January is Healthy Weight Month. A healthy weight is about so much more than just weight – it impacts many facets of your health. Did you know that your weight could be impacting the severity of your incontinence?
Many people are aware that excess weight or obesity can increase your risk of heart disease, high blood pressure and type 2 diabetes. In addition, it adds to the pressure on your knees. But most do not know that it can also increase the risk of incontinence.
Obesity is defined as having an excess of body fat to the point that it endangers your health. One way to calculate whether or not you are obese is measuring your body mass index (BMI). BMI combines your height and weight and can help determine if your weight is posing a danger to your health. You can calculate your BMI online using this tool.
Obesity can be caused by having an unhealthy diet, a sedentary lifestyle, or it can be genetic. The main recommendation for combating obesity is eating healthier and becoming more active. There are surgical options for curing obesity, but first it’s important to work on losing weight without surgical intervention.
Obesity contributes to urinary incontinence because the added weight in the abdomen puts pressure on the pelvic floor muscles. These muscles give us the ability to hold in urine and bowel movements, and when they are weakened, it causes incontinence. This extra pressure on the pelvic floor muscles can build up over time and lead to stress urinary incontinence, which is an involuntary urine leak while laughing, sneezing or exercising.
One way to train the pelvic floor muscles is Kegel exercises. Kegel exercises involve tightening the pelvic floor muscles, and they can be done anytime. First, squeeze the muscles you would use to hold in urine. Your belly and buttocks should not be moving when you squeeze. Hold the squeeze for 3-5 seconds, then release. Repeat this 10-15 times. Try to do 3 or more of these sessions per day. This can help to build up the strength of the pelvic floor muscles, which work to hold in urine.
Studies Linking Obesity and Incontinence
A study in the Journal of Urology found that, “obesity is a strong independent risk factor for prevalent urinary incontinence.” The study found a clear response effect of weight on urinary incontinence. Each 5-unit increase in body mass index associated with a 20% to 70% increase in the risk for urinary incontinence. Overall, being overweight is a factor in incontinence. The study recommended weight loss to help ease incontinence symptoms, and for overall improved health.
Weight loss is easy to say though, and harder to do in practice. But being overweight can lead to a variety of health issues, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, hypertension, sleep apnea, certain cancers, and incontinence. Take the first step – start with light exercise and cut out sugary sodas. For more tips on weight loss and the importance of healthy weight, click here.
If you experience symptoms of incontinence related to your weight, contact us. Or call our discreet, dedicated Medical Concierge at 800-771-1953.