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Bladder Health and the Holidays

Don’t let your bladder get in the way of enjoying the holidays

You know all too well, your bladder issues don’t stop because the dates on the calendar are marked joyous occasion. But be of good cheer, because there are steps you can take to hold on (to your bladder) and survive the holiday season.

From “Oh-Oh” to “Ho Ho Ho”

First, let’s talk overactive bladder (OAB). Basically, OAB is loss of bladder control, and one in four women over the age of 18 experience episodes of this involuntary leakage. There are two main types: Stress incontinence and Urge incontinence. Stress incontinence can happen when your pelvic floor muscles are weak, which puts pressure on the bladder and urethra to make them work harder. Actions that involve the pelvic floor muscles, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or physical activities, can make you leak urine. Urge incontinence is a fickle thing. You may feel a strong, sudden urge to urinate before you can get to a bathroom, and you leak a little. Some women get the urge to urinate more than eight times a day. However, when they do get to a bathroom, they don’t urinate much. Urge incontinence is more common in older women.

Reduce the likelihood of leakage:

    • Train your bladder. Urinate at regular intervals, go to the bathroom whether or not you feel the urge to go, and empty your bladder as much as you can each time. Bend forward to lightly press on your bladder and get every last bit out. Over time, add more time between visits. That way, your bladder learns to hold more urine before it gives notice that it needs to go again. This practice is also recommended for other bladder issues, including UTIs which we discuss below.
    • Keep your cool with Kegels. Even if you’re familiar with Kegel exercises, you can put them to new use in calming an overactive bladder. It’s a cinch when you clench your pelvic muscles!

Over the river and through the woods

Whether you go by plane, train, or automobile, travel plans can upset your routine. The most important thing is to know where “you can go”. Fortunately, there’s an app for that. Search on your mobile phone for free “restroom finder apps” and choose the one that works best for you. It’s unknown if Britain’s royal family uses a bathroom app, but they’ve passed down sage advice for generations: “Always go to the bathroom when you have a chance.” — King George V.

Another tip when traveling: bring along plenty of protection. Sanitary pads are not as reliable as incontinence pads or undergarments. If you’ve never worn them and you feel embarrassed to talk to the pharmacist, find an online OAB forum and ask for recommendations.

Love (and a UTI) is in the air

If you’re planning to spend time with that special someone during the holidays, bear in mind that intercourse is a major trigger for UTIs. Bacteria is pushed into the bladder during sex and outstays its welcome. Peeing before and after sex can help forestall a UTI by flushing the bacteria. So can taking ellura® as an effective UTI preventive.

Other tips:

  • Avoid tight-fitting undergarments. Moisture can build up more quickly and lead to bacterial overgrowth. Wearing underpants that are cotton or have a cotton liner can help also.
  • Do not douche! Hypoallergenic and unscented cleansing cloths are an alternative.
  • Watch the sweets. Sugary drinks (especially the alcohol-filled ones) can lead to dehydration which increases risk for UTIs and alcohol is a bladder irritant. How about inventing your own “mocktail” without the alcohol?
  • Go potluck. When you contribute your own bladder-friendly dish to the meal, you know there’s at least one item you can eat without worrying.
  • Flush out your system. Water, water and more water.

The holidays are stressful enough without the added worry of bladder concerns. We hope these suggestions will help make life easier and healthier for you and yours this holiday season.