7 Things Your Bladder Wishes You'd Stop Doing, According to Experts
For better overall health, listen to what your body is telling you.
An important part of the urinary system, your bladder works with your kidneys to remove waste from your blood. Though you may take your bladder health for granted in your youth, aging can increase your risk of related conditions, including bladder control issues, urinary retention, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and bladder cancer.
That's why it's so important to understand which habits help and hinder your bladder health—and why experts are shedding light on the mistakes which could be harmful. Read on to learn about seven things your bladder wishes you'd stop doing, from eating certain foods to a simple mistake you could be making after a romantic interlude.
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Eating spicy foods.
Paying attention to your diet can be hugely helpful in maintaining your bladder health. That's because certain foods and beverages are known to irritate the bladder and cause uncomfortable symptoms.
"Caffeinated beverages, alcohol, and acidic or spicy foods can all trigger bladder irritation," notes says K. Mitchell Naficy, MD, a board certified family physician and the president and medical director of GameDay Men's Health. "Other foods such as artificial sweeteners, chocolate, and citrus fruits can also lead to an increase in bladder symptoms," he adds.
According to the Urology Care Foundation, there are also several foods that may benefit your bladder. These include pears, bananas, winter squash, lean proteins, whole grains, nuts, eggs, and more.
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Doing high-impact exercises.
Getting regular physical activity can help prevent bladder problems by strengthening your pelvic muscles. However, if you already suffer from a bladder condition, certain high-impact exercises can exacerbate your discomfort, Naficy says.
"High-impact exercises like running, jumping, and aerobics can put excessive strain on the bladder, leading to urinary incontinence and other painful symptoms. Low-impact exercises such as walking and swimming can be helpful for the bladder," he says.
Smoking and drinking.
Using tobacco and drinking alcohol are known to aggravate several bladder conditions, including interstitial cystitis, urinary incontinence, overactive bladder (OAB), and more. Additionally, Naficy notes that smoking and drinking "can lead to bladder irritation and can also increase your risk of developing bladder cancer."
In fact, according to a 2015 study, smoking triples your risk of developing bladder cancer, compared with the risk of non-smokers. "Each puff of smoke exposes the body to some 60 different carcinogens, and many of these are identifiable in urine specimens from smokers," the study states. "Cigarette smoking is the major and modifiable risk factor for development of bladder cancer in men and women," the research team wrote.
Letting yourself get dehydrated.
Though some people who experience urinary leakage try to control their condition by limiting their water intake, Jennifer Self Spencer, PT, DPT, a physical therapist who specializes in pelvic health and the owner of Magic City Physical Therapy, warns that this is a major mistake. Being adequately hydrated is crucial to bladder health, she tells Best Life.
"Do not limit your overall fluid intake. Most people think that if they drink more fluids, they will urinate and leak more. The problem with this is that decreasing fluids will cause your urine to be more concentrated, which will irritate the lining of the bladder and cause you to feel more urgency and potentially experience more leakage," she explains.
"The general rule to follow is to try to consume at least 50 percent of your body weight in fluid ounces of liquid daily. Your daily intake of fluids should be primarily water. You should aim to have the color of your urine be a very pale yellow; a darker yellow urine color means you need to hydrate more," Spencer says.
Going to the bathroom too often—or not often enough.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, the average person urinates roughly seven times per day. If you urinate less frequently, you may be at higher risk of developing a UTI, bladder or kidney pain, urinary incontinence, or pelvic floor weakening.
That said, there's also a risk associated with going too frequently. "Do not empty your bladder 'just because,'" says Spencer. "When people have trouble with urinary leakage, they often start going to the bathroom more often to make sure their bladder is always empty. This practice can unfortunately lead to greater bladder urgency, frequency, and potentially more leakage," she explains.
Wiping back to front.
Practicing good hygiene is also essential to your bladder health. That's why Kim Langdon, MD, an OB-GYN and a medical advisor at Blue ABA Indiana emphasizes that women should always wipe front to back after using the restroom.
"Wiping back to front introduces bacteria from the rectum to the vagina and urethra and can lead to yeast infections," she explains.
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Not peeing after sex.
Similarly, Langdon says that it's important to always urinate after having sex—especially if you have any known bladder conditions. "If you are prone to UTIs, make sure to urinate right after sexual intercourse. This helps to flush bacteria out of the urethra, thereby helping to prevent a urinary tract infection," she says.
While both men and women should adopt this hygiene habit, women stand to benefit the most. "Women are more prone to UTIs than men simply because of their anatomy," explains the Cleveland Clinic. "In females, the urethra—the tube where urine comes out—is shorter and closer to the anus than in males. That makes it easier for germs to reach your urethra and travel into your bladder," their experts write.