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GET ACTIVE

Encourage others to start talking and gain control of their bladder health!  We've made it simple for you to share National Bladder Health Week news, resources, tips and tools with your friends, family and healthcare providers.  We have a variety of  simple activities you can choose from to promote awareness of bladder health.  They are cut and paste one of the sample newsletter or emails below.

1415 Stuart Engals Blvd
Mt Pleasant, SC, 29464
United States

843 419-5307

NAFC is a non-profit offering resources for people struggling with incontinence, adult bedwetting, OAB, SUI, nocturia, neurogenic bladder, and pelvic floor disorders like prolapse. 

INCONTINENCE STORIES FROM EXPERTS AND REAL PEOPLE | BHEALTH

Check out the BHealth blog to hear expert advice, real stories from people suffering from incontinence issues, tips on managing adult bedwetting, how to care for a loved one, and how to maintain a healthy pelvic floor.

 

3 FREE Workout Apps To Help Get You Back On Track

Sarah Jenkins

workout apps, free

Getting into a workout habit can be difficult.  These apps make it easier. For the person who is short on time, looking for a way to count calorie-intake, or in need of some new moves, read below. This post is for you.

Johnson & Johnson Official 7 Minute Workout

Don’t think you have time for a workout? The Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout app gives you a great workout in just – you guessed it – 7 minutes. You’ll be able to choose your skill level, create custom workouts, and log your workouts so that you can see your progress over time. As a bonus, the app allows you to workout to your own music. No more excuses.

MyFitnessPal

This app allows you to track calorie intake by recording what and how much you eat. MyFitnessPal boasts a database of over 5,000,000 foods (and nutrition info) that can be entered and you can even scan barcodes to learn the nutritional value for a specific food. The app also allows you to track activity, with estimated caloric burn, so that you can track your overall daily intake and shed those pesky pounds.

Nike+ Training Club

One of our favorites. Like the Johnson & Johnson 7 Minute Workout App, this one allows you to choose your level. Workouts range from 15-45 minutes and provide great video and audio examples of each move, making it easy to know how to do them (especially if you are new to many of these.)  The app allows you to track your workouts and other activity you do outside of the app (yoga, basketball, etc.). Plus, the more you use it, the more personalized your workout recommendations become. 

Smoking And Incontinence

Sarah Jenkins

smoking and incontinence

We all know that cigarette smoking  is bad for us. But did you know that it can also lead to incontinence?  Studies have shown that smokers are at an increased risk for incontinence.  Over time, many smokers develop a chronic cough, which can put an enormous amount of pressure on the pelvic muscles, causing them to weaken and increasing the chance of stress incontinence. Additionally, smokers also experience more frequent urges to use the restroom, as smoking is an irritant to the bladder. Even more alarming, it’s been shown that smoking can also lead to bladder cancer.

What’s a smoker to do?

The obvious fix is to quit smoking – not only to alleviate or prevent incontinence, but for a host of other health reasons as well.  While quitting is not easy, there are a few things you can do to help you succeed:

  1. Talk to your doctor. Your doctor can help give you tips to quit, and may suggest medication or programs that can help. 
  2. Get the support of your family and friends. Tell your loved ones what you are trying to do so that they can support you and give you the encouragement you need when you are feeling tempted to smoke.
  3. Avoid your triggers. Many people feel the urge to smoke during certain activities – grabbing drinks with friends, at certain times of the day, etc. Try to avoid these activities for a while or find ways to stay busy during your usual smoking times.
  4. Take up a hobby. With all the time you’ll save by not smoking, you may be able to finally start that project or hobby you’ve been thinking about. Doing something with your hands(knitting, woodworking, etc.)may also help keep you busy and help you avoid the urge to pick up a cigarette.

Smoking is a hard habit to quit for many people. But with determination and perseverance, it can be done. And it’s never too late to see the benefits of quitting – a recent study showed that even smokers who quit in their 60’s saw an increase in their lifespan.

Have any tips for quitting? Please share them with our readers in the comments below!

The Importance Of Maintaining A Healthy Weight

Sarah Jenkins

Many people put losing weight on their list of new years resolutions. But in addition to the many obvious benefits of staying trim, here’s another:  Maintaining a healthy weight may help lessen your symptoms of incontinence. People who are overweight typically have much greater amount of stress and pressure to the pelvic area, resulting in a weakened pelvic floor. Additionally, more weight and pressure on the bladder can cause an increase in leakage.

Losing weight can be difficult for many people. But, keeping a healthy diet and a strong exercise routine can help you shed those pounds and stay healthy.  Here are some eating tips that may help you jump start your weight loss plan:

 

  1. Eat a high-protien breakfast. A high-protein breakfast can help keep you full throughout the day, reduces food craving and calories intake.
  2. Replace soda and sugary drinks with water to reduce calories.
  3. Drinking water before meals may help keep you from overeating.
  4. Eat food that is rich in fiber.
  5. Eat food slowly. Eating slowly gives your body enough time to recognize when it is full, preventing you from overeating.
  6. Eat lots of vegetables and fruit. Fruits and vegetables are high in fiber and will keep you full without all the added calories of junk food.
  7. Keep the amount of salt in your diet to 6 g or less than that per day.

Keep in mind that if you have incontinence, there are some foods you may want to avoid, as they may make your symptoms worse. Pay close attention to what you eat and stay away from the foods that trigger your incontinence.

 

Bullet Journaling - Is It For You?

Sarah Jenkins

bullet journal

Have you heard of bullet journaling? It’s the newest craze sweeping the internet and is the ultimate to-do list for those who are into goal setting, tracking events, and even a little doodling. Do a quick Google search for bullet journals and you’ll find thousands of beautiful images of calendars, lists, logs, and goals, all mapped out in gorgeous detail. 

Sound intimidating? Sort of. But if you’re looking for a new way to keep track of your life, as well as a written document of your accomplishments, bullet journaling may be for you. And while the images of bullet journals you see on Pinterest and Instagram may seem elaborate, it doesn’t have to be that way.

In short, bullet journals are a systematic way of tracking your short and long-term goals, and really any other item you’d like to measure – working out, daily water consumption, even a written account of your daily gratitude’s. 

If you’re interested in bullet journaling, take a look at the video below by the originator of the bullet journal system, Ryder Carroll. It may just be the thing you’ve been looking for!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fm15cmYU0IM

 

ASK THE EXPERT: Is A Bladder Diary Really Necessary?

Sarah Jenkins

nafc ask the expert

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: What’s a bladder diary, and is it really necessary that I keep one?

Answer: A bladder diary is a great tool for those looking to treat their incontinence, and should be used as a first step in understanding your specific condition. A bladder diary will track the number of times you have gone to the bathroom in a day, if you’ve had any leakage (and the amount), and also tracks your food and drink consumption. By recording all of this over a series of days (at least 2-3 but up to a week or two can be really helpful), you may be able to see trends over time. For instance, perhaps you always experience leakage at a certain time of day, or after you’ve had a certain food or drink. These realizations can help you adjust your routine (or your diet) to avoid leaks. And, the tool can be extremely helpful to your physician, as it gives him/her a better picture of your situation and may help advise better treatment options that will work for you.

In short – yes! Everyone who experiences incontinence should try keeping a bladder or bowel diary for at least a couple of days. What you see may surprise you, or, at the very least, provide a roadmap of your condition that you can share with your doctor.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Contact us!

 

Why Setting Goals Is Important

Sarah Jenkins

goal setting

We often enter the year with ideas of what we would like to accomplish.  You may have called them resolutions, but what they really are are goals – things that we want to work toward to make 2017 the best year yet. Don’t think goals are important? Think again - setting goals is a first step toward making positive changes, as long as they are specifically defined and measurable. Here are3 reasons why you might want to think about creating some goals this year.

  1. Goals help us create a roadmap of where we want to go. By setting goals we can actually design a path to accomplish what we set out to do. And setting small goals for yourself you can help you accomplish big things. For instance, if you’d like to be able to run a 5K by May, start off with a goal of working your way up to running 1 mile within a month.
  2. They make us feel accountable. Writing down goals and placing them where we can see them each day, or telling someone else about what we’d like to accomplish, can ensure that we’ll actually take the steps to do it.
  3. They force us to think about what we really want in life – and help us get there.  Taking the time to think about what your goals are pushes you to think about the positive changes you’d like to make.  

What are your goals for 2017?

The Importance of Resolutions

Sarah Jenkins

I’ve always been a big fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  I envision each year as the start of a new chapter – a way to reinvent myself, develop better habits, and enhance my life.  New Year’s resolutions make us more self-aware and encourage us to think about what it is we really want to accomplish and who we want to be.  And, if done properly they can create a roadmap for us to develop a more fulfilling life.  Here are a few tricks I have learned over the years to help make those resolutions stick:

Be specific.  Making your goal as specific as possible will help you to better realize what you want to accomplish, and make it easier to actually do it.  For example, if your resolution is to “exercise more”, make it more specific by saying that you will “go walking for 30 minutes 3 times a week”. 

Start small.  We often set many lofty goals for ourselves at the New Year.  While thinking big is great, be careful not to overextend yourself.  Setting too many goals may actually be detrimental to us and encourage a greater likelihood of failing than if we just create a single attainable goal.

Write them down and create an action plan.  A study done at Dominican University found that those who wrote down their goals accomplished significantly more than those who didn’t.  Writing down your resolution forces you to be specific and encourages you to create an action plan of how you will accomplish it. 

Plan ahead for weak moments.  If you plan ahead to set yourself up for success, you can help yourself to avoid them. Are you prone to hit the snooze button for a few extra minutes of sleep, instead of waking up and hitting the gym?  Put your alarm clock across the room to force yourself out of bed and have your gym bag ready to go the night before.  Can’t help sneaking a few M&M’s as you walk by the candy bowl?  Throw out the bowl and stock your fridge and pantry with nutritious snacks.  By eliminating your triggers, you help yourself avoid missteps.

Tell people.   One of the best ways to hold yourself accountable to a resolution is to tell others about it.  And not just anyone, but those you trust to support you in your goals.  Even better – get them involved!  Invite a friend to go on weekly walks with you.  Ask your sister to join you at Weight Watchers.  Involving others in your resolution will make it much harder for you to break it.

Allow yourself to slip up.  In fact, you should expect it.  Nobody’s perfect. Even with the best intentions, we all make mistakes and have weak moments. But don’t let one or two missteps cause you throw in the towel or lose your motivation.  Stay focused and get back on track. 

What New Years resolutions are you making for 2017?

You're Guide To Treating Incontinence

Sarah Jenkins

Guide To Treating Incontinence

For many of us, January is a time for setting resolutions – A blank slate where we can rewrite a new reality for ourselves. For those with incontinence, knowing where to start treatment can be one of the biggest challenges.  Luckily, we’re here to help.

Treatment for incontinence has come a long way in recent years. Here’s a breakdown of steps you can take right now, as well as some more advanced options to look at for the future.

1. Management. Managing your incontinence is much different than treating your incontinence, but it is the logical first step. After all, you need to find some way to stay dry until you can properly address the issue. For most people, management will consist of a few things – finding a good absorbent product that works, and watching your food and drink intake to see if there are certain triggers that may make your incontinence worse. And while both of these can do wonders in helping you control the symptoms of incontinence, they’re not really addressing the true problem.

2. Behavioral Therapy.  Along with diet and exercise, there are several other things you may want to try when treating incontinence. Bladder and bowel retraining – which literally involves training your muscles to hold urine or bowel movements for longer more controlled periods of time – are a good step to try and improvements can often be seen in several weeks.  In addition, many people see vast improvements from physical therapy. A qualified physical therapist (usually specialized in treating the pelvic floor) can give you an examination, pinpoint areas of weakness or tension, and provide a customized treatment plan designed to address your muscle strength or weakness. (Need help finding a PT? Check our Specialist Locator.)

3. Medications. If behavioral modifications don’t yield the results your looking for, medications may be your next option. Most medications for bladder control work by relaxing the bladder muscles and preventing the spasms that sometimes accompany overactive bladder and incontinence. These work differently for everyone, and can sometimes produce unwanted side effects though, so talk to your doctor about your options before settling on one.

4. Advanced Therapy Options.  If medications don’t work for you, or you don’t like the side effects that they present, there are still other options. InterStim and Botox injections are two of the more advanced, yet very effective procedures available.   InterStim, also known as sacral neuromodulation, works by stimulating the nerves that control your bladder, bowel and rectum, and the muscles related to urinary and anal functions (the sacral nerves). InterStim stimulates these nerves with a mild current, which helps your bladder/bowel/rectum work as they should.  Botox, treats overactive bladder symptoms by calming the nerves that trigger the overactive bladder muscle. Both procedures are fairly simple and take about an hour to complete.

5. Surgery. For some, surgery may be an option. There are several types of surgeries that address stress urinary incontinence.  These procedures are intended to help correct a weakened pelvic floor, where the bladder neck and urethra have dropped. The most popular procedure is to use a sling, which serves as a “hammock” to support the urethra. Surgical slings may be used in both men and women who experience stress incontinence, and also women who have experienced pelvic organ prolapse. There are many types of sling procedures so be sure to talk to your doctor about your options and research what is right for you.

The most important thing to remember when exploring incontinence treatment is that you have options. Talk to your doctor about your wishes and work together to find a treatment that works for you.

3 Things You Can Do RIGHT NOW To Fight Incontinence

Sarah Jenkins

3 Things You Can Do Right Now To Fight Incontinence

While most people wait until January to start making resolutions, we at NAFC feel that it’s always a good time for positive change.  Here are three things you can do RIGHT NOW if you are dealing with incontinence.

1. Watch your diet.  Yes, we know it’s the holidays and this is probably the last thing you want to hear, but ensuring you’re eating and drinking healthy foods is very important when you have incontinence. Sugar, caffeine, alcohol – these are all common triggers for those with incontinence so be careful when you consume them. Learn your triggers by keeping a bladder diary for a few days to see if you notice a pattern in what you’re eating or drinking and your incontinence. Often, modifying your diet can be a very simple step in incontinence management.

Tip:  If you do get the urge to indulge this holiday season, try to limit it to just one or two days.  There is often an urge to binge on not-so-great-for-you foods throughout the full month of December, but limiting yourself to a couple of days can help keep things in check.

2. Find an absorbent product that fits you.  Many people suffer from leaks even when they use protection. The key to overcoming this is to find a product that is comfortable to you and that fits well.  A product that is too big, or too small, can cause leakage.  And pay attention to the packaging – getting a product that isn’t designed specifically for incontinence will do you no good and just leave you feeling frustrated.

Tip: Do you experience overnight leaks? Your may not have the right absorbent product. We have just the thing.

3. Make an appointment to see your doctor after the holidays.  Yes, it’s probably the last thing on your mind right now, but by making the decision to talk to someone about your incontinence you’re taking matters into your own hands.  Plus, lining up a doctor visit now will ensure that you stat 2017 off on a good note.

Tip:  Need help finding a doctor? Use our specialist locator to find one in your area.

 

 

 

Being Kind

Sarah Jenkins

Being Kind, Incontinent Man Kroger

Earlier this year we shared a story about a woman named Lisa Lemming Jackson who was shopping at a Kroger supermarket. She happened to notice a man who, as he locked eyes with her, seemed as if he needed something. She kindly asked if she could help him. It was this act that of kindness that led to a chain reaction from not only her, but the supermarket staff that was working that day. Lisa’s story is as follows:

"Just spent 2 hours with an elderly man at Kroger. It started with me just smiling at him, making eye contact.... As I walked past him he looked like he needed something. I went back and asked him if I could help him. Tears welled up in his eyes and he said, 'I have colon cancer and I have had a really bad accident, if I get up out of this cart everyone will know ... What should I do?' The look of his dignity lost left me with a lump in my throat. From that moment on, Kroger staff quickly fetched us wipes, undergarments and discreetly took him to their employer bathroom Area where he was given clothes. He cried and apologized. He said he had to hurry his wife was at home alone. When we walked to the register we found his groceries all bagged and somehow paid for. He cried harder. He said he fought in Vietnam and Korean War and loved his country, but up until today he said he thought his country forgot about him. We both cried and I shared with him my own struggles and fears... He gave me words of wisdom and encouraged me that maybe after all, humanity still does care about one another. Today proved it. Thank you Elmer, thank you Kroger and thank you God for the lesson and reminder I received today."

Let us use this story as a reminder to be kind. We may not always know what someone is going through, but a smile and an offer to help can do wonders in making this world a better place. 

 

3 Ways To Beat Stress This Holiday Season

Sarah Jenkins

Studies have shown that people with incontinence are prone to have more anxiety – not too surprising considering the constant worry of making it to the restroom on time.  But add in the holidays, and the stress can take on a whole new level.  Here are 3 tips to reduce your stress so that you’re actually able to enjoy the holiday season.

  1. Take on only what you think you can accomplish.  Baking that extra batch of cookies for the church bake sale. Volunteering in your child’s school activity. Hosting out of town guests. These are all good things. But taking on too much at once can really raise your stress levels. Think about what you realistically have time for, then prioritize the things that are the most important to you. 
  2. Take time for yourself.  Go for a walk or run. Set aside some time to read a book. Relax and wrap gifts with your kids while listening to holiday music. Taking a break from your normal routine will give you the time to reflect on the season, and put you in a better, more relaxed mood.
  3. Keep a schedule. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you should ignore your own personal needs. Make sure to go to bed at your normal hour. Try to eat as healthfully as you can. Get regular exercise.  Limit your alcohol intake. Taking care of yourself will help put you in the best mindset to deal with stressfulsituations that may come up during the holidays.

Have a great stress-fighting tips for this time of year? Share it in the comments below!

ASK THE EXPERT: Do I Really Need To Avoid Sugar And Alcohol If I Have Incontinence?

Sarah Jenkins

Ask The Expert Sugar and Alcohol

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: It’s the holidays, and it’s hard to avoid all the goodies and treats around me.  Do things like sugar and alcohol really make a difference in my incontinence symptoms?

Answer: While it may not be what you want to hear, the answer is yes.  Let’s start with sugar.  Sugar (even the artificial kind) is a known bladder irritant – especially for those with overactive bladder – and too much of it can keep you running to the bathroom more times than you’d want during the holidays. Not only that, consuming too much sugar causes the kidneys to work harder to flush the sugar out of the blood, which can result in an increase in the amount of urine you’re holding onto – not a good thing if you already have a leakage problem. High blood sugar levels have also been shown to increase the risk of urinary tract infections.

And now alcohol. Alcohol is a diuretic. It increases urine production which can lead to increased frequency and urgency of needing to use the restroom. In addition, alcoholic beverages can stimulate the bladder, which can also lead to incontinence.

In short – both sugar and alcohol should be avoided as much as possible for those with incontinence or overactive bladder. If you do plan to indulge this holiday season, remember that moderation is key. 

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Contact us!

How Seniors Can Age-In-Place Comfortably And Safely

Sarah Jenkins

How Seniors Can Age-In-Place Comfortably And Safely

How Seniors Can Age-In-Place Comfortably And Safely

Many seniors can continue to live vital and active lives well after retirement, but safety is always a concern when a senior is living alone. As our bodies age, the risk of falls, broken bones, and other injuries increases, and for some, staying in the home may not be feasible. This is especially true when the home contains stairs, clutter, or walkways that aren’t accessible to wheelchairs or walkers. That’s why it’s imperative for seniors to assess their home to see what dangers might be lurking, to repair or replace any broken appliances, and take a good look at what their needs will be in the coming years.

Here are some of the best tips for senior safety while aging-in-place.

Update

If you have lived in the same home for many years, it’s possible that several updates need to be made in the kitchen and bathroom areas. Take a look at appliances and fixtures such as the stove, refrigerator, and bathtub and consider replacing worn-out technology with newer models. Many appliances now come with “smart” features--such as alarms and automatic shutoff--that would be extremely helpful for a senior. As for the bathroom, add non-slip rubber mats to the floor and tub, as well as a safety bar and shower seat.

Assess

Take a look at your home through the eyes of an older version of yourself. Will you be able to climb the stairs easily, or navigate through walkways? Remove any clutter, old rugs with turned-up corners or slippery backs, and furniture that could provide a trip hazard. Add lighting to stairwells and main living areas to ensure visibility; nightlights are a wonderful tool to have in every room. It’s also a good idea to make sure bedrooms and bathrooms will be accessible from a wheelchair and that doorways are wide enough, especially in older homes.

Security and home safety

For peace of mind, it’s always nice to have door alarms or motion sensors on the property, but they can also be helpful in reminding you to lock up. Consider investing in an alarm service and having motion sensor lights installed around the perimeter, which will aid your vision at night.

It’s also a good idea to make sure there are up-to-date fire extinguishers in the kitchen and in any living space where there might be candles or smoking. Install carbon monoxide and smoke alarms in living spaces.

Consider getting a pet

Dogs and cats can be wonderful companions, and for seniors, they can also be service animals. These animals do much more than provide loyal company; they also help lower stress levels and can be extremely helpful for individuals living with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Aging-in-place may seem like a big undertaking, but if you take it one step at a time and plan well, you might be able to stay in your own home for the rest of your days.

About the Author:  Caroline James is the co-founder of Elder Action, which aims to provide useful information to aging seniors.

Please Give To NAFC This Holiday Season

Sarah Jenkins

Dear Readers,

We’ve often quoted that incontinence affects over 37 million Americans.  And while this number may not mean all that much to you on it’s own, consider this:

Incontinence is more prevalent than diabetes and asthma combined. And while it may not be life-threatening, it certainly has a sever impact on those that it touches. The rate of incontinence isn’t likely to slow down anytime soon – with our ever-increasing population, and the aging baby-boomers, it is more important than ever to ensure Americans have the resources they need to help deal with conditions like incontinence.

NAFC typically does not receive all that many donations from patients. Though we touch over 1,000,000 on this website, few give to us. However, if today, everyone who visited our site donated just $5, we would reach our goal of raising $15,000 this season.

We know there are many causes that are worthy of your donations. But, this giving season we hope that you will consider donating to NAFC. Your support is vital to ensuring that our organization is able to continue helping those who struggle with incontinence. And, as a thank you for your gift, you'll receive a free eBook that serves as a step-by-step guide to managing your incontinence. 

Thank you for your support,  

Steven G. Gregg, Ph.D,  Executive Director, NAFC

 

 

 

 

Why Incontinence Is A Condition We Need To Worry About

Sarah Jenkins

Why Incontinence Is A Condition We Need To Worry About

Incontinence is a condition largely overlooked and under treated in the United States.  Although nearly 37 million people every year are affected by incontinence (which ranges from bladder to bowel leakage issues), unfortunately only a fraction of them ever seek help.  Issues like stigma and embarrassment keep many from reaching out.  Others seek help but may only try one or two treatment options before giving up. And there is another group of patients that talk to their doctor but, sadly, don’t end up getting the proper care due to either lack of physician knowledge of incontinence treatment options or, sadly, an unwillingness to refer to “their” urological specialist.

Yet, despite the unwillingness to talk about it, or treat it, incontinence is something that we should absolutely be worried about for the future.

It is estimated that as of 2050, nearly 60 million women will have at least one pelvic floor disorder. 41.3 million will experience urinary incontinence, and 9.2 million will have pelvic organ prolapse. Those are big numbers. Add men to the totals and they become staggering.

Of course, with increased prevalence come increased costs.  Estimates as recent as 2014 project the total economic national costs of patients over 25 that have overactive bladder along with urgency urinary incontinence to rise from $65.9 billion to nearly $82.6 billion by 2020.

Add all of this to the decreasing rates of urologists in America and we have a real problem on our hands.  A report from the American Urological Association predicts that by 2025, the number of urologists in the US will drop by nearly 30%.

Increased prevalence, increased cost, and a decrease in the help needed to treat the condition. This is what we are facing.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. We can make a difference now by making incontinence a more understood condition. By being brave and speaking up about it to our doctors and demanding treatment from them. By sharing our stories with close friends and relatives in efforts to reduce the stigma (“Yes, you are not the only one – I suffer from it too!”). This is how we fight. This is how we increase the options available to us. This is how we reduce the prevalence.

Don’t let inactivity determine your fate. There’s no better time than Bladder Health Awareness Month to speak up about your condition. Do it today.

Ask The Expert: Can Pelvic Floor Exercises Really Help My OAB Symptoms?

Sarah Jenkins

Ask The Expert

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: Can pelvic floor exercises really help with OAB symptoms?

Answer: Yes! The pelvic floor is a web of muscles that cradle the bladder, uterus and rectum.  By keeping your pelvic floor strong and healthy, you can ensure that your muscles are strong enough to prevent leaks when those urgent needs strike. Kegel exercises are great for this. To perform a kegel, first you need to find the right muscles – a good way to do this is to try stopping urination in midstream.  These are the exact muscles you should be working. (Note – do not do this on a regular basis, only to identify the correct muscle group.)  To perform a kegel, tighten your pelvic floor muscles while drawing in your Transverse Abdominal muscles (TA). Your TA muscles are your lower, inner most muscles of the abdominal wall and you can pull them in by bringing your belly button back to your spine. Hold this contraction for 5 seconds, then let your pelvic floor completely relax. (Allowing your pelvic floor to relax is just as important in this exercise to ensure that it doesn’t become too tight, which can also cause issues.)  Complete 10 sets of these, 2 times per day.

An important note:  While kegels are beneficial to many women who have pelvic floor muscles that are too loose, it is important to note that there are some women who have pelvic floor muscles that are too tight.  In these cases, the pelvic floor is already so tense that they are not able to contract or relax at a normal rate, making them weak.   Kegels are not recommended in women with tightened pelvic floors.  If you are experiencing any type of pelvic floor issue, incontinence, painful intercourse, back pain or constipation, you should consult a specialized pelvic floor physical therapist prior to beginning any pelvic floor exercise.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Contact us!

Adult Bedwetting: Stories And Tips From Real People

Sarah Jenkins

Adult Bedwetting Stories and Tips

Adult bedwetting. It’s a rarely talked about condition, but is one that affects many people.  In fact, NAFC receives more visits to the adult bedwetting pages than any other page on our site.  People struggle with this condition for all sorts of reasons – spinal cord injuries, neurological diseases, and even stress can cause bedwetting.  And sometimes there can be seemingly no cause at all, which makes it all the more frustrating to address. Most people who wet the bed are desperate for a solution.  They find it deeply embarrassing, and it greatly affects their quality of life, as they are constantly dealing with keeping things clean and worried about how it will affect current or future relationships.


The good news is there are ways to manage it.  We asked people who live with adult bedwetting to share their best tips and stories with us. And now, we’re sharing them with you.  If you’re longing to wake up dry in the morning, keep reading!

Don’t be afraid to talk to your doctor! 

“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet. I have been wearing continence products for over a decade now – disposable underwear during the day, and fitted briefs at night. I’ve never had a Dr., RN, or Tech gasp in terror that one of their patients is wearing an incontinence garment, I’ve never had them ask to change me, mock me, or announce my issues to a crowded room.  Doctors are professionals, and they see incontinent people all the time. If you are having incontinence issues, you definitely need to see a Doctor, but don’t be nervous about it. If incontinence was that uncommon, they wouldn’t have aisles dedicated to it in every big box store across the US.”

If your doctor isn’t addressing your needs, find a new one!

“My first Urologist really wanted to focus on medication. I was all for that if it would make my problem go away, but it didn't and it had undesirable side effects. When the medication didn't work the Urologist referred me to a physical therapist and a psychologist, convinced my continence issues were the result of depression. They weren't, and that was when I opted to go with another Urologist. Not every Cop that pulls you over is going to give you a ticket, and not every Doctor is going to focus on what works for you. My second Doctor was focused on how it affected me and how to manage it, and it proved to be a more fruitful relationship. I also think RNs are great to talk to. The Dr. is supposed to be the expert, but in my experience Nurses tend to focus on reality and moving forward. Doctors tend to only focus on cures, even if that isn't a realistic goal.”

Don’t be afraid of adult absorbent products and find one that fits correctly!

“I initially went to what I now see as comical lengths to avoid dealing with my continence issues. I first tried the male guards, which are not designed for nighttime incontinence. When those proved futile I tried buying Goodnites (not designed for a grown man and very ill-fitting), figuring if the store clerk saw me buying bedwetting products designed for juveniles, she would assume that they were for a younger sibling. In retrospect, the clerk at a pharmacy or a grocery store is indifferent to what you buy. I think that is a big thing people initially get hung up on, and they needn’t. I typically buy continence supplies online these days, but no one cares what you are buying as long as you have the cash to pay for it. What is important is buying an incontinence product that works for you and you will use. At night I wear a fitted brief, which is an adult diaper. Initially it was very upsetting, but it gets better with time. Wearing a diaper keeps me dry, my bed dry, my girlfriend dry, and I get a good night’s sleep.  It took me a while to get over the hump of accepting that this was what I had to wear to bed, but eventually I got over it. Now it is just a thing I do at night, no different than brushing my teeth and flossing.”

“The best thing to do is accept that you have the condition and take steps to manage it. Look into products like mattress protectors, bed pads or even diapers. I'm 29 and know how frustrating it is. But I've accepted that diapers are my best option for me. Trust me, taking off a wet diaper in the morning is WAY better than having to change and launder sheets and clothes.” 

Don’t be scared to open up about your condition with your loved ones.

“Everyone is different, but I think that if you are in a relationship with someone and you have an illness or injury, that isn’t going to change things. I was straightforward with my girlfriend and we moved on together. We are still intimate. We still sleep together. We just keep my nighttime attire exclusive of our love life. “

Your attitude can make a huge difference!

“I used to "suffer" with bed wetting but once I became resigned to it, protected myself from its effects with good thick diapers, and changed my attitude about it, the suffering left. For many of us and maybe even you this is simply a condition in life to deal with. Let the suffering go and just accept it as a reality for yourself. You will be much happier and content.”

“I developed continence problems as the result of an unexpected side effect of surgery when I was 14 years old. I'm 74 now. So I've been dealing with these issues for 60 years. I've never been reliably dry at night since then. I was in diapers 24/7 for a couple of years after the surgery, but I managed to develop enough daytime control to go without a diaper except at night by the time I went to university. However, my incontinence increased again when I was in my forties; and I've been in diapers 24/7 since then. Incontinence is just a part of my life, and diapers are the kind of underpants that I wear. I do not "suffer"! I just manage my incontinence as a nuisance that isn't much worse than needing to wear glasses or going bald and not nearly as bad as my arthritis.”

“If your bedwetting is treatable, see the necessary doctors and get it treated. However, if it's chronic and not going to go away, acceptance and management with good diapers are the keys. "Suffering" is optional. I recommend just getting on with your life. Incontinence in general and bedwetting in particular are nuisances that need not ruin your life unless you let them. So don't let them do so.”

Find a support group!

“One of the best things that happened to me happened as a result of the NAFC forum. There was an incontinence panel put together, where individuals were part of a focus group and discussed how incontinence affected their life. I appreciate forums like this because you can discuss issues with other people facing them, but in the real world I always keep my private life private. That focus group meant a lot to me because I had a chance to talk with other people (even just on the phone) that had the same problem and the same concerns. I realized then that everyone worries about people noticing. Everyone worries about odor and stigma. And everyone (at least in the group) wears some sort of protection. That was actually a big weight of my chest being able to talk to people about it that were outside my extended family and the medical field, and if the opportunity presents itself again I highly encourage people to participate. The first 10 minutes are a little awkward, but after that people open up and you realize you aren't alone.” 

Need more support with bedwetting?  Check out our new Dry Night Solution Kit, which offers education and custom products designed to fit your specific needs. 

 

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me?

Sarah Jenkins

A Guest Blog By Sally Connor

I am a 38-year old woman, and I am angry. Angry that my body has changed so much since I’ve had children, angry that I developed a prolapsed bladder after the birth of my first son, angry that I can no longer run the way I used to without making several trips to the bathroom, or worse, wetting myself. I am angry with my doctors for not telling me that this may be a side effect of pregnancy and that there were steps I could have taken to prevent it. I’m angry with other women for not telling me that it has happened to them. I am angry for my sheer ignorance of the situation until it happened to me. But more than anything, I am angry that no one knows any of this because in our society, it feels too embarrassing to really talk about.

When we are young, we don’t think about these things. Before I had children, I don’t think that I ever even gave the pelvic floor much thought. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know what it was.  Here is what I didn’t know:  That the pelvic floor muscles act as a basket, supporting your bladder, uterus, and rectum. It is also connected to and supported by your deepest core muscles – your transverse abdominus (below the ‘six pack’ abs) and your multifidus (the tiny muscles that support the spine), and is affected by almost every movement you make.  The pelvic floor, what I now refer to as the epicenter of my body, is called upon every time you sit, stand, squat, walk, and even breathe. So I ask, why is it that we don’t hear more about this vital web of muscles? Why are we kept in the dark until it is too late? Because, really, much of this can usually be prevented. The pelvic floor, just like any other muscle in the body, can be strengthened and trained. With regular exercise, the pelvic floor and the supporting muscles around it can provide a strong foundation for continence for your entire life. But, like any other muscle, if it is already in a weakened state, and then becomes traumatized by something like childbirth, well, the damage is done. That is the case with prolapse. You can try to repair it, and may see marked improvement through physical therapy, or even surgery, but once the damage is done, it is done. 

It doesn’t mean that there is no hope though. I know this. I have seen great improvement in my symptoms and am grateful to have had access to a very skilled physical therapist who was able to show me how to strengthen things up ‘down there’. But, I still do experience some symptoms and I can’t help wonder if things would be the same had I been more aware of this muscle and what I should have been doing to keep it strong prior to and during pregnancy. 

With over 25 million Americans experiencing incontinence, I am baffled that the issue is not publically talked about more often. It is estimated that about 40% of women will experience prolapse at some point in their life. When will we decide that these conditions deserve attention? Talking about them would encourage more people to get help, and, maybe even more importantly, take steps to prevent it. Instead, the silence only encourages the shame, embarrassment, and isolation that many people with incontinence experience.  It does nothing to help those who are experiencing the issue to know there are ways to treat it.  Nor does it educate those who have not experienced it to know that this is something that should be considered. Until we can all be more open and recognize that this is a problem worth talking about (shouting about!), we will be a society that continues to allow it’s people to ‘quietly manage their symptoms’ instead of really preventing or treating them. 

So please, speak up about your incontinence, your prolapse, or any other pelvic floor issue you may have. While it may be common, it’s not normal, and is nothing that anyone should have to suffer with in silence.

About the author:  Sally Connor is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and homemaker who suffered a prolapse after giving birth to her son. She has refused to let this symptom rule her life and strives to increase awareness of pelvic floor issues and what women can do about them by simply talking more about the issue.  She hopes that one day pelvic floor issues and incontinence will be a less taboo subject.

How To Prepare For Your OAB Doctor Appointment

Sarah Jenkins

OAB

NAFC encourages you to make an appointment so you can get on a path to treatment.

These 6 steps will help you prepare for your visit:

  1. Fill out the Overactive Bladder Awareness Tool and NAFC’s bladder diary to take with you to your appointment. Download the Overactive Bladder - Validated 8-question Awareness Tool PDF, answer the questions, and give it to your doctor at the first appointment. Additionally, you can download and fill out NAFC's bladder diary for about 2 days before your appointment in order to record your symptoms.

  2. Make a list of all of your doctors and medical conditions.Take a list of all your doctors, medical conditions (e.g., diabetes, sleep disorders, heart conditions, etc.) to your appointment.

  3. Complete a list of any operations or medical procedures you have had in your lifetime. Women should list their number of pregnancies, number of deliveries, weight of their babies, and whether they were delivered vaginally or by Caesarean section.

  4. Provide the doctor with all your medications. Include all prescription medicines you are taking that have been prescribed or refilled during the last 30 days. Also include all the prescriptions that you keep in the house but that you don't take regularly. As well as, all the over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and other supplements that you take.

  5. Be prepared to describe how incontinence affects your daily life. Make a list of the most bothersome aspects related to your incontinence.

  6. Be prepared for your appointment. On the day of your appointment, expect to be asked for a urine specimen. Talk with the doctor's receptionist when you make the appointment and when you arrive to see if there are tests, or preparations for tests, that you should know about (eg. fasting after midnight).

The Top 3 Reasons To Use A Bowel Diary When You Have Fecal Incontinence

Sarah Jenkins

bowel diary

It sounds weird, doesn’t it?  Keeping a journal for your bowel or bladder?  Maybe, but a Bowel Diary is actually a very useful tool to use if you suffer from Fecal Incontinence or Accidental Bowel Leakage.  

  1. A Bowel Diary Gives You A Good Snapshot Of What’s Happening With Your Body. Knowing how often you leak, when, and how much can give help you create voiding habits that work with your body, and better assess the types of products that you need to address your leakage.  Always have a problem at 10 in the morning?  Perhaps you need to plan to always use the restroom at that time.  Only experience mild leakage? A light absorbent pad may work just fine for your needs.  Keeping a diary will help you make these decisions.

  2. It Helps You To Identify Triggers That May Be Causing You To Have Fecal Incontinence. By keeping a record of your ABL, you can start to uncover trends that may be contributing to the issue.  For instance, that cup of coffee first thing in the morning may be irritating your bowels more than you thought before, hinting that it’s time to rethink your java habit.

  3. It Provides You With A Roadmap For A Discussion With Your Doctor. Recording your leaks and daily habits gives you a great reference for when you eventually have a discussion about ABL with your doctor. This can be an embarrassing conversation for many, so having a document that outlines everything you’ve been experiencing can really help the discussion along, and provide your doctor with information that can help him or her prepare a better treatment plan for you.

Download the NAFC Bowel Diary here!