This blog is part 4 of an 11 article series of 11 New Year’s resolutions that actually work and WILL improve your pelvic health. Get the full list of all 11 New Year’s resolutions HERE.
Did you know that smoking is one of the worst culprits when it comes to women’s urinary incontinence, especially those uncontrollable bladder spasms that cause embarrassing urine leakage!
If you smoke, you probably already know that it is one of the least-healthy activities you can do. For instance, women who smoke have four times the risk of developing bladder cancer. Not good. If you are a woman who smokes and suffers from bladder spasms and/or urine leakage, then you are definitely doing yourself a disservice.
The Link Between Smoking and Urine Leakage
Smoking is a risk factor for all three types of women’s urinary incontinence:
- urge (or overactive bladder)
With stress urinary incontinence, the pelvic floor muscles are too weak to hold urine in the bladder when abdominal pressure increases, such as when you cough or sneeze. If you smoke for a long period of time, chances are high that you will develop a chronic smoker’s cough. Each time you cough, you put immense downward pressure on your pelvic floor muscles. As time passes, this constant downward pressure will result in weakened pelvic floor muscles, and eventually urine leakage. Studies show that women who smoke are twice as likely to develop symptoms of stress urinary incontinence.
If you have urge urinary incontinence (also called overactive bladder), you experience frequent and sudden urges to urinate, whether or not you leak urine. These sudden urges are caused by bladder spasms which force urine out of your body when you least expect it. Smoking only worsens these bladder spasms since nicotine is a bladder irritant. More bladder spasms equal a greater frequency and urge to urinate.
With mixed urinary incontinence, you experience the symptoms of both stress and urge urinary incontinence. That means if you smoke, your symptoms will be doubly difficult to handle. In addition to bladder spasms from the nicotine, you can experience leakage every time you cough, sneeze, or exercise. More importantly, women who smoke are 28 percent more likely to develop some form of urinary incontinence!
The moral of this story should be crystal clear: if you want to avoid urine leakage, bladder spasms, and all other symptoms of urinary incontinence, stop smoking! If you feel you cannot stop smoking on your own, ask your doctor for help. Many smoking cessation methods are now available, and can provide the support you need to stop smoking today, and relieve your symptoms of urinary incontinence.