Women with urinary incontinence know all about the discomfort of urinary leakage, frequency, and urge–but a lot of these same women also know the discomfort of constipation symptoms. Constipation symptoms such as straining, needing to push on the abdomen, or waiting an unusually long time on the toilet are all bad news for women with urinary incontinence. All these symptoms of constipation put a lot of pressure on the pelvic organs and muscles, which can worsen symptoms of urinary incontinence. If you have any of these constipation symptoms, then read on. We have solutions to help you avoid this problem, which may in turn relieve some of your urinary incontinence symptoms.
What is Constipation?
Before we can talk about how to avoid constipation, we first have to define constipation. Put simply, constipation includes difficulty having a bowel movement, or long periods of delay between bowel movements. What is considered a “normal” frequency for bowel movements varies from person to person, depending on age, lifestyle, and diet. Most medical experts consider bowel movements ranging from three per day to three per week as “normal.” Fewer bowel movements may constitute chronic constipation.
For women with urinary incontinence, the frequency of bowel movements is definitely important. In addition, what may be even more important is to avoid straining when having a bowel movement. Straining or pushing are symptoms of constipation, and both can further weaken pelvic muscles that are already stretched or damaged. Straining and pushing can also push pelvic organs that have “fallen” out of place further from their correct anatomical position. All of these may result in or worsen symptoms of women’s urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse.
How to Avoid Constipation
If you have symptoms of constipation, we have several solutions that can relieve these symptoms. These are simple lifestyle changes that you can easily integrate into your daily schedule, no matter how busy you may be.
- Fiber: Eat plenty of fruits or veggies. If you are not a fan of these, add a fiber supplement (gradually) to your daily regimen.
- Exercise: Moving your body will help your digestive system, since your food has to pass through about 20 feet of intestine.
- Hydrate: Water is essential to keeping your stools soft enough to pass easily. To figure out the right amount of water to drink.
- Medication: Check with your doctor whether any medications you take might be causing constipation (since many drugs can cause symptoms of constipation)
- Go with the Urge: Many women are “too busy” to go to the bathroom for a bowel movement when they feel the urge. This can cause your digestive system to shut down, leading to constipation. Avoid this by going to the bathroom immediately when you feel the urge for a bowel movement.
Mix Your Own Fiber Supplement
One of the recommendations we make to patients in our practice for maintaining bowel regularity is this homemade recipe for a fiber supplement. Combine the following ingredients and drink the resulting mixture immediately:
- 1/2 cup apple juice
- 1/4 cup freshly ground flaxseed
- 1/4 cup aloe vera juice
Pretty simple, right? Making any of the above listed lifestyle changes to help you avoid constipation symptoms is important to relieving women’s urinary incontinence. Because these lifestyle changes are so easy, they make a good trade-off if they help you stay “high and dry”!