Managing Incontinence in Women
Know the Facts
Incontinence affects 25 million Americans, and 75-80% are women, 9-13 million of whom have bothersome-to-severe symptoms. Women typically wait 6.5 years from first symptoms to receive a diagnosis and 1 in 4 women over the age of 18 experience episodes of leaking urine involuntarily. Two out of three women who experience loss of bladder control symptoms do not use any treatment or product to manage their incontinence. (1,2)
LOBC can affect almost anyone at every age, but with proper education and treatment, it should not interfere with enjoying an active and full lifestyle. Women experience incontinence more commonly than men, often due to pregnancy and childbirth. With proper education, it can be managed and, in some cases, reversed. There are several approaches to addressing various degrees of incontinence in women, and many of them begin with lifestyle changes. Read on to discover more information about how to manage female incontinence.
Source: (1) International Continence Society (ICS); (2) National Association for Continence (NAFC)
An important lifestyle change includes a change in diet. If you’re one to have caffeinated items during and after every meal, it’s best to cut back since it can lead to increased production of urine. Weight gain can also create increased urges, as it can add pressure on certain muscles. Cutting sugar and soda out of your diet will greatly increase your ability to prevent issues associated with incontinence. Cutting calories can lead to weight loss and less pressure on the bladder itself. Learn more about food and beverage information here.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
Kegel exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles that support your bladder and help close your urethra. The pelvic muscles control leakage and manage sudden urges. Strong muscles give you more time to go to the bathroom. It is important for women, especially those who have experienced pregnancy and childbirth, to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder.
Dealing with Pregnancy
If you are pregnant or just gave birth, you may have found that your food cravings and baby kicks are accompanied by minor to severe cases of accidental urination. This kind of incontinence is Stress Incontinence, which is the loss of urine caused by increased pressure on the bladder, which in this case is pressure from the baby. A light cough or sneeze can cause the urge to go. Nerve and bladder damage may occur during childbirth. After childbirth, loss of bladder control may continue due to weakened pelvic floor muscles. It is important for women, especially those who have experienced pregnancy and childbirth, to strengthen the muscles that support the bladder. This is done through Kegel exercises.
Dealing with Menopause
Hormones change as women age. During and after the process of menopause, women experience the urge to urinate more frequently. This is because the levels of the female hormone estrogen are dropping significantly. One of the functions of estrogen is to keep a woman’s muscles strong. Lack of estrogen may cause the pelvic muscles responsible for bladder control to weaken, resulting in frequent restroom visits. Estrogen also contributes to the health of the urinary tract lining. These linings can deteriorate when estrogen is lacking, which affects the flow of urine. Kegel exercises strengthen muscles that support the sphincter. This helps to keep the bladder closed while it fills.
Products for Women
Choices for products range from items that are placed on objects to protect them, to liners and full adult disposable protective underwear and briefs. Products are organized to meet a range of needs by category.
LIGHT is often associated with stress incontinence. It is usually experienced as a dribble of urine that occurs during sneezing, coughing, laughing, or exercise. The most suitable products for light needs are:
- Pantiliners, which provide protection for a very light dribble, are worn inside undergarments.
- Bladder control pads, which provide protection for light and recurring leakage, are worn inside undergarments. Available in a range of absorbencies.
MODERATE is often associated with urge incontinence and mixed incontinence (stress and urge). Urge is the feeling of an urge to urinate but the muscles can’t hold until the person can make it to the restroom. The most suitable products for moderate needs are:
- Bladder control pads may be used but as the condition progresses, underwear is recommended for protection that stays more securely in place.
- Protective underwear, which provides protection for moderate leakage and recurring leakage, are worn as undergarments.
- Protective Underwear for Women provides customized design for women and targeted protection for the female anatomy.
HEAVY is often associated with reflex, overflow and functional incontinence, or complete loss of bladder control. The most suitable products for heavy needs are:
- Briefs, which provide protection for heavy incontinence and/or for people with limited mobility, are worn as undergarments. Extra absorbency options are available to provide protection from both bladder and bowel leakage.
- Extended Wear Briefs are extra absorbency briefs that provide up to 12-hour leakage protection ideal for night time use.
- Underpads are disposable pads that are placed on surfaces such as beds and chairs to provide additional protection against leaks.
View all products here.