Myths and misconceptions about bladder health abound, especially those surrounding leakage after sneezing, surgery and Kegels, the exercises designed to strengthen the pelvic-floor muscles. What follows are some of the most pervasive myths surrounding bladder health and the reason why they are just that — misconceptions — rather than truths.
If I start and stop my urine flow, I will build better bladder muscles.
"Kegels are a good idea, but they shouldn't be done during urination," says Roger Goldberg, M.D., director of urogynecological research at the Evanston Northwestern Healthcare in Evanston, Illinois. "Women who repeatedly stop and start their urine stream can develop overactive bladder."
A little leakage when I cough or sneeze is normal.
While it's true that leakage is common, "it's a misconception that bladder leakage is normal or inevitable," says Goldberg, who is also the author of Ever Since I Had My Baby: Understanding, Treating, and Preventing the Most Common Physical Aftereffects of Pregnancy and Childbirth. "At least 96 percent of women with stress incontinence can have their problem cured. It boils down to this — is it bothersome to the point where it affects your quality of life? If so, there are many options for treatment."
Bladder leakages only happen to elderly people.
"Stress incontinence affects nearly 50 percent of women who have had children by the age of 40," says Goldberg. Both stress incontinence and overactive bladder are highly pervasive, he notes, even in younger women.
If I do Kegels, I won't have any problems, even when older.
"Every woman can benefit from Kegels, as stronger pelvic floor muscles decrease the risk of bladder leakage," he says. "But for many women, Kegels are not enough to control the problem; they need a backup."
You should always go to the bathroom when you first feel the urge "to go" — who knows where the next clean bathroom might be?
"Going just in case is fine in certain situations, but for many women, doing this on a regular basis can increase the risk of overactive bladder, with its symptoms of urge, frequency, or accidents on the way to the bathroom," says Dr. Goldberg. "Spoiling your bladder this way can cause problems over the long run. It's better to void the normal amount, which is every three to four hours."
If I have a big problem with urinary incontinence, surgery is my best option.
"For some people, surgery is the best option, but it's not the best choice for everyone," Goldberg says. "It's best to start with an accurate diagnosis in order to rule out other causes of incontinence. In severe cases, however, surgery can be the best option, but it depends on the results of bladder testing."
I am the only woman in my 20s, 30s or 40s who has this problem.
As stated before, both stress incontinence and overactive bladder are highly pervasive, even in younger women, Goldberg notes.
Pelvic exercises are useful only if you have bladder issues.
"There are lots of reasons to do Kegels, including maintaining pelvic tone and pelvic health," he says. "In addition, strengthening the pelvic-floor muscles can improve sex and help you avoid pelvic prolapse [a condition where the pelvic organs drop out of position]."
Dollar General is not responsible for the content above and disclaims all liability therefrom. Dollar General does not sponsor, recommend or endorse any third party, product, service, or information provided on this site. All content, including but not limited to, health and wellness information provided herein, is for educational purposes only. It is provided "as is" and as such, the accuracy of same is not warranted in any way. Such content is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the diagnosis, treatment and advice of a medical professional. Such content does not cover all possible side effects of any new or different health or exercise program. Consult a medical professional for guidance before changing or undertaking a new health or exercise program. Advance consultation with a medical professional is particularly important if you are under eighteen (18) years old, pregnant, nursing, or have health problems. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website!
If you have dietary restrictions and/or allergies, always read the ingredient list carefully for all food products prior to consumption. Allergens and their derivatives can have various names and may be present in some food brands but not others. If the ingredient list is not available on the food product, check with the food manufacturer, or do not consume the product. If you have a food allergy, speak to your physician and/or a registered dietitian for a comprehensive list of foods and their derivatives to avoid prior to using any suggestions. Neither the author, Dollar General nor Triad Digital Media, LLC d/b/a Triad Retail Media assume any responsibility for errors, omissions or contrary interpretation of the subject matter herein.