Across the globe (including South Africa)
approximately 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 10 men
suffer from bladder incontinence at some stage of their life!
It’s not just you!
We at Smartunderwear recently surveyed 766 people with bladder leaks, and 90% of these people said that incontinence caused embarrassment, loss of independence and/or decreased confidence. This is very worrying, as these feelings can start affecting daily life and mental health. The Journal of Medical Research (May 2020) published an article that reviewed 12 articles (which included a total of 31 462 people), and they found a link between incontinence and depression. That is why it must not be ignored! The good news is that for many people there is help! For something this common we need to be less awkward about it. We need to talk about bladder leaks, get appropriate help, use the correct products, and not let it get in the way of living a full and happy life.
Here is what you must do:
Talk about it!
Remember you are not alone! Having bladder leaks can be lonely, but it doesn’t have to be. Our research tells us that more than 200 million people worldwide are affected. Too many people are too embarrassed to talk about it and suffer in silence and shame. Talk to a friend, spouse, partner, sister, brother, doctor, or join an online support community. Talking about it with someone you trust lessens the burden and starts the process of getting help. It’s the first step!
Speak to your doctor
This is an excellent first step or if you have tried everything else! Try to see a doctor/physio/nurse that specializes in incontinence- they will be able to discuss medical treatment options available, including medications, surgery, and exercise programs.
Types of incontinence: There are many different types of incontinence, and each has specific treatment option. Know which you have, this will greatly increase the chances that your management plan will work.
Bladder Irritants: Get the list. Know the list. Test the list! There are known foods and drinks that irritate the bladder and make leaks worse. Not everyone is affected by the same thing in the same way, so it’s best to test! When you know what to avoid, then the only challenge is to actually avoid it! (Coffee… chocolate…!)
How much fluid? Too much is bad (increased bladder volume), too little is bad (very concentrated urine). Take in the right amount of fluid and all is well!
Exercise: Get fit, get active! General strength and fitness are important, but if bladder leaks are due to a weakened pelvic floor, doing specific targeted exercises will greatly assist with bladder control.
Health and lifestyle: Body weight, smoking, and healthy diet have all been linked to incontinence! Do any of these need attention in your life?
Get a good absorbent product!
The treatment and management plans for incontinence can occasionally treat incontinence completely, but in many cases, it will just lessen the symptoms. It is therefore especially important to have an absorbent product that you trust to keep you clean and dry and prevent leaks! The choice of product available to you will depend on your preference and how much you leak.
These are easy to find and come in a wide range of absorbency options. The disadvantages of disposable products include their effect on our environment, their comfort and accumulative cost of purchasing them.
Absorbent, washable “regular” underwear (our personal favorite!)
These are underwear with a built-in absorbent pad that prevent leaks, are better for the environment, save money and are comfortable to wear. Most washable underwear is designed for bladder leaks, and not full bladder or bowel incontinence.
Follow the 3 steps and address the problem of bladder leaks before it becomes an even bigger problem!
If you would like more detailed information on bladder leaks, we are offering our complete guide to stress incontinence free to YEI readers!
In this guide we cover:
Our anatomy (do you know what your pelvic floor is?!)
The types of incontinence
The list of bladder irritants
Medical and surgical treatment options
A bladder diary
This is not just a guide, it’s an opportunity to take control of your leaks, get your confidence back and do what you want to do!
Bladder leaks may not be normal, but they certainly are common! Get help today so that you can start managing it and get your confidence back!
Article by Kira Goller, Smart Underwear
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