Leaky Bladder? You Can Fix It
“Don’t make me laugh any more or I’ll pee.”
The enormously popular and influential sitcom Friends made saying the word “pee” socially acceptable. It’s now used much more often than the old “number 1” or the stuffy “urinate.” What is still not socially acceptable is actually doing it accidentally, leaking into your clothing.
A vestige of Victorian times where any reference to bodily functions, sex organs and “doing it” (sexual intercourse) were cardinal sins, sex and any bodily function related to primary or secondary sex organs remains a grey area for public discussion.
With greater numbers of us living well beyond the threesacore and ten years–the U.S. will soon have one million citizens who have celebrated their 100th birthday–lots of us have experienced or will experience having urine leak into our underwear. For some, it will happen with a cough. With others, a sneeze, a cry or a good belly laugh. For many, it happens and they don’t even know how or when.
Will we soon be a culture of adult diaper wearers? Watching television commercials for products like Depends, especially the actors who wear them, make the prospect seem almost inviting.
But it’s not. Underwear was invented in the first place to prevent people from soiling their outer clothing, which got washed seldom in the case of clothing of the nobility. We don’t expect our underwear to stop “accidents” from showing. It is worn now more for comfort and body shaping than to prevent embarrassment.
Not many years ago it was expected that about half of all adults in their senior years would become senile. Now we know that senility is nothing more than the degradation of a brain that was not used enough for too many years. We also now know that urine leakage has more to do with weak sphincter muscles that act as valves for the bladder than that some people were born with weak bladders. Weak bladder muscles mean bladder leaks.
A majority of people will have a bladder problem at some point in their lives. Fortunately most are solvable, including bladder cancer and infections. Oddly, the bladder problem that takes longest to solve is leaking. The reason, simply, is that it takes someone who is working at it a few months to build up the muscles around the bladder sphincter (valve).
Don’t expect the makers of adult diapers to tell you how simple it is to strengthen those muscles. Their livelihood depends (sorry about that pun) on your not knowing the simple solution. You will be pleased to learn that you will not have to lift any kind of weights to strengthen your bladder muscles.
You will, however, have to squeeze the muscles, often, intensively and over several months, to strengthen them.
Which muscles? The answer is fairly simple, but it requires some explanation. The human bladder is designed to hold, comfortably, about 10 fluid ounces of liquid. Up to 10 ounces most people don’t feel the need to relieve themselves. Some people have smaller bladders, so they will need to visit the porcelain facilities more often. Everyone, at some point, feels their bladder is so full (it can stretch considerably, when required) that it’s a test of willpower just to hold on. When that feeling happens, remember which muscles you are squeezing because they are the ones you need to strengthen.
Just because you can hold back a full bladder doesn’t mean that those muscles are strong enough. By squeezing, you are contracting the muscles, doing something consciously to prevent leaking. You need to have those muscles strong enough that they prevent leaking even when you aren’t paying attention. Or when you sneeze, cough or laugh uproariously. That takes practice.
The best place and time to practise bladder muscle strengthening is when you are already sitting on the toilet. Squeeze those muscles (after you finish your other work there) for 10 seconds, then relax for 10 seconds. Squeeze for another 10, then relax for 10. Repeat this for at least one minute, preferably longer (unless overwhelming boredom sets in) every time you sit on the toilet.
If you don’t occupy the throne at least six times each day, you can do your squeezing exercises while driving to or from work, on the subway or while waiting in the doctor’s office. No one will notice, unless you squeeze the muscles in your face at the same time. Do that in the doctor’s office and you might be ushered in to see the doc faster.
There is nothing inevitable or incurable about bladder leakage. Now you know, if you have an unexpected leak, you have the routine to begin.
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’s Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to grow children who know how to control their own bodies without having to turn to drugs or medical devices for assistance when they have a problem.
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