Preventing Female Urinary Incontinence

NYU Langone doctors recommend lifestyle changes and certain exercises to help prevent urinary incontinence or ease its symptoms. 

Maintain a Healthy Weight 

Being overweight or obese can put additional pressure on the pelvic floor muscles, which can lead to stress incontinence. It’s important to exercise and eat a diet low in sugar, fat, and calories to lose or maintain weight. Your doctor can refer you to NYU Langone’s Weight Management Program, where experts can help create a diet plan that’s right for you.

Treat a Chronic Cough

Chronic cough, a cough that lasts eight weeks or longer, can put pressure on the muscles of the pelvic floor and lead to stress incontinence. The most common causes of chronic cough are acid reflux, asthma, postnasal drip, and smoking. 

Your NYU Langone doctor may prescribe antihistamines for allergy-related postnasal drip, antacid medications for acid reflux, inhaled steroid medications for asthma, or cough suppressants to help quiet your cough in general. If you smoke, consider quitting, which can stop your chronic cough. 

Quit Smoking

Not only can smoking cause chronic cough, but it may also irritate your bladder, which can lead to urgency and stress incontinence. If you smoke, our experts urge you to take steps to quit. 

Your NYU Langone doctor may refer you to specialists at NYU Langone’s Tobacco Cessation Programs, which offer group or individual programs to help you quit. 

Exercise Your Pelvic Floor

Pelvic floor exercises help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor, which support the bladder and urethra and control the flow of urine. These are the muscles you use to “hold it in” when you have to urinate. 

NYU Langone doctors recommend daily Kegel exercises, in which you tighten and release pelvic floor muscles. Your doctor can teach you how to identify these muscles and perform the exercises correctly. He or she can refer you to physical therapists at NYU Langone’s Rusk Rehabilitation for additional support. 

Pelvic floor exercises are recommended for both stress and urgency incontinence.

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