You know what it is, but you might not fully understand it. It's one of those things people don’t really like to talk about. Because let’s be honest, bathroom accidents get a little harder to handle once you reach a certain age. But it’s something women experience and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. In fact, the more we actually do talk about it, the easier it gets.
Quite simply defined, urinary incontinence is the lack of bladder control—from a light, slow leak to a sudden onset of fluid that you can't hold in before you get to the washroom. The cause? A few factors—pregnancy, childbirth, menopause or simply the way our urinary tract is shaped—are all different causes of incontinence. The good news? It’s both treatable and curable no matter what age you are.
According to Canadian Continence Foundation before any pharmaceutical, mechanical, or surgical treatments are pursued, there are behavioural treatments that can be done.
Hold up, behavioural treatments, what are those?
KEGELS - These are exercises meant to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles by contracting and relaxing them. They’re simple to do and you can do them pretty much anywhere.
BLADDER RETRAINING - By changing your bathroom habits, you can improve control over your bladder. According to the Canadian Continence Foundation, you can try one of two things. Keep a regular bathroom schedule (called timed voiding), which is gradually increasing the time between visits. Another option is learning to suppress the urge to urinate by distracting yourself and contracting your pelvic muscles (also known as a bladder drill).
"Avoiding alcohol and caffeine and staying active are a few things that can help train your bladder," says Jaqueline Cahill, the CEO of The Canadian Continence Foundation.
Her more practical advice (which she openly acknowledges is a sensitive topic) is to pack a change of clothes, or wear dark colours. Or she suggests toilet mapping. When you arrive at a location, have a plan on where the closest toilets are in case of emergency.
One more word of advice (well, two to be exact): may we suggest Leakproof Underwear. This product is super absorbent and can be a lifesaver by providing worry-free protection, no matter where you are.
Suffering from incontinence can be embarrassing, uncomfortable and inconvenient – we get it. But it also affects millions of women (men also, but mostly women). Incontinence is a tough topic to broach. But do it. Speak to your friend, speak to a partner, and most importantly – speak to your doctor.
With help, there are actions that can be taken to help this condition, if not cure it completely. Some simple, some a little more involved. But the goal is that every cough or giggle doesn’t have to end badly. Say goodbye to the sneeze pee. Bathroom emergencies can we appropriately dealt with. Disasters can be avoided. And life can pleasantly go on.