Stop smoking

If you smoke, you put yourself at risk of incontinence, because coughing puts strain on your pelvic floor muscles.

Do the right exercises

High-impact exercise and sit-ups put pressure on your pelvic floor muscles and can increase leaks. To strengthen your pelvic floor to relieve symptoms, replace high-impact exercise, such as jogging and aerobics, with strengthening exercise, such as pilates. Pilates strengthens your core muscles, which is beneficial for stress incontinence.

Avoid lifting

Lifting puts strain on your pelvic floor muscles, so avoid it whenever you can. When you do need to lift something, such as picking up children or shopping bags, tighten your pelvic floor muscles before and during the lift.

Lose excess weight

Being overweight can weaken your pelvic floor muscles and cause incontinence because of the pressure of fatty tissue on your bladder. Your symptoms may improve, and could go away completely, if you lose any excess weight.

Treat constipation promptly

Straining to poo weakens your pelvic floor muscles and makes urinary incontinence worse. Never ignore the urge to poo. If you have constipation, it may help to change your diet and lifestyle.

Eating more fibre and exercising more can help. It may also help if you change the way you sit and use your muscles to empty your bowels. A specialist physiotherapist can advise you on this.

Cut down on caffeine

Caffeine irritates the bladder and can make incontinence worse. Coffee has the biggest effect, so stop drinking it or switch to decaffeinated coffee. Fizzy drinks, tea, green tea, energy drinks and hot chocolate also contain caffeine, so cut down on these too and replace them with water and herbal or fruit teas.

Cut down on alcohol

Alcohol is a diuretic, which makes you urinate more often. Cutting down may help incontinence symptoms.

Drink plenty of water

Drink 6 to 8 glasses of fluid a day (but no more) unless your doctor advises you otherwise. Many people with urinary incontinence avoid drinking fluids, as they feel it causes more problems. However, limiting your fluid intake makes incontinence worse, because it reduces your bladder's capacity. Not drinking enough fluid can also cause constipation or make it worse.

Eat the right foods

Avoid spicy and acidic foods, such as curries and citrus fruits, as they can irritate the bladder and make leaks and other incontinence symptoms worse.

Useful resources

This includes: Raising awareness of depression and Aware NI services at a wide range of...
Around one in five women will experience a mental health issue during pregnancy or within...
Affected by breast cancer? Join this group to share experiences and ask questions to...
Cancer Focus NI can provide a wide range of presentations to meet the needs of your...
The Menopause Project is an education and research project between Informing Choices NI...
This programme is a six week training programme for groups of adults and focuses on...
We all have good and bad days but what and when we eat can influence our mood, energy,...
Sometimes when faced with an unplanned or crisis pregnancy it is difficult to discuss it...
There are a number of health campaigns throughout the year to raise awareness of...
Cancer Focus NI, Keeping Well vans are mobile drop-in units which bring health checks,...
We are delighted to provide this FREE digital toolkit. Designed in partnership with the...

Articles & Videos

Helplines & Web Chats

Informing Choices NI - Helpline
Royal Osteoporosis Society - Helpline
Macmillan - Forum
Macmillan - Ask an expert
Women's Aid - Forum
Association for Post-Natal Illness Helpline
Women's Aid - Domestic abuse helpline