Well, looky here. November just happens to be Incontinence Awareness Month, and that means we’re opening the convo about something we women experience all the time: bladder leakage.
Leaky bladders are just a fact of everyday life. They can surprise us anywhere and everywhere, especially when we’re active. Whether that’s on a spin bike, walking the dog, or sometimes our bladder is uncontrollable even when we’re just laughing at a joke. To give you a sense of how common it is, get this: As many as 3.5 million Canadians—that’s nearly 10 per cent of the population!—experiences bladder leakage. Given that statistic, it’s a little shocking that more people aren’t talking about what bladder leakage is, what causes it, and most importantly, what to do about it.
So leave it to us!
What is bladder leakage exactly?
Also known as urinary incontinence (or UI), bladder leakage (or BL) is the involuntary loss of bladder control. Beyond the physical impact of the condition, bladder leakage can have a broad-reaching effect on a person’s emotional, mental, and social life—especially if you feel embarrassed to talk to anyone about your symptoms, because by staying quiet, we tend to feel even more alone. The fact is, both men and women of all ages can experience leaks, but that doesn’t mean it has to consume your life.
If you have bladder leakage, it’s important to know how to manage your symptoms. That means addressing it, and using the right products to help manage. Despite how common the condition is, a whopping 79% of women with BL either don’t use any products, or use menstrual products that doesn’t offer proper protection against leakage and odour. As a result, many women end up missing out on special occasions for fear of an accident, find themselves exhausted by interrupted sleep, or even lose intimacy in a relationship due to a loss of confidence in bed. And, well, we can’t have any of that.
“I wear absorbent underwear – Depend or others – whenever I go to the gym (which is not often enough). In fact, if I don’t have the right product with me, I’ll forget about cardio or just leave (easy excuse to get out of there.” ~ Alison, 45
What causes bladder leakage?
We know that natural changes in our bodies—enlargement of the prostate in men, or weakness of the pelvic floor muscles in women (childbirth or menopause)—can cause leakage. So can some medications you may be taking. But did you know that your diet can also affect how much you leak on any given day?
That’s right. Certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder and exacerbate symptoms. Now, that doesn’t mean you have to give up your favourite foods but it does mean you should be aware of which ones are triggering you.
Here are some common ones to consider:
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Acidic foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Hot spices
- Carbonated drinks
“I was one of those middle-aged women who suffered both stress and urge incontinence. After a botched medical mesh surgery, I’m now totally incontinent and have no urethra. During the urine incontinence periods, Depend saves me from embarrassment, saves my clothes and gives me the confidence to leave the house.” ~ Nancy, 65
How should you manage bladder leakage?
Thankfully, there are 3 easy ways to address the symptoms of this condition, starting with using the right products.
1. USE THE RIGHT BLADDER LEAKAGE PRODUCTS
Which products are specifically designed to keep you feeling dry and fresh no matter where you are or what you’re doing? Check out this list and choose the product that most closely resembles your situation.
- For more frequent and heavier leakage:
- Depend® Silhouette® Briefs for Women are a sleeker, more comfortable underwear with a secure, feminine waistband that delivers maximum protection with a super-absorbent core that turns liquid into gel and traps in odours. What’s more is that they come in a smooth cotton-like, breathable fabric and close-to-body, underwear-like fit so you can look and feel great in any outfit seamlessly.
- For lighter leakage:
- Poise® Thin Shape® Pads for Women have leak-block sides and thin-flex technology that’s quick to lock in wetness and odour. The super-absorbent material leaves you feeling 3X drier than similar-sized period pads, providing the comfort and protection you deserve.
- For nighttime protection:
- Depend® Night Defense® for Women is lightweight, heavy-protection underwear with more coverage area designed specifically for nighttime use. The snug, comfortable fit and super-absorbent core protects against leaks and odours so you can sleep soundly all night in any position.
- Poise® Overnight Pads are for light bladder leakage. The unique shape is designed with a 75% wider back, providing more coverage to help protect from leaks while lying down.
“I use Depend underwear to avoid embarrassing situations due to occasional incontinence issues. They help me be worry-free at events and I am able to relax and enjoy myself. I have worn them at weddings for example and when riding my motorcycle on longer trips.” ~ Darlene, 62
2. DO YOUR KEGEL EXERCISES
We all remember Kegels, those exercises that strengthen the muscles that help control urination. Regular Kegel exercises are gold for women; they not only improve bladder control, but they also increase blood flow to sexual organs and enhance sexual pleasure. Now there’s a bonus if we’ve ever heard one.
How do you do your Kegels properly? Just like this:
- Locate your pelvic floor muscles by trying to stop your urine flow.
- Squeeze and hold those muscles for three seconds, relax for another three seconds and repeat 10 times.
- Do 3-4 sets of 10 squeezes per day, and you may begin to feel significant improvement controlling your bladder in just a few weeks.
3. CHANGE UP YOUR DIET
Finally, take the time to consciously change up your diet, especially if you’re in the habit or eating and/or drinking the same things daily. Using the list above, consider what you’re ingesting, in what amounts, and at what times of day.
Since the effects of various foods on bladder leakage vary from person to person, the best course of action is to test the different foods to determine which ones affect you personally. Then you’ll be in a better position to avoid those that trigger your leaks and replace them with other options.
Do you suffer from bladder leakage? How do you manage your symptoms? If you know someone who does, pass this information on to them. It’s time to open up the conversation!
This article was generously sponsored by Kimberly-Clark. All opinions are our own and those of the women providing personal testimonials.