Managing urinary incontinence

Urinary Incontinence

By: Kate Cottrell 

Sometimes all it takes is lifting a heavy bag, or laughing too hard – involuntary loss of urine affects from 20 to 50 per cent of adult women at various points in their reproductive life cycle, from pregnancy to menopause.1 Stress incontinence is the most common – this type of urinary leakage results from pressure (stress) on the muscles, which may be weakened and unable to hold urine in. Potential contributors to weak pelvic floor muscles include pregnancy and childbirth, aging (in particular, menopause), chronic cough, and obesity.1,2

What you can do

  • If you smoke, involuntary loss of urine is just one more reason to quit – you may avoid or lose the smoker’s cough.3
  • Lose excess weight to reduce pressure on your bladder.3
  • Time your intake of fluids, especially those with caffeine or alcohol, which can increase urination.
  • Try Kegel exercises, in which you contract and relax your pelvic floor muscles repeatedly, to strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and the urinary sphincter. Aim to do a 15-minute exercise session, twice daily. Ask your doctor if you are doing them correctly, or use a feedback tool (e.g., a vaginal cone or balloon) to improve the benefits of your work out. A vaginal cone, for instance, is placed in the vagina above your pelvic floor muscles, which must be tightened to prevent the cone from slipping out.1

If stress incontinence is interfering with your work, hobbies or social life, talk to your doctor about how you are affected. A variety of treatment approaches is available beyond the recommended lifestyle changes.1


  1. Mayo Clinic. Stress incontinence Causes.
  2. Mayo Clinic. Stress incontinence Risk Factors.


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