Some 50% of women will experience urinary incontinence in their lifetime, with up to 20% suffering from leakage that affects their daily life. Even though the condition is fairly common, it is not a normal aspect of aging and treatment should be sought. There are several treatments available that can help mitigate or often remove the problem entirely and speaking with your healthcare provider should be the first step when seeking treatment for urinary leakage.
Leakage is typically classified into two types – stress urinary incontinence (SUI) or urgency continence. Some women will feature a mixture of both which is called mixed incontinence. Incontinence can happen as the body ages but can also be caused by childbirth or other trauma to the pelvic organs.
Where to begin
It’s important to get an overview of what condition your body is in before seeking treatment for incontinence. Some health conditions may make leakage worse, so speaking with your healthcare provider is essential.
Urinary Incontinence Treatments: First steps
Treatment options for incontinence include lifestyle changes, surgeries, absorbent pads or pessary devices that can help with incontinence. Before surgery is considered, there are several things women should try first. Let’s run down the list.
Try to lose weight: Carrying extra weight can put pressure on the pelvic region and increase the risk of urine leakage. Lose the weight and incontinence might improve. If exercise and a healthy diet (including portion sizes) isn’t working, then speak with your healthcare provider for more weight loss options.
Manage your fluid intake: Bladder leakage can often be reduced by cutting back the amount of fluids you drink. For most people, drinking just under 2 litres of liquid daily is enough so begin by not over doing your fluid intake. Exercising or times when you are sweating will cause you to require more liquids so try to gauge your needs accordingly. Drinking too much will cause the need for increased urination, that’s obvious, but did you know that drinking too little isn’t great for leakage either? Drink too little, and the urine becomes very concentrated which can irritate the bladder and increase the feeling of needing to urinate. It’s best to drink smaller amounts frequently throughout the day instead of chugging large quantitates all at once. It is also recommended to reduce consumption of alcohol, caffeine and carbonated beverages as well as spicy foods. All of these can irritate the bladder and increase the urge to urinate.
Stay regular: Try to avoid constipation because this can often worsen urinary leakage. Simply increasing your fibre intake to at least 30g every day can help prevent getting constipated.
Plan when you go to the washroom: If you void your bladder regularly instead of waiting for the urge to urinate, you can decrease the frequency of urgency and with it the accompanying incontinence. Avoiding the feeling of urgency also helps prevent stress leakage from a full bladder.
Exercises for urinary incontinence
Pelvic muscle activation exercises: Also referred to as Kegel exercises, strengthening the pelvic muscles helps you control leakage. These muscles are involved in stopping the flow, and can become weak through disuse, ageing and pregnancy/childbirth. Your pelvic muscles help support the urethra and are your best protection against leakage caused by stress urinary incontinence. Practicing Kegel exercises regularly can really help.
If the urge to urinate arises, often times performing Kegel exercises can reduce the need to urinate temporarily. Using the pelvic floor contraction can give you the time you need to make it to a toilet. There is a wealth of information about Kegel exercises online or speak with a personal trainer or medical professional for help.
Train your bladder: Just like the muscles in your body, your bladder can be trained as well. Bladder training means retraining your bladder to hold more urine. To do this, focus on two aspects: 1 – Urinating on a schedule and 2 – controlling sudden urges to urinate.
To begin training your bladder:
1 – go to the bathroom on a schedule throughout the day, every 1-2 hours is a typical starting point.
2 – if the urge to urinate rises, attempt to control it by standing up (to allow your bladder to expand) or performing Kegel exercises while you mentally “feel the urge recede”.
3 – As you get better at controlling the urge, begin to increase the time between visits to the bathroom by 15 minutes and slowly increase the time as you progress.
Stress Urinary Incontinence treatments
If adjusting your lifestyle hasn’t worked to bring urinary leakage under control, there are other treatment options that you can discuss with your health care provider.
Absorbent pads: Pads won’t stop urinary incontinence, but they can help women live with the effects. Pads, like protective underwear, work by soaking up and storing any urine that leaks throughout the day. Pads are less than ideal because they aren’t cheap yet require constant replacement when they become wet. Due the absorbent nature, pads also begin to smell, and if a wet pad is left in contact with skin, irritation and skin burns can occur. It’s necessary to change pads frequently and keep skin as dry as possible. Pads are also not environmentally friendly because they end up in the trash.
Vaginal pessaries: Pessaries are popular non-surgical options that often provide amazing results. A pessary is a soft and flexible device that can be inserted into the vagina to help control leakage. The pessary needs to be fit properly to allow it to help reposition the urethra and stop leakages. There are several different types and shapes of pessary available, so finding one that fits perfectly can be a trial and error process. Many women find relief using augmented tampon shaped vaginal pessaries like uresta®. Pessaries are also reusable and need to be cleaned regularly. They are however made from a non-absorbent material that is safe for the body, wont start to smell and is durable. Vaginal pessaries like those from uresta® are also environmentally friendly because one device can be reused for a year.
Surgery: Mesh surgery (the most common for SUI) should only be considered as a last resort. The surgery is invasive and while it boasts a very high success rate, complications are not uncommon. It is recommended to try all non-surgical options first but speaking to your medical professional is always the best course of action.
To learn more about vaginal pessaries, visit the uresta® website or speak with your health care provider.
Uresta® is offering a limited time 30-day money back guarantee program for U.S. customers so health care providers can prescribe uresta® in confidence, knowing their patients are covered. Patients will be refunded $299 minus a $50 processing fee if they are not happy with their uresta®. No return required.
The content and opinions included in this article are intended for informational purposes only and have been sponsored by Uresta®.