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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.

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National Association for Continence is a national, private, non-profit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with incontinence, voiding dysfunction, and related pelvic floor disorders. NAFC's purpose is to be the leading source for public education and advocacy about the causes, prevention, diagnosis, treatments, and management alternatives for incontinence.  

BHEALTH BLOG

The BHEALTH blog brings you tips and tricks on all things incontinence.  Log in daily to learn tips on caring for loved ones, overcoming symptoms, and first hand accounts from experts and those suffering from incontinence. 

 

Four Tips On How To Date When You Have Incontinence.

Sarah Jenkins

Having incontinence can put a damper on a lot of activities for many.  Some people are so scared that they will have an accident they won’t leave their home, let alone go out with friends or on dates.  If this sounds like you, you should know that there are things you can do to treat your incontinence, and tricks you can use to survive the dating world.  See below for our top four tips on dating when you have incontinence.

1.     Know Your Options.  Being educated about what treatment options are available to you is half the battle.  Make an appointment with a doctor to talk about your symptoms and find a solution that’s right for you.  Don’t be scared of this step – your doctor can educate you on many types of treatments, ranging from very conservative, non-invasive approaches to more advanced options such as surgery. Once you start treating your incontinence, you’ll gain more confidence in your ability to go out without having to worry about leaks.

2.     Change up your habits.  Avoid indulging in bladder irritating foods when out and about to lessen the risk it will cause an accident.  Things like alcohol and caffeinated items are high on this list. Keeping a bladder diary for a couple of weeks can help you identify your triggers so that you know what you need to avoid in social situations.

3.     Plan ahead.  Know where the closest restrooms are so that if you need to head there in a hurry you won’t lose time searching around.  It can also be helpful to have an extra change of clothes on hand just in case an accident does happen.  Keep a spare in your bag or car for emergencies.

4.     Be open with those you love.  Thinking about being intimate when you have incontinence can be nerve-wracking, but opening up to your partner can help ease the tension and take a weight off your shoulders.  Talk to them before you’re in a situation to have sex so they know what to expect.  If they get hung up on it, chances are they aren’t worth your time anyway.  However, you’ll likely find that being open and honest with them will help you both relax a bit and will create an even more trusting and caring relationship.


Don’t let incontinence limit your social life.  Learning how to treat and manage it, and knowing your personal triggers, will give you the confidence to get out there and start living a more connected – and full – life.  





Incontinence During Sex - It Happens To Men Too

Sarah Jenkins

Prostate cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in men. According to the American Cancer Society, 1 in 7 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime (only skin cancer has a higher rate).  And, while many men will go on to survive prostate cancer, the side effects of treatment can be difficult to deal with for many.

A common treatment for prostate cancer is a radical prostatectomy, or the complete removal of the prostate.  This is generally considered a good approach especially if the cancer is contained within the prostate gland and has not spread.  However, one side effect of this procedure is often incontinence.

Stress urinary incontinence, the type of incontinence that happens when you place pressure on the bladder, is common for men who have had their prostate removed or are undergoing other treatments for prostate cancer.  Treatment can sometimes weaken the bladder muscles, causing leakage when a man sneezes, coughs, exercises, or even during sex.  This can be extremely embarrassing for men, and can be discouraging when going through the healing process of having a prostatectomy.

The good news is that many men regain full control of their bladder with time after a prostatectomy.  However, in the meantime, here are some tips that may help you avoid some awkward situations in the bedroom:

·      Try to watch your fluid intake in the hours leading up to sex.

·      Avoid consuming bladder irritating food and drinks, such as caffeine, chocolate, or alcohol.

·      Prior to sex, completely empty your bladder.

·      Keep a thick towel nearby in case of any accidents

While this problem can be an embarrassing one, keep in mind that many men deal with this in the months after prostate cancer treatment and with time, this condition should improve.  If you still experience problems a few months after your treatment, talk to your urologist about treatments for incontinence.  He or she can help you navigate the many options available to you and find one that fits best with your needs.

 

How To Talk About Incontinence With Your Loved One.

Sarah Jenkins

Talking about incontinence is never easy.  Whether you are the one experiencing it, or someone close to you has been exhibiting symptoms, it is a conversation that most dread.  However, sharing this struggle with a loved one is perhaps one of the best things you can do in your path to recovery.  With a little advanced planning, a deep breath, and some honesty you’ll be able to get past this and move on to the next (and more productive) phase of this struggle – treatment.

 

When you’re the one struggling with incontinence.

Believe it or not, you may actually be on the easier end of this conversation.  As embarrassing as it may feel to open up to someone about this, if you are ready to do so, you have likely accepted that this has become a problem and are ready to receive support.  And who better to provide that support than a trusted friend or loved one?  Opening up to someone may not only provide you with the physical help you need, but also lift an emotional weight off your shoulders.  You don’t have to suffer through this alone.

 

 

When your loved one has incontinence.

If you’ve been noticing that a loved one seems to be having problems with incontinence, it may be time to talk with them about it to see how open they are to treatment.  This can sometimes be difficult – it is very likely that the person knows they have a problem, but may be too embarrassed to talk to anyone or do anything about it.  Depending on your relationship, it can also be hard for your loved one to admit.  For instance, a father who is cared for by his son or daughter may feel too proud to discuss this with his kids.  Start the conversation slowly by asking them about their general health, then move on to some of the signs of incontinence that you’ve noticed. Be prepared – they may get defensive and try to hide the problem.  If that happens, try again.  Be patient with them and try to be as accepting and understanding as possible. In time, they will likely open up to you once they see that your intentions are good and you are there to support them.

 

Our last tip?  Get some advice from those who have been there and understand.  As life changing as it may be, you are not the only one in the world who has ever struggled with this condition.  Whether you are looking to reach out to others who are experiencing it, or others who care for an incontinent loved one, there are many people out there who are discussing their problems on message boards and online forums.  Check out the NAFC message boards to get some tips on how others have touched on this delicate subject.

 

 

Delicious Zucchini Fries

Sarah Jenkins

Looking for a healthy snack?  Try these delicious zucchini fries from health.com for your next get together.

 

Ingredients:

2 zucchini, cut into 3-inch sticks

1 egg white

¼ cup milk

½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese

½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs

Vegetable cooking spray

 

Directions:

1.     Preheat your oven to 425. 

2.     Whisk egg white and milk in a small bowl.

3.     In a separate bowl, combine Parmesan and seasoned breadcrumbs.

4.     Dip zucchini sticks into the egg mixture, then roll them in the breadcrumb mixture.

5.     Coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, then place zucchini on sheet.

6.     Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

 

A Bladder Friendly Soup To Warm You Up!

Sarah Jenkins

Cold days getting you down?  Warm up with this recipe for Potato Corn Soup from Interstitial Cystitis Diet.  Quick enough to make for a weeknight dinner and bladder friendly to boot, this is one to keep on file!

 Potato Corn Soup (serves 6)

 Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup grated onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon celery powder or celery seed
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 cups hot milk
  • 1 cup mashed potatoes
  • 1 cup frozen corn kernels

 Instructions

  1. Saute carrot & onion in butter; stir in remaining ingredients. 
  2. Cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

The long and winding road – determining the best treatment option for your OAB symptoms

Sarah Jenkins

If you suffer from Overactive Bladder (OAB), you have likely tried some form of treatment to manage your symptoms.  But you may not be aware of the plethora of options that are available to you.  Read on to learn about some of the options and then use our new OAB Treatment Tracker to get a customized report that can help point you in the right direction and provide you with a report that you can use to discuss your options with your doctor.

Absorbent Pads.

You may cringe when you hear absorbent pads, but they can help you in managing simple leaks as you decide what course of action you will want to ultimately take.  Some people use these indefinitely, although there are other options that may work well for you and provide a more permanent solution.  Be sure to try a variety of products and fits to find one that works best for you.

Behavioral Modifications.

Getting in shape and eating well does more than just make you look good.  Working the right muscles can also help keep your pelvic floor strong and give you more control over your bladder.  The best way to learn how to do this is by finding a trained physical therapist who can provide you with customized workouts and ensure you are working the right muscles correctly. 

Medications.

There are lots of medications on the market that treat OAB symptoms.  Most work by calming the bladder muscles to prevent incidences of OAB from happening.  Even if you have not had luck with one medication, don’t lose heart. Medications work differently for everyone and it’s possible that you may need to try a couple before you find one that works for you.  Talk to your doctor about your options to determine what may work best for you.

Procedures.

Did you know that there are simple procedures that can be done in a doctor’s office that may greatly improve your OAB symptoms?  Sacral Nerve Stimulation and PTSN are procedures that stimulate nerves in the body that connect to the bladder to help reduce symptoms, while Botox injections can help calm nerves that trigger the Overactive Bladder muscle.

Surgery.

For those who have tried multiple treatment options and would like something more permanent, there are several surgical procedures that may work well for you.  There are procedures that can increase the size of your bladder to store more urine, and the popular mid-urethral sling (for those experiencing stress incontinence), in which material is placed beneath the urethra to help support it. 

The best course of action is always to talk with your doctor about your specific situation and the options that are available to you.  He or she will be your guide to understanding the ins and outs of the different treatments. 

To get a more customized report that you can review with your doctor, try out our new OAB Treatment Tracker.  It will help point you in the right direction and provide you with some options and an account of your treatment history to discuss with your doctor.

Announcing The New OAB TREATMENT TRACKER!

Sarah Jenkins

Overactive Bladder, that need to go to the bathroom urgently and often, affects roughly 33 million people in the US.  However, most people do not seek help for this problem, attributing it to getting older, and thinking there is nothing that can be done.  We think this is tragic, because there are actually so many treatment options available that no one should have to live with this condition on a day-to-day basis.

 

That’s why we’ve developed the OAB Treatment Tracker, a tool designed to assess where you are in treatment (even if it is at the beginning!) and provide you with some suggestions to look into.  It also provides you with an assessment of your treatment history to take with you to your doctor to help move the discussion in the right direction.

 

Ready to take control and start treating your OAB?  Check out the OAB Treatment Tracker today to see what options might be a fit for you!

 

 

OAB FAQs

Sarah Jenkins

Today we're answering your most frequently asked questions about OAB.  Read on to learn the ins and outs of this condition.

1.    What exactly is OAB? 

The hallmark of OAB is urgency. That is, when the need to urinate is noted, it is felt with a severity that makes it difficult to postpone. OAB may be accompanied by other symptoms as well, like getting up at night, leaking on the way to the bathroom, or going frequently.

2.    What are the symptoms of OAB?

How are they different from other types of incontinence? The defining symptom of OAB is urgency, or the inability to postpone urination. Urge incontinence is similar, but involves the involuntary loss of urine associated with an urge. 

3.    Is OAB simply a part of aging? 

No! While OAB is more common as we age, it should not be considered "normal". It can have a terrible impact on quality of life and should be treated.

4.    What medical tests may be performed to diagnose OAB?

Some doctors may perform a urine analysis to look for blood, infection and sugar.  Depending on the findings from your urine analysis and your medical history, additional blood work may be performed.

5.    Does OAB affect men as well as women? 

OAB can affect both men and women, however it is slightly more common in women.

6.    What causes OAB? 

No one thing is the single cause. In some cases the bladder nerves may be responsible. In other cases, the bladder muscle itself may be the culprit. 

7.    Can Kegel exercises help with OAB? It depends. 

While Kegel exercises have long been touted for incontinence issues, they are not for everyone. A physical therapist can help determine if kegels will work for you and will coach you on how to properly perform them.

8.     How can a prostate problem contribute to OAB? 

If the prostate obstructs the bladder outlet and creates elevated pressures during voiding, the bladder muscle reacts and undergoes changes. Part of these changes may make the bladder muscle more "irritable", and result in more frequent and urgent voids. An enlarged prostate may also prevent the bladder from fully emptying, hence contributing to frequent signals to urinate.

9.    Does menopause have a role in contributing to OAB? 

Yes. The vagina and urethra have estrogen receptors. When estrogen levels are low, as they are in menopause, these tissues may thin and become irritated which may aggravate OAB symptoms. Local estrogen administered vaginally can make a difference for some women.

10.   Can an illness or bladder infection cause OAB? 

Bladder infections usually do not cause OAB. Once the infection clears, the symptoms usually get better.

11.   Could my weight or diet be contributing to my OAB? 

Obesity can cause bladder problems like OAB and leakage. Think of it like being pregnant and having all the extra weight bearing down on top of the bladder. Certain foods or drinks may also contribute to OAB. Acidic foods are usually the most offensive, but you can often learn your personal triggers by keeping a bladder diary.

12.   Can prescription or over-the-counter medications contribute to my OAB? 

Yes, they can make OAB worse. Especially diuretics and those containing caffeine.

13.   What is bladder retraining? Will it help me control my OAB? 

Bladder retraining is progressively prolonging time between using the restroom on a structured schedule in order to enlarge the bladder's functional capacity, and may help alleviate some OAB symptoms, especially frequent urination.

14.   Can a condition like Multiple Sclerosis (MS) or Diabetes contribute to OAB and will the urgency / frequency stop with treatment? 

Both MS and diabetes can damage nerves, which can result in symptoms in the urinary tract. Additionally, poorly controlled diabetes can result in the loss of sugar in the urine, which can cause people to produce a greater volume of urine than normal (polyuria). The extra volume may aggravate or mimic OAB.

15.   Can childbirth cause OAB? 

Trauma from childbirth can weaken the pelvic floor muscles, and can cause bladder symptoms ranging from OAB to stress urinary incontinence.

16.   I experience chronic constipation. What impact could this have on my OAB? 

Your colon and bladder are next-door neighbors. If your colon is full, it can actually compress your bladder and cause bladder problems. 

17.   If I restrict my fluid intake, will it help my OAB symptoms? 

You should never restrict your fluids to the point you are dehydrated.  However, reducing the amount of caffeinated beverages you drink can make a difference, as caffeine can irritate the bladder.

18.   I have an enlarged (non-cancerous) prostate. My urologist indicated that this was the main cause of my overactive bladder experiences. He suggested an operation to diminish the size of the prostate. Is this is the best way to regain total control of my bladder? 

If your bladder outlet is obstructed for this reason, relief of that blockage may help alleviate the symptoms.

19.   I have noticed that many of the medications prescribed for OAB indicate tachycardia or rapid heart beat as a possible side effect. Why is this the case? Is there a medication for this condition that does not have rapid heart beat as a possible side effect? 

Most of these medications are called anticholinergics and work by blocking certain nerves associated with the bladder. Unfortunately, they block other nerves in other organs and that is why they have side effects.

20.   What can be done for the patient who leaks only with a change in position, such as when getting out of bed? 

It depends on the cause. The leak could be from stress urinary incontinence or an overactive bladder muscle. Talk to your doctor to see what options may be available to you.

Think you have OAB?  Use the new NAFC Treatment Tracker to learn about the treatment options that may work best for you.

Back To The Grind - 4 Ways To Stay Motivated Through The Long Winter Months

Sarah Jenkins

The hubbub of the holidays are over, and most people are now back to work, trying to work their way through the long winter.  This time of year – the stretch from January through March (and even April and May in some places) – is tough, waiting out the cold until the great thaw comes to free us from our indoor rut.  After all, you can only watch so much Netflix.  Here are four ways to stay motivated through the frigid months.

1.   Find ways to surprise yourself every day.

There is no better way to break free of a rut than to do something different.  And it doesn’t have to be big – take a new route to work.  Try a new restaurant.  Make a new recipe. Do something nice for a fellow coworker.  Changing up your routine, even in a small way, can add interest to your life and introduce you to new experiences and sensations.

2.  Take up a new hobby.

The winter months are a great time to take up a new skill.  That pottery class you’ve always wanted to try?  Give it a go!  Want to learn how to cook?  There are classes for that as well.  Take up a new sport, and better yet, get a friend to go with you.  The added social benefits you’ll get from hanging out with a friend will make the activity even more uplifting.

3.  Create a goal and make plans for completing it.

Want to get into running?  Sign up for a 5K for the spring and use the coming months to train for it.  Fancy yourself a writer? Make a pact with yourself to carve out 10 minutes each day to write.  Whatever your craft, make a goal, and more importantly, a plan to complete it.  Sticking to a plan will add interest to your days and come spring, you’ll feel a great sense of accomplishment for all your efforts.

4.  Plan a vacation.

Studies have shown that the mere act of planning, and then looking forward to a vacation is sometimes more or as rewarding as the vacation itself.  Plan a trip that you can look forward to for a few weeks to ease the winter slump.

How do you stay motivated through the winter months?  We’d love to hear your tips!  Share with us in the comments below.

Bladder Control Loss And Travel

Sarah Jenkins

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For the more than 25 million Americans with bladder control loss, leaving their comfort zone can be a daunting thought. It doesn’t have to be this way. With preparation and the right know-how, the anxious and uncomfortable feelings can be eliminated.

Imagine forgoing a golfing trip with your buddies or missing your favorite niece’s graduation because you will be in a situation where there may not be restrooms in sight. This is what many people with urinary incontinence and overactive bladder do. There are steps to take before your trip so that you are prepared for these situations.

First you should know how the medications you are taking affect your bladder function and body by asking your doctor about medications to help control urinary incontinence. Be aware that you will need to begin to take these medications weeks before your trip. Many people think of these medications as event management—take a pill when going out. But these medications need to be in the system for a couple of weeks for them to take effect. It is also helpful to get acclimated to the effects of a new medication, such as dry mouth or constipation, so that you can find ways to manage these side effects before going out of town.

Map out public restrooms in the city you are traveling to. There are online tools, mobile phone applications, and books devoted to this. 

Pack management tools. Absorbent products can be helpful in situations when loss of urine and bowel control is unpredictable. Pads, briefs, and absorbent underwear should be chosen for absorbency, comfort and fit. Visit the absorbent product section of NAFC’s website for more information.

Think about the travel it takes to arrive at your destination. While traveling you want to make it easy as possible to get to a restroom. If you’re traveling by airplane, get an aisle seat. And be sure to go to the bathroom before the drink cart heads down the aisle. You can also use online tools, such as Google Maps, to find rest stops along your driving routes, if you are traveling by car. Not every car on a passenger train has a restroom; perhaps you need to consider upgrading to business class or ask the reservation clerk for a seat closest to the toilet. And public toilets are often lacking supplies. Always have hand sanitizer, wipes, and pocket tissue handy.

While on vacation pay attention to what you are eating and drinking. Diet can have a profound effect on your voiding patterns. Stay away from caffeine, alcohol, and artificial sweeteners. These are known bladder irritants. Make sure you drink plenty of water. Many people who have bladder control problems reduce the amount of liquids they drink in the hope that they will need to urinate less often. Some fail to hydrate as they would like simply because they are in unfamiliar areas without beverages frequently accessible. While less liquid through the mouth does result in less liquid in the form of urine, the smaller amount of urine may be more highly concentrated and, thus, irritating to the bladder surface. Highly concentrated (dark yellow, strong-smelling) urine may cause you to go to the bathroom more frequently, and it encourages growth of bacteria.

Do not let your bladder control your life. If you are experiencing bladder control loss and you haven’t spoken to your doctor or healthcare provider about it you need to do so now. Help is available for everyone. More and more new treatments are successfully used for all types of incontinence. Improvement begins with you and continues through active participation in your treatment program.

OAB - What it is and how you know you have it.

Sarah Jenkins

We’re sure you’ve heard the term OAB tossed around out there – after all, an estimated 33 Americans deal with the condition and there are countless remedies and medications for it available on the market.  But what exactly is it?  Simply put, OAB, or Overactive Bladder, is a sudden, frequent urge to urinate immediately.   It often comes with little warning and usually leaves a person rushing to the restroom in order to make it on time.

So, why does this happen?  In people with OAB, the bladder muscles contract more frequently than normal, sending a signal to the brain that it’s time to urinate.  These contractions may be happening for a number of reasons; side effects from medications, urinary tract infections, pregnancy, neurological diseases like MS or Parkinson’s, problems with the prostate in men, or nerve damage from surgery or injury all can contribute to OAB.

Answer the following questions to see if you may be suffering from OAB:

-Do you feel like you’re using the restroom all the time?  Most people don’t use the restroom more than 8 times during the day.  If you find yourself going more frequently, and if those trips result in no more than a few drops of urine, you may have OAB.

-Do you feel sudden urges to go with little or no warning?  That feeling that you have to go right now is one of the most common symptoms of OAB.

-Do you wake up more than twice a night to use the restroom?  If so, you may be suffering from nocturia – the need to frequently urinate at night, and a common symptom of OAB.

-Do you worry about having accidents?  If these rushed trips to the bathroom result in a bit (or a lot) of leakage, it’s likely OAB.  Urge Incontinence is very common with OAB, and is when the urgent need to go results in leaked urine.

-Do you try to map out the nearest restroom at social situations?  Do you avoid doing things you once loved for fear of finding yourself in an embarrassing situation?  If you’re adjusting your lifestyle around the potential for accidents, you may have OAB.

Luckily, there are several remedies for OAB ranging from physical exercise to medications, and even certain medical procedures.  Use the NAFC OAB Treatment Tracker to learn about which treatment options might work well for you and then talk to your doctor about your condition so that he or she can find one that works best for you.

Types of Incontinence - The Break Down

Sarah Jenkins

Do you have incontinence?  While most people think of incontinence simply as the inability to hold urine, incontinence can actually take many forms.  Here, we break down the different types of incontinence for you.  Once you identify the type you have, you’ll be better suited to treat your condition:

Urge Incontinence.  Do you feel like you always have to go to the bathroom when you’re washing the dishes?  There’s a reason for that.  Also commonly referred to as Overactive Bladder, or OAB, Urge Incontinence is when you feel a strong need to use the restroom right now.  This can happen out of the blue, and may be triggered by - you guessed it - hearing running water, or even anticipating needing to use the restroom. 

Stress Incontinence.  Do you leak a little bit when you sneeze or laugh?  Does the thought of jumping on the trampoline with your kids give you pause?  If so, you may be suffering from stress incontinence.  Stress incontinence is the leakage of urine when extra ‘stress’ is placed on the bladder and is generally caused by weakened sphincter muscles.  Common causes are childbirth, general loss of muscle tone, nerve damage, and even chronic coughing, which places continued stress on the muscle. 

Mixed Incontinence.  Do both of the above scenarios sound familiar to you?  You’re not alone.  Mixed Incontinence is when you feel both the urgent need to go, and experience leakage due to physical exertion, and is very common. 

Urinary Retention.  Generally caused by an obstruction in the urinary tract, or nerve problems that interfere with signals between the brain and the bladder, urinary retention is when your bladder has trouble completely emptying.  Symptoms of urinary retention include difficulty starting a stream of urine, feeling a frequent need to go, and feeling the need to urinate again soon after finishing. 

Luckily, there are many treatment options available for each of the above types of incontinence.  Educate yourself more about your condition and what can be done, so that when you’re ready to see your doctor, you’ll have a greater understanding of your condition and the options available to you. 

 

Need help finding a physician?  Use the NAFC Specialist Locator!

Just Do It

Sarah Jenkins

Another year is almost over.  What have you done to overcome your incontinence this year?  Maybe you’ve started a new workout routine that strengthens the pelvic floor.  Maybe you’ve spoken with your doctor about a new medication to try.  Maybe you’ve even discussed taking a bigger step toward a permanent solution through surgery. 

Or, maybe you’ve done nothing.  Maybe you’ve continued to let incontinence control your life.  Maybe, for another year, you’ve declined social invitations for fear of having an accident.  Maybe you’ve kept your secret hidden from family members and loved ones because you are embarrassed.  Maybe you’ve spent another full year silently suffering.

Our question to you, then, would be this:  Why?  Why would you let your incontinence control you….your work….your family…..your life?  There are so many treatment options for incontinence that no one should have to suffer in silence.  Everyone deserves to live a full life ruled not by their embarrassments, shame and fear, but by their loves, interests and passions.

We get it – first steps are hard.  They require you to be brave, and open and honest.  They make you vulnerable.  They force you to trust-fall into life’s unknowns.  But trust us when we tell you:  they are so worth it.  

We challenge you this next year to take action.  Any action!  Open up to a friend about incontinence, talk to your doctor, go see a physical therapist – do something!  Because really, the alternative is no longer an option if you want to start living the life that you want. 

And, we have a sneaking suspicion that the moment you take that first step you will find that it wasn’t so difficult after all. 

 

Bring physical therapy into that family get together (5 PT friendly exercises you can do with your family)

Sarah Jenkins

The holiday season can be one of blessings and abundance. But, all the celebration – or the preparation for the celebrations – can leave one feeling stressed. Getting multiple families together can be challenging but the reward is often great.  But what to do about the tension of arranging these get-togethers? How about thinking about exercise as a great stress buster. Instead of reaching for that extra cocktail during your family get together why not think about a few PT-approved exercises you can do with the whole family during the holiday season to stay happy and healthy.

ONE. Walk Together

A brisk walk is good for your heart. And as a bonus, you may get a good a heart-to-heart chat in while exercising your muscles, lungs and building bone mass. This is one of the best ways to burn off all those extra calories that are generally consumed this time of year. J

TWO. Take a Deep Breath

Deep breathing not only helps keep you relaxed but also keeps your lungs healthy. Germs tend to bred in our climate controlled indoor environments. But, taking a deep breath especially outdoors can help keep the lungs clear and can be calming.

THREE: Laugh a little

Laughter can be good for the soul. A good belly roll can relax the shoulders and is a great abdominal and pelvic floor exercise. So, put in a comedy, play some cards or relive old stories about Uncle Dave wearing dirty underwear. Just let the good times roll, or belly roll for that matter.

FOUR: Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes, Knees and Toes

Challenge the young and older family members in playing Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes. Believe me – the preschool-aged family members will know this sing-song of a game. Here is how it goes. Sing … head, shoulder, etc while touching your head, then shoulders with both hands. Each time around sing faster. It will be great to keep the joints moving and is a guaranteed way to get everyone laughing.

FIVE:  Water. Would anyone like water?

Dehydration. Stress. Full tummy. Can be a trifecta that can aggravate incontinence. So, let’s enjoy a glass of water or two to every glass of wine, beer or cocktail. You can do it. You will feel better and your bladder will thank you for it.

Happy Holidays! 

About the Author, Michelle Herbst:  I am a wife and mother with a passion of helping women live to their fullest potential.  I am a women’s health physical therapist and for nearly decade have helped women with musculoskeletal conditions during their pregnancies, postpartum period and into their golden years.

NAFC Do's and Don'ts

Sarah Jenkins

The holidays are here, and if you suffer from incontinence (or care for someone who does), you know that these can be trying times.  We’ve outlined tips in the past on how to deal with the holidays (here and here ), so this year we’re going to do something a little different.  As we come off of our BE STRONG campaign from November, we want to keep the momentum going and encourage you to live your best life, no matter what time of year it is.  So read below for some extra tips and inspiration this season, and for the year to come.

NAFC’s Do’s and Don’ts

1.     Don’t be uninformed, BE SMART!

Having incontinence is NOT a normal part of aging, as it turns out.  Think you’ve tried everything?  You probably haven’t.  There are literally hundreds of treatment options available.  Educate yourself on the different types of incontinence and learn about treatment options that may work for you.  Being educated is half the battle

 

2.     Don’t be quiet, BE BOLD!

Living with incontinence?  Talk about it!  Inspire others by sharing your story!  Whatever you do though, please - don’t be quite.  This is a condition that needs to be discussed.  With over 25 million Americans living with some type of incontinence, you are not alone, and there is comfort in numbers.  Help us make this a less taboo subject so that no one is afraid to seek help.

 

3.     Don’t be afraid, BE BRAVE!

It takes the average patient around 6 years to bring up the subject of incontinence with their doctor.  Imagine what you are missing out on in 6 years!!  We think the freedom gained from living a life without fear of accidents is worth more than one embarrassing discussion (which, as it turns out is not even that embarrassing – trust us, your doctor has heard it all before!).  Be brave and take action – get the help you need to get on with your life.

 

4.     Don’t be judgmental, BE EMPATHETIC!

We get it – caring for an incontinent loved one can be difficult.  Especially if that person is unwilling to seek help or dismisses their incontinence.  But try to shield them from your frustrations and be empathetic toward their plight – it is likely that they know all too well that they have this problem, yet are not sure how to talk about it or manage it.  Going to the bathroom on your own is something that we are used to doing by ourselves and when that function suddenly becomes out of our control, it can be very embarrassing and humbling.  Have some compassion for those you care for with this problem and try to speak with them about it in a way that will foster discussion, not make them feel ashamed.

 

5.     Don’t be meek, BE STRONG!           

If we could offer only one piece of advice to you, this would be it.  BE STRONG!  In everything you do, please BE STRONG.  Build strength in your knowledge of incontinence and treatment options.  Strengthen your resolve to speak up about this condition – both for yourself, and others.  Build up your physical strength to help you not only ease the symptoms, but possibly eliminate them completely.  BE STRONG!  Because you’ll find that when you start to build up strength in all of these areas of your life, your resolve to live life on your terms, not on incontinences’, becomes stronger too. 

 

What inspiration will you take with you this holiday season?

All I Want For Christmas Is A Dry Bed

Sarah Jenkins

My name is Sandy, and I wet the bed.  Not every night, but at least twice a week.  Sometimes, the effect is minimal – just a small leak in my underwear as I’m racing to make it to the restroom.  Other times though, well, let’s just say I’ve started sleeping on a waterproof pad at night.

Bedwetting as an adult is one of the most embarrassing things I have gone through.  I didn’t always suffer from this problem, but a weakened pelvic floor seems to be my “gift” after birthing 2 kids.  My husband is very supportive, but I can tell that it bothers him, too.  The constant laundering of bedclothes, waking up occasionally to wetness – it takes its toll emotionally, physically, and financially.  Not only do we both lose sleep on these nights, we have spent a small fortune trying to manage the condition.  Waterproof pads, disposable adult diapers and absorbent products, bedwetting alarms – we’ve tried them all and while they all have their varying degrees of success, it doesn’t really cure the problem.  I still wet the bed.

And yet, even as bedwetting has cost me sleep, money, and my dignity, I have waited years to see a doctor.  I guess I’ve just always felt it was embarrassing enough to share it with my husband, let alone someone I don’t really know very well.  So I lived in a silent hell for the past few years, often trying to hide it from my husband as much as I am able to, and praying each night that it will be a dry one. 

But I’m through with wishing and hoping.  I finally summoned the courage to make an appointment with a urologist to talk about this problem, and guess what…..HE WAS NOT PHASED IN THE LEAST!  He told me that he sees patients like me all the time and there are actually many options available to bedwetters, depending on the cause of their condition.  Telling him was a huge weight off my shoulders too – finally sharing this with someone else and having them understand, plus hearing that there are others like me was a big relief.  And, for once I have hope that there may be something that I can do to get my condition under control, which is truly empowering.


While he outlined many types of treatments I could try, I’m starting with physical therapy to hopefully regain some of the muscle control that I have lost over the years from childbirth.  And if that doesn’t work, there are medications, and even surgery that may help.  I feel so much more confident now that I have taken action and am on a path to fix my problem.  And while I am definitely not there yet, I am hopeful that the new year will bring what I want most – a dry bed.


Millions of Americans live with adult bedwetting (nocturnal enuresis).  It is an embarrassing and sometimes debilitating condition for many.  But there are treatment options available.  Talk to a specialist to learn more about what you can do to treat this issue and get your life back.  Need help finding a specialist near you?  Visit the NAFC Specialist Locator to find one in your area.

Our Wishlist This Year

Sarah Jenkins

While the holidays are generally a time for giving, there’s no reason you can’t treat yourself to something new this season – especially if it helps you manage your incontinence.  So do yourself a favor and take a peak at some of our favorite products to hit the shelves recently.

PeriCoach™

The PeriCoach™ System is a personalized device, web portal, and smart phone app for pelvic floor muscle training. Designed for home use, it is the first system that includes a device, an app providing instruction and real-time feedback and a connection that enables patient management by clinicians remotely. We love this product for its ease of use and the ability to see your results and improvements in your own home.

Carin Incontinence Underwear

Developed by LifeSense, the Carin Incontinence Underwear combines smart textile technology that protects the wearer from any leaks and odors.  Carin combines a miniature sensor and mobile app that together track urine loss related to specific activities.  Based on your results, the program then provides you with a personalized training program of pelvic floor exercises.  Plus, these undies are super attractive!

Impressa® Bladder Supports

This new product from Poise is designed for women to temporarily manage Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), and helps stop leaks before they happen.  Impressa® Bladder Supports are available over the counter and are inserted into the vagina like a tampon to gently lift and give support to the urethra, which helps prevent urine from leaking.  Impressa® Bladder Supports come in various sizes so you may need to experiment a bit to find the size that works best for you.

Just For Men Variety Pack

If you are a man who is just starting to experience incontinence, or haven’t yet found a product that you feel comfortable with, this pack is for you.  Just For Men Variety Pack from HDIS gives you 2 samples of 5 different types of absorbent products which allows you to find the one that best fits your individual needs, without heavily investing in a full box of each product.

Just Go Girl™ Athletic Leak Pads

These pads were designed with the active women in mind.  Customers rave about Just Go Girl’s™ absorbent, lightweight and comfortable design.  The pad is very absorbent for moderate protection, yet isn’t visible under tight fitting workout clothes, which makes it a great choice for those who experience slight leakage while working out.

Menalind® professional cleansing products

Developed by Hartmann, Menalind® products help cleanse and protect skin from incontinence related issues.  The products use gentler detergents, adds almond oil to help moisturize, adjusts to the skins ph, and facilitates skin regeneration.  All helpful when you are trying to keep your skin healthy.

Do you have a favorite product you use for incontinence management?  Share it with us in the comments below!

Combating Odors During Holiday Get-Togethers

Sarah Jenkins

The holidays are here and that means that for most of us, we’ll be attending at least one or two social gatherings in the next few weeks.  Whether it’s a company holiday party or a festive lunch over at your in-laws, there will be much time for merry-making.  That is, unless you are dealing with odor-issues from incontinence.  Luckily there are many easy ways you can manage this embarrassing side-effect that will have you enjoying the festivities until the last bite of fruitcake has been eaten.

1.  Reduce The Smell:  It makes sense that if your urine doesn’t smell, you’ll drastically reduce the chance of an odor if/when you have a leak.  Simple things like changing your diet (asparagus=out; cranberry juice=in), drinking more water to dilute your urine, and getting checked for an infection (which can sometimes cause urine to have a strong odor) all help alleviate smell.

2. Maintain Good Hygiene:  Keeping yourself clean is half the battle.  If you have an accident, change your clothes immediately and wash yourself well.  The same goes for any urine collection devices.  Make sure that you are completely cleansing any reusable parts appropriately. 

3.  Find Products Designed To Help:  Some absorbent products actually contain odor-reducing materials that can help keep odor from leaks at bay. 

4.  Cleanse Your Space:  If you’re hosting the party, you may need to think about more than just your clothes.  Wash your bed sheets often (and as soon as possible after an accident) using white vinegar, baking soda, or even ammonia as a booster (never combine them though!).  Invest in an air freshener to eliminate smell, and always clean up any leaks from other surfaces in your home as soon as they happen.

Follow these tips and you’ll be ready to hit the party circuit in style – and odor free!

We want to hear from you!  What other tips do you have for managing incontinence-related odors?  Share them in the comments below!

Tools to keep around if you care for someone with incontinence

Steve Gregg

If you are a new caregiver to a patient with incontinence or your family member just recently developed bladder and bowel problems, you’ll want to consider keeping supplies at the ready to help you address this condition.

In many cases, your family member or patient won’t be entirely comfortable with their situation and may attempt to thwart help or assistance. If that engagement leads to leaks or uncomfortable situations, it’s your job to be prepared and help them clean up in a dignified way.

We recommend having the following supplies ready or knowing where to get them easily:

  1. Rug pads: Individuals with nocturia or overactive bladder are very susceptible to falling from incontinence in an effort to get to the restroom quickly. Make sure the rugs in the house and bathroom are padded underneath to avoid slippage.
     

  2. Absorbent products: Many times, leakage or bladder spasms occur when the individual is in transfer, or is moving from place to place. Be at the ready to respond to these needs with an appropriate product.
     

  3. Water: Dehydration can be a catalyst for frequent urination and in some cases, urinary tract infections. Avoid your patient or family member experiencing either by encouraging and modeling enough water intake. Click here for guides on how to drink more water.
     

  4. Bladder or Bowel Diary: Managing physical and dietary responses to bladder and bowel concerns is a proven way to help manage incontinence. Help your loved one or patient track their urination, bowel movements, and intake of food and water by keeping the diaries available and ready for updates. Download the diaries here.

We hope these tips can help you be the best assistant in their journey. Are there any tools you’ve already found helpful to have?

 

Being Thankful

Sarah Jenkins

Have you ever truly thought about what it means to be thankful?  Sure, holidays kind of force us to think about it a little bit – we all sit around the Thanksgiving table and talk about all the things we are grateful for in our lives.  But it’s so easy to let that feeling slip away after the holidays pass.  Our busy lives catch up with us and we are suddenly back in the throes of long work hours, schedules, and all the obligations that we face on a daily basis that can cause frustration and angst. 

I’ve been thinking a lot about thankfulness lately after seeing a recent TED talk.  In it, the speaker, Shawn Achor, discusses three things that you can do to encourage your brain to work more optimistically and more successfully. 

The first is to start a journal and write down three things that you are grateful for each day.  Performing this exercise allows you to relive the good feelings that you had when you first had those experiences. 

Second, take just 10 minutes each day to meditate.  Meditation allows us to clear our minds, and focus on the task at hand.  (Need some tips on meditating?  Click here.) 

Finally, performing one random act of kindness each day will help you to better appreciate others, gives you a warm feeling inside, and open you up to better relationships with friends, family and colleagues.  And it doesn’t have to cost you a thing – something as simple as sending one email to someone you care about each day thanking them, praising them for a job well done, or telling them how much they mean to you can do the trick.

Perform these steps for 21 days in a row and research shows that you will be poised for happiness and success.  And that’s something that we can all be thankful for.