Lifestyle tips for incontinence and prolapse
There are many lifestyle changes you can make to help improve your symptoms whilst you are having treatment or waiting for your appointment.
1. Increase your fluid intake to 1.5-2l a day and try to drink mainly water. Caffeine in tea and coffee, fizzy drinks, fruit juices and alcohol can all irritate your bladder, so try to cut down on these.
2. Have a good diet with plenty of fibre. Fibre helps improve bowel function and may help with constipation. The constant straining associated with constipation can put pressure on the pelvic floor and can weaken or strain them.
3. Stop smoking! Obviously, there are lots of health benefits linked with stopping smoking but a persistent cough can again cause the pelvic floor to weaken.
4. Go to the toilet correctly. Did you know there was a wrong way?! To avoid straining when going to the toilet for a number 2, you should sit with your feet on a footstool so your knees are slightly higher than your hips. Then lean forward to rest your elbows on your knees, allow your tummy to bulge out and relax your back passage. This position helps to relax your pelvic floor and sphincter muscles.
5. Don’t go to the toilet ‘just in case’. In a healthy bladder you will start to get a sensation of needing to go to the toilet when the bladder is half full. This gives you plenty of time to find a toilet. If you regularly go to the toilet before your brain receives these signals from your bladder, your bladder may become over sensitive and start giving messages that it is half full too early. This cycle will worsen as you go to the toilet more and more frequently with a less full bladder each time.
6. Maintain a good weight and exercise regularly. Obesity places extra pressure on the pelvic floor
7. Do your pelvic floor exercises three times a day, if you have been given them. At your assessment, the physiotherapist will give you an individualised pelvic floor programme to help improve the function, strength and endurance of your pelvic floor. These need to be done regularly in order to work. A small amount of people may have pelvic floor tightness which needs to be addressed before the exercises are started.