A young man sitting on a toilet struggling with bladder urgency and incontinence.

Lifestyle and Leakage: How to Limit Bladder Urgency and Incontinence

By Christopher Keith, M.D.

Have you ever had the sensation of needing to rush to the bathroom? Ever not make it in time? Here are a few lifestyle changes that may help.

Diet, Caffeine, and Alcohol

First, it is important to note that drinking more fluids leads to more urine production. Water is typically good for you, but too much will make you need to urinate more often. Drink a lot of fluid right before bed? You may find trips to the bathroom keep you from getting a restful night of sleep.

Second, caffeine—whether in soda, coffee, tea, or caffeine pills—will make your kidneys produce more urine, as well as make your bladder more irritable. Drink a lot of coffee and need to urinate all the time? It may be time to cut back or consider a switch to decaf. Alcohol, in particular beer, can also cause the same effect.

Some patients notice bladder irritation after eating spicy or acidic foods. It may be worth trying to tweak your diet to see if cutting out certain foods helps as well.

Regular Trips to the Restroom

Many individuals with urinary urgency and frequency already find themselves in the restroom often. However, if you are trying to hold it, or do not urinate frequently enough, you may be at higher risk of incontinence (leakage). Timed voiding—essentially urinating more often and on a schedule—can be a helpful practice.

Constipation will also make you need to urinate more often. The way this works is multifactorial, but an easy way to think about it is that your bladder and intestines must share space. If your intestines are full and bloated, that applies pressure on your bladder. If you don’t have a bowel movement every day or every other day, it would help to increase the fiber in your diet and/or use on an over-the-counter stool softener or laxative.


Similarly, if you’re carrying excess weight on your abdomen, this will transmit pressure to your bladder. Weight loss for anyone who is overweight or obese has been shown to be very helpful for urinary urgency, frequency, and incontinence (leakage).


We all have heard about the benefits of exercise, but did you know certain types of exercise can be helpful for your bladder? There are bladder-specific exercises that can improve urinary urgency, frequency, and leakage. Kegel exercises are probably the most well-known, and essentially involve clenching the muscles you use to “hold it”. Unless you have been diagnosed with interstitial cystitis, Kegel muscles, along with pelvic floor exercises, can be very helpful.

If you have tried the above—cutting back on caffeine and alcohol, losing weight, exercising, avoiding constipation—and are still having issues, it may be time to talk to a specialist about other options. At Georgia Urology, our experts can work to find solutions to reducing time spent inside the restroom. Make an appointment with a Georgia Urology physician by scheduling online or calling one of our office locations to start getting the relief you deserve.