Incontinence is not always preventable. However, you may be able to decrease your risk of urinary incontinence with these steps:
- Maintain a healthy weight. By taking good care of yourself and keeping or getting your weight under control, you may be able to decrease your risk of urinary incontinence.
- Don't smoke. Get help in quitting if you do smoke.
- Practice Kegel exercises. Because pregnancy and childbirth can weaken the urinary sphincter and pelvic floor muscles, doctors may advise pregnant women to do Kegel exercises during pregnancy as a preventive measure.
- Avoid bladder irritants. Avoiding or limiting certain foods and drinks may help prevent or limit urinary incontinence. For example, if you know that drinking more than two cups of coffee makes you have to urinate uncontrollably, cutting back to one cup of coffee or forgoing caffeine may be all that you need to do.
- Eat more fiber. Including more fiber in your diet or taking fiber supplements can help prevent constipation, a risk factor for urinary incontinence. Your doctor may recommend that you drink more or less water as a preventive measure, depending on your bladder problem.
- Be active. Physical activity reduces your risk of developing incontinence. Results from the Nurses' Health Study show that women in that study who participated in moderate amounts of low-impact physical activity were less likely to experience urinary incontinence.
Uterine prolapse may not be something you can prevent. However, you may be able to decrease your risk of uterine prolapse if you:
- Maintain a healthy weight. By keeping or getting your weight under control, you may decrease your risk of uterine prolapse.
- Practice Kegel exercises. Because pregnancy and childbirth can weaken pelvic floor muscles and connective tissue, your doctor may recommend Kegel exercises ó special exercises in which you repeatedly squeeze and relax the muscles of your pelvic floor ó during pregnancy and afterward. To perform these exercises, tighten your pelvic muscles as if you're stopping your stream of urine. Hold for a count of five, relax and repeat. Do these exercises several times a day.
- Control coughing. Treat a chronic cough or bronchitis, and don't smoke.
Doctors cannot always explain why one person gets cancer and another doesnít. However, scientists have studied general patterns of cancer in the population to learn what things around us and what things we do in our lives may increase our chance of developing cancer.
Anything that increases a personís chance of developing a disease is called a risk factor; anything that decreases a personís chance of developing a disease is called a protective factor. Some of the risk factors for cancer can be avoided, but many cannot. For example, although you can choose to quit smoking, you cannot choose which genes you have inherited from your parents. Both smoking and inheriting specific genes could be considered risk factors for certain kinds of cancer, but only smoking can be avoided. Prevention means avoiding the risk factors and increasing the protective factors that can be controlled so that the chance of developing cancer decreases.
Although many risk factors can be avoided, it is important to keep in mind that avoiding risk factors does not guarantee that you will not get cancer. Also, most people with a particular risk factor for cancer do not actually get the disease. Some people are more sensitive than others are to factors that can cause cancer. We can help you with methods of preventing cancer that might be effective for you.