When it comes to the human body’s organs, the bladder tends to be overlooked.
Its job is to store liquid waste. It’s not as glamorous as the heart, lungs or skin. It’s not a powerhouse like the liver.
When our urinary health hits a speed bump, however, we take notice.
Urinary tract infections are common complaints but aren’t the only thing that can go wrong with urinary health—there’s incontinence, urinary retention, overactive bladder, interstitial cystitis and bladder cancer, to name a few.
While some bladder conditions are more likely as we age, they aren’t something we just have to put up with as we get older. Listen as host Mark Gomez, MD, and his guest, Kelly Jirschele, DO, board-certified urogynecologist, talk about the most common bladder problems and how to prevent and treat them.
Myths vs. Facts
“You can have sex with a UTI.” – Fact
A urinary tract infection doesn’t have to preclude you from doing anything.
“Blood in the urine, even without pain, should be evaluated by your physician.” – Fact
Blood without any reasonable explanation has be investigated. Don’t ignore it.
“To prevent a UTI, clean your vagina with soap and water.” – Myth and Fact
More myth than fact. Hygiene is important, but UTIs are rarely related to hygiene alone. You don’t need to aggressively clean your vagina to avoid infections. If you clean too aggressively, you could disrupt your body’s healthy microbiome balance.
“Only women can get UTIs.” – Myth
Women are more likely because of anatomy, but men can get UTIs too.
“Drinking cranberry juice or extract can prevent or treat a UTI.” – Perhaps
Theoretically, cranberry can affect bacteria’s ability to stick to the bladder walls, but it should not be used to prevent UTIs.
“Treatment options exist for both women and men that suffer from incontinence, regardless of age.” – Fact
Incontinence symptoms are different in women and men, but the overall management options are the same. Men and women both have a lot of options.
“Urinary retention is more common in men than in women and becomes more common as you become older.” – Fact
The most common cause of urinary retention is the prostate.
“You should see a doctor immediately if you are unable to pass any urine when your bladder feels full and painful.” – Fact
If you’re unable to urinate, it should be evaluated.
“I can blame menopause for causing my bladder pressure.” – Myth
During menopause a change in hormones occurs, and the drop in estrogen can impact overall vulva and vaginal wellness. You’re more likely to have symptoms as estrogen levels deplete.
“One bathroom trip during the night may be acceptable, but for two or more it is time for a checkup.” – Fact
It doesn’t hurt to be checked out by your doctor. But overnight trips to the bathroom also depend on how much fluid someone drinks at dinner and in the evening before bed.
“Kegels are for men too.” – Fact
Guys need to do their kegels too. They strengthen muscles and help maintain blood flow to those tissues.
“Pelvic floor physical therapy will help my interstitial cystitis.” – Fact
Pelvic floor physical therapy helps patients manage their symptoms, and it builds a robust home program so patients continue pelvic exercises long term.
“Smoking has been found to be the greatest risk factor for bladder cancer.” – Fact
According to the American Cancer Society, smokers are three times as likely to get bladder cancer than non-smokers. Smoking causes approximately half of all bladder cancer cases in men and women.
Listener healthy OH-YEAH!
“I attended a 12-step meeting.” – B.G.