If anyone had told me 11 years ago that I'd be wetting myself regularly today, would I have pursued those Kegel exercises they taught us in childbirth class more assiduously?
Nah. Nobody who isn't already incontinent can picture themselves ever peeing their pants, much less doing anything to avert that fate. But physicians maintain that preemptive pelvic-floor exercises, particularly during and after pregnancy, can prevent some cases of incontinence from developing.
Besides the Kegels, there are other things we can do to keep our futures leak-free.
* Have a doctor check your meds. Some sedatives, diet pills, cold remedies and blood-pressure drugs can change the way your bladder behaves.
* Cut back on caffeine, carbonated drinks and alcohol. Diuretics like coffee make your bladder fill more quickly. Carbonated drinks, citrus fruits and juices, spicy foods, artificial sweeteners and alcohol can also trigger more-frequent voiding.
* Drink six to eight glasses of water a day. Drink much more, and you'll need frequent trips to the bathroom. Drink much less, and your urine may become concentrated, which can irritate the bladder and -- you got it -- increase your urge to purge.
William Steers suggests you take even stronger proactive steps if incontinence seems to run in your family: "If your mom and aunts leak, probably you shouldn't be a gymnast, you shouldn't be obese, and you should have C-sections" instead of vaginal deliveries.
-- Jennifer Huget