Tips for Managing Incontinence in Your Daily Life

Urinary incontinence is a symptom that patients may encounter before, during, or after cancer treatment. While it is important to discuss these symptoms with your physician for medical management, our team at Iris has compiled some tips to help you with your day-to-day routine.  

  • Pay attention to when you drink. Timing and the amount of fluids you drink can affect your ability to empty your bladder. Limit the amount you drink prior to exercise, sleep, or important outings.   

  • Pay attention to what you drink (or eat). Limit types of drinks that are known to irritate the bladder including alcohol, coffee, dairy, chocolate, soda, citrus, tea, vinegar, and drinks with high sugar content. Carbonated beverages can also irritate the bladder. 

    • Although limiting what you drink can be helpful, it is important to make sure you are not limiting fluids too much and are getting enough hydration.  

  • Perfect your bathroom habits. Make a habit of using the bathroom prior to sleep, public outings, or periods of increased activity.  

    • Be consistent. Consider scheduling bathroom breaks every 1-2 hours to avoid overfilling of the bladder. Scheduling two-bathroom breaks into your nighttime routine can help the bladder be fully empty prior to bed. 

    • Don’t rush. Take your time when using the restroom. Instead of getting up immediately, consider relaxing for a minute or two, to help you fully empty your bladder. 

    • Take a seat. If you typically stand to urinate, consider sitting at least once a day. Sitting to urinate can help relax the pelvic muscles which can assist in fully emptying the bladder. 

  • Quit smoking. Nicotine can be irritating to the bladder. In addition, coughing can cause leaking of urine.  

  • Do Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises are done by tightening the walls of the pelvic floor. These are the muscles that you would use to stop the flow of urine. 

  • Be prepared. Wear an absorbent pad inside your underwear or an incontinence brief if you are in a situation where a bathroom is not easily available, or in situations that can cause bladder leakage. It may also be a good idea to keep an extra pair of underwear or pants on hand in case of emergency.   

  • Be kind to yourself. Although this can be stressful and embarrassing, remember that your body is healing and adjusting, which can take time. Don’t beat yourself up when you have a setback or things don’t go as planned. 

  • Get support. It may be helpful to talk through the emotional challenges that go along with these side effects. Iris mental health therapists are here to support you.