What Is Incontinence?
- Stress incontinence: Refers to stress or heavy burden on the pelvic muscles.
- Urge incontinence: The constant feeling of having to "go".
- Overflow incontinence: Overflow incontinence occurs when the body does not send a sufficient signal for timely relief. Symptoms can include either not sensing when it's time or to much of a delay in sensing.
Because each of these are different, they must be handled uniquely. Please consult your doctor if you feel you are suffering from incontinence as the below information is not meant to treat or diagnose, only inform.
Symptoms and Causes of Female Incontinence
As stated above, urinary incontinence is the inability to control ones bladder. Throughout the course of a day, someone not suffering from incontinence should urinate four to eight times a day. This number can change depending on the amount of liquid you drink as well as the amount of food you eat throughout the day. Someone suffering from incontinence will have the urge to go to the bathroom more often. Often, those dealing with incontinence will experience occasional leaks or dribbles, while others may wet their clothes more frequently. Wearing incontinence panties by Wearever® can prevent your clothes from getting wet.
It is important to understand that urinary incontinence isn't a disease. It's a symptom. Incontinence can be caused by everyday habits, pre-existing medical conditions or chronic physical problems. If symptoms of incontinence start to appear it is important that you contact your doctor immediately. Over 13 million people worldwide are affected by urinary incontinence, and most are women. According to a study at the University of Washington, incontinence affects 28% of women ages 30 to 39, 41% of those ages 40 to 49, and almost half of all women 50 and older!
• One of the most common causes is a weakened pelvic muscle. The pelvic muscle is responsible for keeping the urethra closed throughout the day. When this muscle is weakened it cannot control it, which leads to leakage.
• Another common cause of incontinence among younger women is pregnancy. After your child is born, many new mothers experience incontinence. The combination of hormonal changes, pressure on the bladder and the exertion during childbirth can weaken the pelvic muscle, leading to incontinence.
• Menopause is another common cause of incontinence amongst older women. The changes in hormone levels affect the muscles around the pelvis.
• Weight plays a factor in whether or not you suffer from incontinence. There is a direct correlation between being overweight and incontinence due to the extra weight on your midsection and putting pressure on your bladder. This type of incontinence is classified as stress incontinence. You can learn more about stress incontinence here.
Who Does Incontinence Affect?
Incontinence in Young Women and New Mothers
While incontinence is most prominent with women over the age of 50, most new mothers tend to suffer from incontinence for several weeks after giving birth. It is estimated that 15% to 25% of women under 60 are dealing with urinary incontinence too. For these women, incontinence is caused from 9 months of pressure on the uterus and a weakening of the pelvic muscle. What these woman are experiencing is called stress incontinence, which can occur when a woman is exercising, laughing, sneezing or engaging in sexual intercourse.
Incontinence in Post Menopause Women
Between 25%-45% of women suffer from urinary incontinence, and most of them are over the age of 50. During menopause the level of estrogen will significantly drop in women and that level will maintain and slowly drop throughout the remainder of their lives. Estrogen helps keep the bladder and urethra healthy and strong. With the decline in estrogen the pelvic muscles weaken leading to an increased risk of bladder leakage. Just because incontinence is common, doesn’t mean you should settle! There are things that you can do to strengthen your pelvic muscles and regain some of your continence.
Incontinence in Children
While incontinence usually affects older women, children are not immune to incontinence. A child suffering from incontinence will often wet their bed during the night. Often times in children, will be affected by Urinary Incontinence due to a larger health issue such as:
- A Urinary Tract Infection
- Kidney problems
- Nerve problems
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
By no means does this mean that someone who suffers from incontinence is also suffering from an above illness. If you feel that you or a child has incontinence be sure to consult your doctor. If you are concerned that your child is consistently wetting the bed, Wearever® sells mattress pads to keep your mattress dry throughout the night.
Common Treatments & Solutions:
The most important thing is to talk to, and take your doctor’s advice. Once you have spoken to your doctor and determined that you are suffering from incontinence, there are several things you can do to improve your condition. Nothing here should override what a certified doctor instructs. With all that being said, there are some at non-medical, at home exercises you can do to strengthen the core muscles that lead to incontinence.
Exercises for Beating Incontinence:
Kegel Exercises are a great way to strengthen your pelvic muscles to limit and combat incontinence. There are two types of Kegels, Basic and Advanced. Be sure to start off with Basic before moving on to Advanced Kegels.
- The first thing you must do is locate the muscles that control urination and flow. The easiest and best way to identify these particular muscles are to begin urinating (over a toilet) and then stop the stream. Hold this for five seconds. The muscles that clench are the ones you need to be working on developing and strengthening.
- Once you have identified your pelvic muscles, and are away from the toilet, sit on the floor and work on holding the muscles at five-second intervals. Such exercises can literally be practiced anywhere - in the car, in your office, at home watching TV, etc. And the best part – No one else has to know you’re doing them! After this step, then you can move on to more advanced Kegel exercises.
- Deep Flex: The deep flex is more advanced than simply working out the pelvic muscles in five second intervals. The deep flex does involve doing this, but doing it with more intensity. For instance, it involves clenching the pelvic muscles for five-second intervals, gradually trying to work your way up to 10-second intervals. This exercise will strengthen the muscles more quickly.
Getting fit and losing weight are two great ways to improve your continence. By eating better and working out you can get your body in better physical condition, which will relieve some of the stress on your bladder and strengthen your pelvis muscles.
Look into incontinence friendly recipes that contain foods that don't irritate your bladder or digestive tract. In a small study in Tel Aviv showed that magnesium has a positive affect on improving incontinence. By adding magnesium to your diet you may see an improvement in your bladder leakage.
Scheduled Toilet Trips
By going to the bathroom when you want, as opposed to when you have to, you reduce the urge to go throughout the course of the day. Scheduling times to go to the bathroom every two to four hours will help alleviate your incontinence.
If after consulting your doctor, and trying some of the above at home remedies for incontinence you feel that you need further treatment, there are several medical treatments you can have to improve your incontinence, starting with medication. There are several different medications your doctor can prescribe you that they deem best for your specific situation.
There are also some medical devices you can get to help relieve the need to consistently go to the bathroom. Urethral inserts or pessary’s are two tools that doctors can prescribe to you.
A last case scenario is to have surgery. Some commonly used procedures are:
- Sling procedures: This is when strips of your body tissue, synthetic material or mesh are used to create a pelvic sling around your bladder neck and urethra.
- Bladder neck suspension: This procedure is designed to provide support to your urethra and bladder neck.
Lifestyle (Living Your Life)
Don’t let incontinence let you from living the life you want to live! There are millions of women who suffer from incontinence and still live a regular, normal lifestyle. Incontinence does affect most aspects of your life, but using any of the above treatments can greatly improve your lifestyle in several ways.
Kegels have been known to greatly improve sexual performance in both Woman & Men. It has been proven that by performing kegels regularly, you can reach a full range of orgasms.
When preparing for a trip, there are several things you must plan for if you suffer from incontinence. If any part of your trip involves traveling by airline or bus, we recommend booking early and requesting a reserved seat on the aisle, near a bathroom. Be sure to inquire about baggage restrictions when booking if you require additional space for incontinence panties. An extra supply is advisable in the event of delays. Traveling by car should be planned through major routes that offer ample opportunities for restroom breaks.
Additionally, wearing dark colored clothing to help disguise any accidents or leaks will improve your moral, as well as choosing loose fitting clothing that is comfortable and easy to remove.
Most importantly – Make one last trip to the bathroom before you go. Even if you don’t feel like you have to, go just to be sure!
What you Can Wear
When suffering from incontinence, it is important to protect yourself and your clothes with incontinence underwear. Wearever® Incontinence offers reusable panties that are good for up to 250 washes. These panties are great to wear under all types of clothing and are appropriate for all activities.
It is important for you to know all the facts when dealing with Incontinence. Wearever® has put together a list of other great resources you can use to learn about Incontinence.