How To Deal With Incontinence

TEAM KNIX / YOUR BODY

Urinary incontinence impacts 1 in 3 women over the age of 18. This remarkable statistic may be at odds with your perception of incontinence; that it’s something that impacts the elderly or infirm. 

And while many active, healthy and vibrant people are affected by a loss of bladder control, it can really put a dent in their life. It can make people nervous and insecure to remain active, socialize or do the most mundane of daily tasks, for fear they might have an ‘accident’.

The good news is it really doesn’t have to be this way. There’s now a wide variety of products on the market to help address involuntary urine leakage. Plus, while these products take care of the immediate problem, you can work with your doctor to explore medical solutions.

It all starts with understanding the kind of incontinence you have…

The Different Types of Female Urinary Incontinence

You should discuss any experience of a loss of bladder control with your healthcare provider, whether it’s temporary or more persistent, and whether you suspect a cause or have no clue.

Here’s an overview of the types on incontinence they may explore and test for so you better understand the process and diagnosis options:


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Type of Incontinence

How / When it Manifests

Some Possible Causes

Treatment May Include

Stress Incontinence

Stress incontinence is urine loss during physical exertion, whether it be exercise or more physical reactions like coughing, sneezing, laughing etc.

  • Childbirth
  • Trauma from surgery (e.g. hysterectomy)
  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Weak pelvic floor 
  • Menopause
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) to strengthen the pelvic floor 
  • Surgery

Urge Incontinence

An impossible-to-ignore urge to urinate, even if you just went or felt fine just minutes before.

  • Neurological conditions like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis (MS)
  • Overactive bladder (OAB)
  • Pregnancy
  • Childbirth
  • Menopause
  • Trauma to the bladder and urethra from surgery
  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Weak pelvic floor muscles 
  • Biofeedback therapy
  • Pelvic floor exercises (Kegel exercises) to strengthen the pelvic floor 
  • Surgery

Mixed Incontinence

A combination of stress and urge incontinence.

  • The same causes as stress and urge incontinence
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Medication
  • Bladder botox injections

Overflow Incontinence

If the flow of urine “dribbles” or is unsteady, you may have overflow incontinence. The inability to completely empty your bladder can lead it to overflow and cause unexpected urine leaks.

  • Weak bladder muscles
  • Underactive bladder
  • Blockages in the urinary tract
  • Lifestyle changes
  • Surgery to remove blockages
  • Use of catheter

Functional Incontinence

This is when you experience urine loss, but the cause is not associated with any problems with the urinary system.

  • Neurological or psychological problems or conditions, like Alzheimer's Disease
  • Physical impairments like spinal cord injuries
  • Nursing assistance
  • Changing physical settings
  • Medications and therapies to address underlying medical condition

How to Deal with Incontinence 

Like any medical concern, what comes after diagnosis can be a bit of a ‘journey’. Your doctor might want to try certain things that will take time to show an effect (like pelvic floor exercises). So you’ll probably want to explore immediate solutions so you can maintain your day-to-day life while you go on that journey. 

We definitely recommend working with your doctor to determine a treatment plan that’s right for you. This includes discussing any lifestyle changes you plan on making yourself. You might also want to start keeping an ‘incontinence journal’ so you can chart your progress or notice any patterns to your leaks (e.g. times of day, or after certain activities / foods).

Immediate Solutions So You Can Keep Living

While any medical diagnosis and treatment plan can be a bit of a ‘journey’, urinary incontinence calls for a more immediate solution. After all, you don’t want your social and professional life to come to a grinding halt because of a little bladder leakage.

Incontinence underwear or leakproof underwear will help you manage bladder leaks with minimal fuss. Indeed our incontinence underwear looks and feels so normal, that many customers just wear it as their everyday underwear. It’s worth noting that it absorbs any kind of liquid, whether that’s urine, vaginal discharge, period blood or sweat.

Knix incontinence underwear comes in a variety of styles and levels of absorbency, so depending on the amount of urine you leak you should be able to find an option, or multiple options, that suit your style as well as absorbency needs.

One note: We don’t recommend buying leakproof underwear and ignoring your incontinence. Do consult your doctor when anything unusual happens with your body as they may want to investigate underlying causes and rule out more serious medical concerns. But you can certainly use leakproof underwear to get on with your life in the meantime!

Things You Can Do Yourself to Prevent or Address Incontinence

1. Mitigate Risk Factors 

When it comes to female urinary incontinence, not all risk factors can be mitigated. (e.g. past pregnancy and childbirth trauma, or surgical history). However, there are some that can be worked on (with medical supervision, as needed). These include:

  • Maintaining a healthy body weight
  • Quitting smoking
  • Exercise to avoid an overactive bladder

You can also adjust your diet to minimize foods and beverages that may irritate the bladder. 

Foods to avoid include:

  • Sweeteners, including corn syrup, honey and artificial sweeteners
  • Spicy foods
  • Acidic foods, like citrus fruits and tomatoes

Beverages to avoid include:

  • Alcohol (alcohol is a diuretic, meaning it makes you urinate more often)
  • Caffeine
  • Carbonated beverages

2. Do Pelvic Floor Exercises to Strengthen Pelvic Floor Muscles

Some would argue that everybody should do pelvic floor training! These exercises (also called Kegel exercises, or Kegels) strengthen the pelvic muscles, which support the uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. 

Unlike other workouts, Kegels can be done sitting or lying down, when you are eating, watching TV or sitting at your desk. You don’t need equipment or special gear to do them either. And they should never hurt (if they do, consult your doctor… this is not an exercise where you should ‘feel the burn’).

The benefits of Kegels can range from improved bladder control to enhanced orgasms. If you’re unsure how to do Kegels, your doctor, physical therapist or physiotherapist can help you. But basically it’s like pretending you have to urinate and then holding it. You relax and tighten the muscles that control urine flow. 

One way to learn the muscles you should activate is to pay attention when you pee: 

  • Start to pee and then stop. 
  • You should feel the muscles in your vagina (for women), bladder, and anus get tight and move up. These are the muscles of the pelvic floor.
  • If you feel them tighten, you have done the pelvic floor muscle training right. Your thighs, buttock muscles, and abdomen should remain relaxed.

Note though: That you should not practice your daily Kegels by stopping pee midstream… this is only a tool for identifying the right muscles.

3. Protect Yourself Against Urinary Tract Infections

Incontinence is one symptom of urinary tract infection (UTI). Another symptom is a stinging or burning sensation when you pee and a decreased or irregular flow of urine. If you experience this, you should visit your doctor. UTIs are treated with antibiotics for 3 to 7 days. 

Ways to prevent UTIs include:

  • Drink plenty of water
  • Urinate before and after having sex
  • Wipe from front to back after you pee
  • Wear breathable, natural underwear and clothing, changing your underwear daily

4. Try Bladder Training and/or Double Voiding

Bladder training involves taking toilet breaks to urinate at regularly timed intervals. By ensuring your bladder is emptied frequently in the bathroom, you minimize the chances of leakages and hopefully better manage the urge to urinate. Over time, the duration of time between breaks may be increased. 

You can also try double voiding: Before bedtime, go to the bathroom and then wait 10 minutes (perhaps brush your teeth etc. in the interim) and then pee again. Using the bathroom several times before bed will help ensure your bladder is empty.

Treatments to Explore With Your Doctor

Beyond these lifestyle changes and depending on the severity of your case, your doctor may want to explore more medical treatments. These may include:

  • Vaginal pessary or urinary insert
  • Botox
  • Medications
  • Hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

Surgical options for urinary incontinence may include:

  • Sling procedure
  • Injectable bulking agents
  • Retropubic colposuspension

The sling procedure is the most  common surgical procedure performed in women with stress urinary incontinence. This procedure entails the surgeon using the person's own tissue, synthetic material, or donor tissue to create a ‘sling’ or hammock that supports the urethra. Learn more about it from the Mayo Clinic.

Don’t Let Incontinence Bring Life to a Halt

It can be very disconcerting when your body starts behaving in ways beyond your normal control. But please know just how common it is for women of any age to experience incontinence. It can be temporary or persistent. 

But regardless of how it manifests for you, you can continue your ‘normal’ social, professional and active life. 

Products like Knix leakproof underwear (which can hold up to 8 tsp of liquid) can be a game changer for those experiencing female urinary incontinence, allowing them to remain active and social while exploring treatment options.