9 Lifestyle Tips for a Healthy Bladder
It’s essential to keep your bladder healthy. Learn how smart lifestyle choices can help you minimize incontinence and possibly avoid other urological issues.
Learn how to keep your bladder healthy.
You may think that your bladder function is impacted only by the amount of fluids you drink and whether you’ve had caffeinated drinks like coffee or soda. But many lifestyle choices beyond fluid consumption impact bladder continence, urination urgency, and frequency. Dietary choices and staying hydrated, for example, can affect medical conditions like urinary tract infections (UTIs) or symptoms of interstitial cystitis.
The connection between a healthy bladder and positive lifestyle behaviors is well established. In fact, you may be surprised at what you can do every day to keep your bladder in great shape.
Lifestyle tips for bladder health
Generally, what’s good for your body overall is good for your urinary system. Regular exercise, smart choices, and sound bathroom practices can help ensure bladder health. Here are a few tips:
- Exercise regularly. You know that staying fit has many benefits, but did you know physical activity can actually help prevent bladder problems? Regular exercise can help you avoid constipation and body weight fluctuations — two factors that can irritate your bladder.
- Quit smoking. Smoking can increase your risk of getting bladder cancer . In fact, research has shown that fully half of all bladder cancer cases can be linked to smoking, with similar results for both men and women.
- Don’t wait to go to the bathroom. Holding your urine for an extended period can weaken your bladder muscles and possibly lead to infection. Go when you need to — aim for a frequency of every three to four hours.
- Empty your bladder fully when you go. Rushing urination may lead to a partially empty bladder. And not fully voiding your bladder can lead to bladder infections. Take your time and make sure you finish the job on each trip to the bathroom.
- Urinate after sex. After intercourse, there is a chance that bacteria may have entered the urethra. Both men and women should try and urinate after sex to help flush away any bacteria. In addition, women should wipe from front to back after urination to avoid the spread of bacteria.
- Avoid constipation. Chronic constipation can lead to frequent urination. Hard, compacted stool in your rectum can cause nerves that are shared with the bladder to be overactive. Adding high-fiber foods to your diet (e.g., whole grain, vegetables, and fruits), staying properly hydrated, and exercising regularly will help you avoid constipation.
- Aim to drink six to eight, 8-ounce glasses of water daily. A vital function of your urological system is to eliminate body waste through your urine. If you don’t drink enough water, you’re limiting your body’s capacity to get rid of waste. You’re also potentially exposing yourself to bacteria in your urinary tract and increasing the chances of bladder irritation.
- Don’t drink too much water all at once. Drinking excessive amounts of water may overwhelm your bladder and create a strong sense of urgency. It’s best to spread your water consumption throughout the day to help avoid sudden urges.
- Avoid bladder-irritating foods and beverages. Stay away or limit drinks like alcohol, citrus fruit juices, coffee, tea, milk, and carbonated beverages. Foods to cut back on or avoid include: chocolate, spicy foods, sugar and artificial sweeteners, tomatoes and tomato-based products, honey, vinegar, citrus fruits, and foods with high fructose corn syrup.
Practicing healthy fluid, diet, and lifestyle habits like these can keep your bladder functioning well and promote urinary health. Following these tips may also help you avoid incontinence and other issues. However, if you experience frequent incontinence, urine leakage, or other bladder-related conditions, be sure to contact your healthcare provider.