“Could I really be incontinent?” It may seem like an embarrassing question, but the truth is, bladder control or overactive bladder issues affect a large portion of people today, and the majority of them are women. “Aren’t I too young to be incontinent?” Well, probably not. While incontinence is most common among women over 60, it is estimated that 15% to 25% of women under 60 are dealing with urinary incontinence too.
What Causes Incontinence in Women?
There are many reasons a woman may find herself experiencing some or total loss of bladder control, depending on her age, genetics, lifestyle, and health. These are some of the most common causes:
- Pregnancy and/or childbirth;
- Medical conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, multiple sclerosis, strokes, and spina bifida;
- Excess weight;
- Weak kegel (pelvic floor) muscles
Many women experience some loss of bladder control during pregnancy, when the expanding uterus is putting increasing pressure on the bladder. After childbirth, loss of bladder control can continue due to weak pelvic floor muscles or damage to bladder nerves.
Incontinence experienced during sex, exercise, laughter, or sneezing is called stress incontinence; young women are much more likely to experience sex related incontinence than their older counterparts.
What Can I Do About My Incontinence?
First things first: talk to your doctor. You don’t need to feel ashamed about discussing your bladder control concerns. Your doctor will help ascertain what is actually causing or contributing to your incontinence, and help you find the best ways to tackle it. Here are several options your doctor may discuss with you:
- Kegel exercises and/or vaginal weights to help strengthen weak pelvic floor muscles.
- Bladder training to control the urge to urinate.
- Prescription medications, if you’re a viable candidate.
- Herbal remedies, if you’re a viable candidate.
- Dietary restrictions on foods and beverages that exacerbate overactive bladder issues, such as caffeine.
- Incontinence panties.
Many women feel embarrassed and even ashamed to have issues with incontinence, and this can lead to feelings of depression. Talking to your friends and family or joining a support or social group, taking steps to get a better night’s sleep, and making sure you take time to still enjoy all your favorite activities will help you fight off feelings of self-consciousness and sadness. If you are already suffering from depression, make sure your doctor knows as you develop a treatment plan for your incontinence issues.
What If I Need Incontinence Underwear?
If you and your doctor think your bladder control issues would be well addressed by the use of incontinence panties, you don’t need to cringe! Panty options for women with overactive bladders have improved by leaps and bounds over the years, and help provide peace of mind when you’re going about your activities. You can purchase incontinence panties that are completely unnoticeable, washable, and even pretty!
Whether you’re 25 or 55, bladder control issues do not need to get in your way of having a wonderful life. Learning about incontinence and taking steps to treat it will help put you back in control.