Even today urinary incontinence remains a taboo subject. In fact, people rarely tell anyone about it, not even their doctor. Yet there are many ways to prevent or improve bladder leakage. There is also a wide selection of products specially designed to help control bladder issues and minimize their impact on a person’s quality of life and lifestyle.
Urinary incontinence is treatable!
You can reduce or eliminate the symptoms of certain forms of urinary incontinence using various preventive and behavioural treatments. Here are a few possible solutions.
Kegel exercises can be practised by men and women to strengthen the pelvic floor muscles. Good results can generally be obtained after a few weeks.
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Vaginal cones are one of the options now available on the market. These are weights designed to be inserted into the vagina for 15 minutes, twice a day. They are used to “train” and tone the pelvic floor muscles.
With bladder retraining, people learn to master their urge to urinate for increasingly longer periods of time and avoid accidental urine loss. It involves going to the bathroom according to a set schedule and learning to suppress the urge to urinate by contracting the pelvic muscles or by distracting your mind with something else (e.g. counting backwards).
Biofeedback is a technique using sensors and a computer screen to visualize the contraction and relaxation of the pelvic floor muscles in order to learn how to better control them. Biofeedback is sometimes combined with electrostimulation (electrical stimulation), a method that teaches patients to better identify their pelvic floor muscles by using an electrode inserted into the vagina or anus.
Medication and devices
Medication is often prescribed for people with overactive bladders and urge incontinence. Devices, such as pessaries and catheters, can also be used to treat incontinence. To learn more on these options, talk to your pharmacist.
For more severe cases of stress incontinence, surgery may be an option. It is generally recommended if other approaches have proven unsuitable or ineffective.
How to prevent bladder leakage
Finally, here are a few tips on preventing bladder leakage:
- Drink sufficiently, but reduce your fluid intake before bedtime or an outing.
- Reduce your intake of certain beverages (alcohol and coffee) and foods that irritate the bladder (citrus fruit, chocolate and artificial sweeteners).
- Maintain or reach a healthy weight.
- Avoid chronic coughing by quitting smoking
- Avoid constipation
- Prevent and treat prostate problems and urinary tract infections.
- Certain medication can provoke or worsen urinary incontinence. Ask you pharmacist for more information.
Pads, guards, briefs and liners for men and women are some of the available products specially designed to reduce the inconvenience of unexpected leaks and help you feel confident as you go about your daily activities. They come in various sizes and levels of absorbency and offer odour-fighting properties. Contoured for a better fit and more discretion, they can either be attached to or replace regular underwear. Standard sanitary protection pads are not recommended for bladder leakage: the absorbent materials used are different, since blood and urine do not have the same consistency.
Do you have questions about incontinence, its treatment and the products used to control unexpected leaks? Talk to your pharmacist for expert advice!