'

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.

28 Society Street
Charleston, SC, 29401
United States

800-252-3337

NAFC is a non-profit offering resources for #incontinence, #bladderleakage, bedwetting, OAB, SUI, nocturia, neurogenic bladder, and pelvic floor disorders.

Incontinence Stories From Experts & Real People | NAFC BHealth Blog

Log in daily to learn tips about #incontinence, #bladder leakage, overcoming symptoms, and first hand accounts from experts and patients.

 

Bedwetting In Teens - Possible Causes And What To Do About It

Sarah Jenkins

Bedwetting In Teens - Causes and Solutions

Do you have a teen who is still wetting the bed? You’re not alone. Many teens struggle with nocturnal enuresis, a fancy term for nighttime bedwetting. And while it can be frustrating and emotionally draining for both you, and your teen, most of the time, they will grow out of it.

There are several reasons a teenager may be struggling with staying dry at night:

  • They have a small bladder.
  • They are deep sleepers.
  • They are constipated.
  • There is a family history of bedwetting.
  • They produce too much urine overnight
  • They are experiencing a stressful situation or a big change (new school, change in family dynamic, trouble with friends, etc.)

All of these things may contribute to a teens bedwetting problem.  So, what can you do to help them?  The first course of action is to contact a physician as soon as you can to help set up a treatment plan.  Be supportive of your teen and try not to make a big deal out of it – it’s very likely that your teen is already extremely embarrassed about wetting the bed. Talk with them about it, and show them how to clean themselves, and their bedding when they have an accident. You don’t want to encourage them to hide their problem, but constantly having to ask you for help may make them feel even more embarrassed.  Below is a list of several options to consider if your teenager is still wetting the bed.

Try a bedwetting alarm.

These alarms detect moisture and can alert a teen if they are starting to have an accident. Over time, this can help condition them to wake up and use the bathroom when they need to go.

Bladder retraining.

Just like other muscles in the body, the bladder can be trained to empty at specific times. Learn more about how to retrain your bladder here. 

Medications.

There are several medications that can help with bedwetting in teens and adults. Talk to your doctor to see if this may be a good option for your teen.

Limit fluids before bedtime.

Try to avoid drinking too much about an hour before bedtime, and always be sure to empty your bladder prior to going to bed.

Try the NAFC Dry Night Solution Kit.

Sometimes, the right protection can make all the difference. NAFC's Bedwetting kit allows you to try out several products at a very low price, making it a great way to find out what works for you. Learn more here.

Patient Perspective - Teen Bedwetting

Sarah Jenkins

Patient Perspective - teen bedwetting

I’m sharing this story as an adult, but it is really about my childhood. I suffered from bedwetting when I was young and it lasted until I was almost a teenager.  I was lucky enough to have very supportive parents, but that didn’t stop the shame I felt every time it happened. It never felt like a big deal until I was around 7. Then I started getting invited to sleep overs, which were always very stressful for me. I was constantly scared of wetting the bed at someone else’s house and of my friends learning my secret. I started to turn down invitations simply because of my fear, and the problem began to effect me emotionally. Luckily, my bedwetting slowed down a lot after I was around 9, but I still had an occasional accident through age 12.

I’m not sure what I would have done I hadn’t had such wonderful parents to help me through it. They never made me feel bad about it, and always were as discreet as possible when helping me clean up after an accident. Their support took a lot of the pressure off of me, which I think would have only added to my problem back then. I now have a 3-year old myself, and, knowing that they could possibly experience prolonged bedwetting (after all – it is hereditary) shows me how stressful it can be for a parent. If you are a parent of a young child reading this, please take this one thing away:  Support your child, even if their problem has caused you countless sleepless nights, extra loads of laundry, and profound frustrations. I can tell you first-hand that it likely pales in comparison to the shame they’ve felt themselves. And the support and understanding you can give to them during this time will do wonders for their self-esteem and sense of wellbeing. They will remember it forever – I know I have.

Terry B., Salt Lake City, Utah

Need a solution for nighttime bedwetting? Try NAFC's Bedwetting Kit, available here.

Bedwetting In Children - Tips For Managing And Overcoming

Sarah Jenkins

tips for bedwetting in children

Many parents often cheer once they’ve successfully trained their child to stay dry during the day – and rightfully so! This is a big accomplishment for both you, and your little one! But it can be frustrating for parents when their child is still unable to stay dry at night. It’s important to note that this is not your child’s fault – the functions that a child needs to stay dry at night take a bit longer to develop, and every child develops them at their own pace. Think of it as Potty Training – Round 2.  Parents should work with their children and support them in this sometimes-difficult next step of potty training. Here are 5 things to remember when working with your child to stay dry through the night: 

It’s Not Their Fault. 

Wetting the bed is a common condition, and it’s in no way your child’s fault.  For a child to stay dry at night, several things need to happen, all of which are really out of their control. The signals between the brain and the bladder need time to fully develop. Their bladder capacity needs to be large enough to hold urine for the entire night. Finally, they need to be able to wake up when the urge to urinate strikes. All of these things take time to develop. Remember – bedwetting is normal in children up to 5 years of age, and is still quite common in children from 5-10 years old.

Don’t blame your child and encourage them when they do well. 

No child wants to wet the bed, and as we just discussed, they truly cannot help doing it.  Don’t make your child feel ashamed or guilty for wetting the bed as this may only prolong the problem. Instead, talk to them about how this problem is normal for kids their age, don’t make a big deal of it if they wet the bed, and offer plenty of praise and reward if they wake up dry.

Empty their bladder before bed. 

Always take your child to the bathroom before bed. You may even want to take your child to the bathroom once more when you yourself go to bed just to see if they can go one more time before a full nights sleep.  Limiting fluids an hour or so before bed can also help keep their bladder empty before a long night.

Talk to their doctor.

Talk to your pediatrician and rule out any potential medical causes that may be keeping your child from staying dry at night. Constipation, which can press on the bladder and reduce bladder capacity, is a common culprit. Other medical conditions, such as UTIs, diabetes, sleep apnea, and even stress can all contribute to bedwetting.

Try a bedwetting alarm.

A bedwetting alarm senses moisture and then alerts the child – through an actual alarm, or through a vibrating sensor. There are several different types that make it easy to choose one that works best for your child, and they can help condition your child to wake up when they feel like they need to empty their bladder. 

Take protective measures.

Make it as easy as possible to clean up any accidents when they happen. Use a waterproof mattress to protect the bed. Have an extra set of pajamas ready to change into just in case.  Put a waterproof pad down on top of the sheets, which is easy to switch out if an accident happens. And don’t be afraid to use pullups if you need to.

Remember, it is completely normal for a child to experience bedwetting accidents – even up to 10 years of age. But rest assured that the majority of children will grow out of this phase. Being supportive and encouraging their successes will help make the process much easier for both you, and your child.

Potty Training: What's Normal And What's Not

Sarah Jenkins

Potty Training - What's Normal And What's Not

Potty training can be difficult for both parent and child. Just when you think you’ve mastered it, your child may do something completely unexpected that makes you second-guess throwing out all those old diapers after all.  But most of the time, the things you may be worried about are completely normal and not a cause for concern. Read on for explanations on typical potty training setbacks, and what you can do about them.

“My daughter was doing great, but recently has wanted had a lot of trouble staying dry and is asking to use diapers again. What’s going on?” 

This is called regression and is completely normal. There is no single cause of regression, but it can often happen in times of transition. Is there a new sibling in the house, new school, or other changes happening? These types of changes can cause a potential regression in potty training.  The answer could also be medical – many kids with constipation have bladder leaks. Talk with your doctor if you think your child may be constipated to see what you can do to fix the problem. Sticking with your potty training routine is key to reverse the regression – inconsistency will only cause the regression to last longer. So keep up the timed potty usage (every 2 hours is a good rule to follow), make sure to have your child go before going out and before bed.  Find ways to motivate her to use the potty again – sticker charts, treasure boxes, or other rewards usually work great. Be patient with her and before you know it she’ll be back on track.

“My son has been completely dry during the day from months but still continues to wet the bed at night.”

It is very common for children to master daytime use of the potty first. Staying dry through the night typically comes a while after that, sometimes even years after.  Nighttime training should be looked at as “round 2” of potty training. It is much harder for children to master than daytime dryness, and some children simply take a little longer to develop the physical changes needed to stay dry at night. 

Once your child has been able to wake up dry five mornings in a row, it’s a good time to let him try wearing underwear to bed (be sure to use protective bedding, such as plastic bedcovers or waterproof pads). But don’t pressure him, and don’t reprimand him if he has an accident – bedwetting is involuntary and not their fault.  And if he starts having more accidents at night, don’t be afraid to go back to pull ups. He may just need a little more time to develop.

“My daughter seems to have random accidents all the time, even though she has been potty trained for a while.”

Accidents will happen from time to time, and that’s completely normal. Many kids will actually put off going, or simply forget about it, because they are too absorbed with playing.  The easiest way to fix this is to keep her on a schedule – take regular potty breaks, and ask her periodically if she needs to go. You can also watch for cues that she may need to go - holding herself or dancing around - and take her to the bathroom if she’s demonstrating any.  Consistency is key and often just little reminders can help remedy the issue.

“My son is 3 and shows absolutely no interest in using the potty. Will he ever be ready?”

Every child is different and kids become ready for potty training at different times – there is no hard and fast rule that says a child should be potty trained by a certain age. Be patient with your child and try to encourage his interest by reading him books about the potty, taking him to the bathroom when you need to go (or seeing that Daddy goes too!) buying new “big boy undies” and even familiarizing him with a training potty. Don’t push him – it is harder to train a child who isn’t ready and will only cause frustration for you both. Don’t worry – he’ll get their in his own time.

Above all, with any of the issues above, try your hardest to not reprimand your child when he or she has an accident. Potty training is a huge milestone for kids and making them feel bad can cause real setbacks in their training (and resistance from your child). Be understanding when they have an accident, and praise them when they succeed. More than anything, they need to know that you are on their team and are rooting for their success.

Ask The Expert: My Son Is Four And Still Isn't Fully Potty Trained. When Should I Start Worrying?

Sarah Jenkins

Question: My son is four and still isn’t fully potty trained. When should I start worrying?

Answer: Your question is a common one. As parents, we want the best for our kids, and while there are common ages for certain developmental milestones, it doesn’t mean that every child will follow them to a tee. Four is still young, and it’s common for boys to take a bit longer to learn to use the bathroom regularly without accidents. Even those who are fully potty trained can still experience the occasional accident at four, five and even six. 


Be patient with your child and follow their cue – most children will show signs that they’re ready for potty training (asking questions, wanting to watch, or even sitting on the potty themselves are all great indicators that they are getting curious). Encourage your child - praise them when they make it to the potty, and don’t scold them or act disappointed when they don’t. Once the process has started, know that accidents will still happen, but the majority of kids grow out of this eventually. If your child is in preschool, ask his teachers to help with the process – they may have some new tips to share and many kids often are encouraged to use the potty when they see their friends doing it too.

If you’ve followed our potty training tips, aren’t seeing the results that you’d expect and are still worried, it’s best to consult your child’s pediatrician. There may be a medical reason that is preventing your son from using the potty. The pediatrician will likely ask you lots of questions, and work with you over time until your child is able to master using the potty.

How Much Water Should You Drink When You Have Incontinence?

Sarah Jenkins

How Much Water Should You Drink When You Have Incontinence?

When you have incontinence, you’ll do anything to avoid having an embarrassing accident. And it may seem logical to think that restricting fluids will help you avoid one. While cutting back a little may help, it also may hurt you. Drinking too little can cause dehydration, which means your body can’t function like it should. When you don’t drink enough your urine also can become very concentrated, which can cause bladder irritation (meaning that it may actually cause you to have an accident). And, if you do leak, concentrated urine has a much stronger smell, which may make your leak more noticeable to others. The tip is finding that right balance between too much and too little. Below are some tips on how much you should be drinking, and how to find your magic number.

Drink Enough To Stay Hydrated.

This will vary from person to person, but for most, 6-88oz glasses per day is enough.  You can also look to your own urine for clues on if you are well-hydrated – in general, lighter colored urine means your more hydrated and darker, yellow colored urine means your urine is very concentrated and you may need to drink more.

Use A Bladder Diary.

A bladder diary is a great tool to track the relationship between what you eat and drink and your incontinence. Use it for a few days and pay close attention to how your fluid intake plays a role in any accidents or urges you may have. This will give you a good indication on whether or not your drinking too much or too little as it relates to your incontinence.

Limit Fluids Before Bedtime.

If you suffer from nocturia or bedwetting, try limiting the fluids you drink before bedtime. While you don’t want to limit your water intake too much throughout the day, keeping fluids to a minimum an hour or so before bed may help curb some of the nightly bathroom trips you’ve been making.

Pay attention to what you drink. 

Water is always a good choice, but other drinks may actually cause you to go more simply because of what’s in them. Minimize caffeinated, sugary and carbonated drinks. And decrease or eliminate alcohol consumption.  All of these have been known to irritate the bladder.

If you’re thirsty – DRINK! 

Cutting back on fluids, especially when you’re thirsty, can cause dehydration and lead to more problems. Your body needs water to function well and thirst is the number one indicator that you need to drink more. Keep this in mind especially when it’s hot outside, or you’re working up a sweat in the gym – listen to your body and never put off your thirst because you’re scared of having an accident.

Remember, everyone is different so there is no one right amount that you should be drinking. Experiment and find out what works best for you, and most importantly, pay attention to your body and stay healthy.

Want to learn about some ways to fit more water into your daily routine? Read this:  How To Drink More Water

NAFC's Top 10 Tips For Potty Training Your Toddler

Sarah Jenkins

10 Tips For Potty Training

Teaching your child to use the potty is a big challenge, but it also comes with big rewards. No more diapers, more independence for your little one, and maybe even a bit more sanity for you at the end of the day.

But where do you start? And when? These answers will vary from family to family because (as we’re sure you know by now, every child is different) what works for some kids may not work for everyone. But, as long as your child seems ready to start trying, (2.5 – 3 is an average age for kids to start, although some may be ready to start as early as 18 months) give some of the tips below a try. Before you know it, you’re little one will be a pro on the potty

Tip #1:  Make sure they are ready.

Look for clues that your child is ready to start this process. Things like asking to be changed, showing an interest in bathroom habits (even yours!), and telling you when they have to go to the bathroom are good signs that they may be ready to start trying.

Tip #2: Get them comfortable.

Some kids have a fear of the toilet –them their own training potty that is just their size will not only make it feel more comfortable for them, they can practice sitting in it in other, more comfortable places your home to really make them feel at ease and prepare them for the next step – actually going!

Tip #3: Let them go naked.

Part of the problem with potty training in a pull-up is that it’s not that much different than a diaper. And kids are typically so used to going in their diaper they may not even remember or think to tell you when they have to use the potty. When they’re naked, they have no choice. Start by letting them be naked for a bit before or after bathtime and encourage them to try to use the potty. Then, when you’re feeling brave enough, let them go for longer, extended periods when you’re home. (But be sure to expect a few accidents along the way as they get used to knowing when they have to go.) Most kids don’t want to have an accident so after one or two, they’ll typically start telling you when they have to go.

Tip #4: Schedule regular potty time.

This can be a time consuming process, but scheduling potty time every 20-30 minutes can be really helpful in helping a child learn. It gives them plenty of practice using the restroom and helps set them up for success by instilling mandatory potty breaks in short intervals. The more they are able to successfully go on their own, the more likely they will be to continue.

Tip #5: Rewards.

We hate to say it, but bribes work. Giving your child a small reward each time they successfully use the potty can be a huge motivator for them. Some families choose sweet treats (M&M’s are a favorite), but you don’t have to resort to sugar to make this work. Fill a box with small inexpensive toys (stickers, erasers, etc.) and let your child choose from the box after a pre-defined number of successful potty trips. Get some cool “big-kid underwear” as an incentive for getting out of pull ups. Kids also love to see their progress so using something like a sticker chart where they can track their success over time can be a great motivator.

Tip #6: Read to them.

It can sometimes be hard to get kids to stay on the potty long enough for them to actually go. Reading can be a huge help. Pick out some favorite books, or some get a few new ones from the library, and read to your little one during their scheduled potty times. They’ll start to look forward to going, and you’ll be getting in some extra reading time at the same time! Win-win!

Tip #7: Praise their progress.

Kids, just like adults, love to hear that they’re doing a good job. Praise their accomplishments and their efforts to keep their momentum going, and to encourage them when they’re feeling frustrated.

Tip #8: All or nothing.

Try just putting them in underwear for a long weekend and see what happens. Some parents swear by this method, although it’s not for everyone. This usually works best if you have a dedicated few days where you can commit to staying at home (and are comfortable with cleaning up a few messes).

Tip #9: Be prepared for a possible regression.

Sometimes kids can be doing great with potty training, only to have a setback after a few months. This is normal and shouldn’t be anything to worry about. Be understanding with your child – showing your frustrations can only make them feel worse and may lead to more accidents. Try to figure out why the setbacks are occurring (is your family going through a transition in any way or does your child have any medical issues, like constipation, that could be causing the regression). Once things have settled down or you’ve identified and treated the problem, your child should return to potty training again.

Tip #10: Be patient.

Remember that potty training is a process, and, despite some programs that claim they will potty train in a short amount of time, it often takes several weeks to months for your child to become dry regularly. Be patient with them as they learn to master this and provide as much love and support as you can to help them along.

Have any of your own potty training tips to share? We’d love to hear them in the comments section below!

When Should You Start Potty Training Your Toddler?

Sarah Jenkins

Potty Training - When To Start

Potty Training your little one is a big step, and one that can happen at different times for different kids.  There is no one magic timeline since each child is unique. Some toddlers are ready to begin the process as early as 18 months, although a very small percentage of children under 24 months are fully potty trained. Two and a half, or even three years old, is a typical age for kids to start.

Look for the following signs to see if your child is ready to start potty training.

  1. They show interest in the bathroom. Is your child telling you when they are wet? Do they want to watch you go to the bathroom? Are they asking to wear underwear or big-kids pants? These are all signs that they are may be ready to start potty training.
  2. Their patterns become more regular. They have bowel movements at about the same time each day, no bowel movements at night, and can go for at least a couple of hours at a time without having a wet diaper, which means their bladder muscles are able to hold urine.
  3. They are emotionally ready. Kids who have no interest in using the potty, don’t want to wear underwear, and generally don’t mind being in a wet diaper are probably not yet ready to start the process. 
  4. They are physically ready. It takes some coordination to use the toilet. Kids must be able to walk, sit down, remove clothing, climb up to the toilet, and tell their parent or caregiver that they need to use the potty.

It’s important to reiterate that every child is different and to follow your child’s lead. Girls are often potty trained faster than boys. And if you have multiple children, younger siblings may benefit from seeing their older siblings go through the process, making it go more quickly for them. But watch for the signs listed above - starting to potty train before your child is ready will cause frustrations for you both, and will often take longer than if you had waited for them to show more interest.  Also know that it’s common for a child to master using the potty during the day, but still have some trouble staying dry at night. Nightime training often takes a bit longer– sometimes even a few years after daytime dryness has been established.

Think your little one is ready to start easing their way out of diapers? Here are our best tips for successful potty training.

 

What Is A Gynecologist?

Sarah Jenkins

What Is A Gynecologist?

Many women are familiar with OB/GYNs, but what is a Gynecologist, and how is it different?

What Is A Gynecologist?

A Gynecologist is a doctor that specializes in women’s health, especially as it relates to reproductive organs. Obstetricians are doctors that are specialized in caring for pregnant women. While the two fields are separate, many Gynecologists specialize in both, which is why you often see OB/GYN listed as it’s own specialty.

What Conditions Do Gynecologists Treat?

Gynecologists can treat any issue that relates to a woman’s reproductive organs, but also treats women’s general health issues as well. Some of the things that gynecologists may treat include the following:

  • Pregnancy (if specialized in obstetrics
  • Cancers (such as HPV breast, or ovarian cancer)
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Prolapse
  • Bladder issues, including incontinence
  • Menopause symptoms

How Often Should I See A Gynecologist?

Women should see their gynecologist once a year for regular exams, but visits may be more frequent if they are experiencing problems, or if they are pregnant. This goes for women at any age from teens to older women.

But I’ve Already Gone Through Menopause. Do I Really Still Have To See A Gynecologist?

Yes! In fact, regular screenings are just as important now as they were when you were younger. You should also still receive pelvic exams – even if you’re not getting a Pap smear – to check for things like sexually transmitted diseases, and any signs of cancer. In addition, incontinence or prolapse can also be big concerns as women get older. Don’t just assume that these are a normal part of aging and that nothing can be done. Your gynecologist can work with you to develop a treatment plan for these conditions, and recommend surgery if it is needed and desired. 

What To Expect At Your Gynecologist Visit

At your first visit, your gynecologist will want to get your medical history, and will likely do a pelvic examination. He or she may also do a breast check, to check for any unusual lumps. If they don’t instruct you how to do your own, ask them. Women should perform regular checks for breast lumps on their own outside of their yearly exams so they know what is normal, and can recognize when something seems unusual.

After that, your yearly exams will be pretty routine, unless you have an issue or if you are pregnant. Once you get older, your doctor will talk with you about menopause, the changes and symptoms you may be experiencing, and how to treat them. Your gynecologist will also perform regular checks of the ovaries, vagina, bladder, rectum, and your uterus. A lot can still happen in your later years, including various cancers, STDs, vaginal tears (due to increased dryness of the vaginal walls), incontinence, or prolapse, so it’s important to keep up with those regular routine exams.

 

 

 

A Guide To Talking To Your Doctor About Bladder Leakage

Sarah Jenkins

A Guide To Talking To Your Doctor About Bladder Leakage

Taking the first step in talking to your doctor about bladder or bowel issues is hard, but it’s a necessary part of getting treatment. Make the leap and find a specialist today so that you can start getting this problem under control and living your life again.

Prepare For Your Visit

Preparing for your visit and knowing what to expect can help make this conversation a bit less intimidating. Make sure you read up on the conditions and treatment options available so that you know the right questions to ask your doctor. It may help to write your questions down ahead of time so that you don’t forget them during the appointment, when your nerves can get the better of you. It may also help to keep a bladder or bowel diary for a few days prior to your visit, so that you can give your doctor (and yourself!) a good glimpse into your bathroom patterns. By keeping a diary you may even start to see some common links associated between your habits (what you eat and drink) and your urges or leaks.

What To Expect At Your Appointment

You may be wondering what to expect when you see your doctor.  Here is a rundown on some things he or she may talk with you about or do during your appointment:

  1. Your symptoms. Your doctor will likely ask you to describe all the symptoms you are experiencing.  This is where your trusty bladder diary that you’ve been filling out will come in handy.  Review this with them and tell them anything else about your incontinence that is causing you trouble.  

  2. Your medical history. Your doctor will want to know about all of your medical history, particularly details of childbirth and any pelvic surgery.  Be sure to tell him or her about any other problems that may be related to your incontinence – bladder infections, difficulty urinating, neurologic problems such as back injury, stroke, or any gynecologic problems are all things that may play into your symptoms and help your doctor determine an appropriate treatment plan for you.
  3. Prior treatments for incontinence. Talk with your doctor about what you’ve done to treat your incontinence, and how it has worked for you.  Have you used medication?  Had surgery? Any other procedures?  He needs to know.
  4. Physical examination.  Your doctor will likely perform a physical examination.  He or she may test your urine for infection or other problems, catheterize you to determine if you are emptying the bladder completely, or examine you while coughing and straining to see if that has any effect on incontinence.  In more advanced cases, your doctor may also request that an X-ray or MRI of the bladder be done to get a better insight into what is happening.
  5. Your wishes.  It is important to note that while your doctor may suggest some options he or she feels are best for you, you have a strong say in your treatment plan too.  Voice any concerns you have about certain treatment options and ask about ones that you are interested in.  Not keen on medications? Tell him!  Want to see if physical therapy may help?  Ask more about this option.  Your wishes matter and your doctor will want to know the types of treatments you are willing to try.  After all, by setting you up with a treatment plan you are on board with, you’ll be more likely to stick with it and experience success, which is exactly what your doctor wants for you.  So speak up!

Be Open

Above all else, be as open and honest about your condition as you can be. This can be an embarrassing and hard conversation to have, but know that you are speaking with a medical professional whose job it is to have these discussions. And trust us, you are most certainly not the first patient, nor will you be the last, to have this conversation with them.  This is your chance – give them any and all information that may help them assemble the best plan possible for you.

Need some more inspiration to talk to your doctor? Check out these inspirational stories from people who made the leap!

The Doctor Guide: A Breakdown Of Different Specialties And When You Should See Them

Sarah Jenkins

The Doctor Guide: A Breakdown of Different Specialties And When You Should See Them

Have you been thinking about talking to a doctor about your bladder leakage problems, but just can’t muster the courage, or figure out exactly who you should talk to about it? You’re not alone. A recent poll from NAFC asked people who suffer from incontinence how long it took them to talk to their doctor.  Almost half of them waited at least a year before bringing it up (some as many as 6 + years!) and nearly 30% said they still hadn’t had the discussion.  We get it – incontinence can be an embarrassing subject to talk about – even with your doctor.  But the sooner you have the discussion, the sooner you can receive treatment. And besides, we’re pretty sure your doctor has probably had this discussion with many patients, many times before.

You may be wondering what type of doctor you should see.  That really depends.  Many primary care doctors treat incontinence and can be a good starting point, but for advanced treatment (especially if you are considering something like surgery), a urologist may be the better bet.  Here is a breakdown of some common specialties that treat incontinence.  Read through these and think about your own situation and treatment needs to determine the best option for you.

Family Medicine/Primary Care Physician.  

This type of doctor is a general practitioner and provides broad care to many acute, chronic and preventative medical conditions.  The Family Medicine doctor will help you identify the type of incontinence you have and talk with you about your options.  The family medicine doctor may prescribe medication or other treatment, or, for more advanced cases, refer you to a specialist focused in urology. 

Internist. 

Similar to Family Medicine doctors, Internists provide general care, but usually only to adults.  Internists can serve as a primary care physician, and provide comprehensive, long-term care for both common and complex diseases. 

Urologist. 

These doctors specialize in managing problems with the male and female urinary tract, and male reproductive organs.  Most urologists are surgeons, and many may specialize further in a sub-specialty, such as pediatrics, female urology or gynecology.

Urogynecologist.

An OB-GYN who has advanced training in pelvic floor dysfunction in women. Women with stress urinary incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse are often referred to a urogynecologist for treatment.

Physical Therapist.

Physical Therapists, or “PTs” that focus on women’s health often treat pelvic floor disorders, which cover a wide range of problems such as incontinence, pelvic pain, pelvic organ prolapse, or joint pain.  The focus of physical therapy is to strengthen and relax the muscles of the pelvic floor and to design physical activity programs that help the patient in these areas.

OBGYN. 

A doctor specialized in obstetrics and gynecology is a doctor who manages the reproductive health of women, family planning, pregnancy, and postnatal health. 

Gynecologist.  

A Gynecologist specializes in the reproductive health of women.  Some gynecologists have special training in diagnosing and treating urinary incontinence and prolapse (often urogynecologists).

Geriatrician. 

A geriatrician is a doctor that specializes in the care of older adults. They typically train as a family practitioner or internal medicine doctor, and then spend at least one extra year completing a geriatrics fellowship. Diseases, medications and illnesses can sometimes affect older people differently than younger patients, and a geriatrician is specially trained to handle these cases. Not everyone needs to see one though – if you have established a relationship with a family practitioner or internal medicine doctor and are happy with your care, feel free to continue! But, if as an older adult, you are suffering from a number of diseases or impairments (physical or cognitive) you may want to consult with a geriatrician who has received specialized training in treating patients over the age of 65.

Gastroenterologist. 

A gastroenterologist is a doctor that has received special training in managing diseases related to the gastrointestinal tract and liver. They study how materials move through the stomach, how they digest and absorb into the body, and then how they are removed as waste from the system. Gastroenterologists typically treat colon cancer, GERD (heartburn), hemorrhoids, bloody stool, ulcers, gallbladder issues, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and pancreatitis. You will typically be referred to a Gastroenterologist by your FP or internist if you experience any abnormalities related to your stools, or digestion, including blood in your stool, difficulty swallowing or abdominal pain. Additionally, many men and women over 50 receive screening for colon cancer from a gastroenterologist.

Dietitian. 

A dietitian is a health care professional that treats nutritional problems in patients. They typically work with both sick and healthy people to formulate food and nutrition plans for patients based on their conditions, and help them incorporate them into their lifestyle. Dietitians may be helpful to patients looking to modify their food intake to avoid bladder irritants.

Once you’ve determined the best doctor to see for your incontinence, it’s time to make an appointment!  Use the NAFC Specialist Locator to find a doctor near you and call them today.  You’ll be that much closer to managing and treating your symptoms.

The Perfect Dishes To Take To Your Summer Barbecue

Sarah Jenkins

Looking for a tasty dish to bring to your next barbecue? These 4 options are delicious, look amazing, and best of all are bladder friendly! Whip one up for your next soiree.

 

Tabbouleh with Watermelon, Martha Stewart

(Image credit: Martha Stewart) 

(Image credit: Martha Stewart) 

(Image credit: Faith Durand. Recipe originally appeared on thekitchn.com)

(Image credit: Faith Durand. Recipe originally appeared on thekitchn.com)

(Image credit: Erin Kunkel; Recipe created by Georgeanne Brennan, appeared on www.oprah.com)

(Image credit: Erin Kunkel; Recipe created by Georgeanne Brennan, appeared on www.oprah.com)

(Credit: Sheila Lukins, Parade July, 2007; appeared on www.epicurious.com)

(Credit: Sheila Lukins, Parade July, 2007; appeared on www.epicurious.com)

What are some of your favorite summer recipes? Tell us in the comments below! 

 

What Is A Pelvic Floor PT And How Can One Help Me?

Sarah Jenkins

Pelvic Floor physical therapy

Barbara Jennings was 6 weeks postpartum when she realized that something wasn’t right. “I had been feeling some pressure in my vagina for a while, but figured it was just a part of the normal healing process after vaginal delivery.” When she finally got the courage to explore a bit, she found something that surprised her. “I felt a smooth lump protruding slightly from the opening of my vagina. I was horrified, and so scared!” 

What Barbara was experiencing is called a pelvic organ prolapse, and it’s not uncommon. A prolapse happens when the vaginal walls become too week (due to things like childbirth) and the organs that are supported by them fall into the pelvic floor basket, sometimes protruding from the vagina. It’s not a curable condition, but can be improved by behavioral modifications, or surgery if necessary.

“After doing a lot of research, I learned that physical therapy could be done to help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and improve symptoms of prolapse”, said Barbara. “I had never even heard of physical therapy for that part of the body, but because I knew I didn’t want surgery, I signed right up.”

Women’s Health PTs are a thing, and they treat everything from prolapse, like Barbara experienced, to pelvic pain, incontinence, back pain, diastasis recti, and more.  But how do you know if you need one? And at what stage of life do you see them?

The first thing to know is that you can see a Woman’s Health PT at anytime. Whether you’re feeling some back pain during pregnancy, want to get checked out after baby arrives, or have difficulty picking up your grandkids without leaking, physical therapy is an option.  Improvements can be seen at any age, and most physical therapists would agree that it should be a first line of defense against leaks and pelvic floor disorders.  Medications and surgery are often thought of first when it comes to treatment, but when you commit to a physical therapy routine, you’re making the effort to strengthen your body yourself, which can alleviate a lot of pain and/or leakage on it’s own.  If you’re experiencing any kind of pelvic floor, back or hip pain, or if you have bladder leaks, call a physical therapist and get set up an appointment for an examination.

So, what can you expect when you visit? As with most doctor’s visits, you’re PT will ask you lots of questions about your medical history, and the symptoms you’re currently experiencing. You’ll also likely get a musculoskeletal evaluation, and if you are experiencing any pelvic floor dysfunction, an internal exam.

The internal exam sounds scarier than it actually is – rest assured your PT has performed many internal exams and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s a necessary step for them to determine the state of your pelvic floor muscles, and your treatment plan.

Multiple visits are usually required to assess your improvement over time, and to ensure that you are performing your exercises correctly. Treatment is considered complete when your symptoms have improved, although you may need to continue with your treatment plan even after you stop visiting your PT.

If you experience any type of pelvic floor related dysfunction, including pain, bladder leaks, or even if you experience back pain (those muscles are all connected after all!), don’t hesitate to see a PT. It’s often a good first line of defense for these issues and may resolve them better and more naturally than medications or surgery. “Even though my prolapse will never be completely “cured”, I have seen tremendous improvement in my symptoms since I started physical therapy”, says Barbara. “I’m so glad I looked to this option first.”

What Is A Urologist?

Sarah Jenkins

Urologist

While most people who experience bladder issues start with their primary doctor, a Urologist can be a great next step in determining more advanced treatment options. Here’s a breakdown of what urologist do, when to see them, what conditions they treat, and what you can expect at your appointment.

What is a Urologist?

A urologist is a specialist that treats diseases of the urinary tract in both men and women, and also the reproductive system in men. A urologist may generalize in all conditions, or they may specialize in a specific gender, pediatrics, neurological conditions, or oncology.

Urologists are required to complete four years of college, and then an additional four years of medical schooling. After that, they typically spend 4-5 years in a residency program, working with and learning from trained urologists.

What conditions do urologists treat?

Urologists can treat anything related to the urinary tract or male reproductive system. Some common conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Incontinence (Overactive bladder, urinary incontinence)
  • Bedwetting
  • Prolapse (women)
  • Prostate Health (BPH, prostate cancer)
  • Cancer (bladder, kidney, prostate, testicular)
  • Kidney diseases or stones
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Erectile dysfunction (men)
  • Infertility (men)
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)

A urologist will typically perform various tests to diagnose the condition, and may then suggest a number of different treatment options, potentially including surgery. Urologists are trained in performing specific types of surgery, such as sling procedures for urinary incontinence or prolapse, repairing urinary organs, removing blockages, vasectomy’s, removing tissue from enlarged prostates, or even removing the prostate all together.

When should I see a urologist?

Your primary care doctor may refer you to a urologist if they are not seeing improvements in your symptoms or it the problem requires more specialized care than they can provide.  If you experience any of the following, you may want to consult with a urologist:

  • Blood in the urine
  • Incontinence/Bladder Leakage
  • Prolapse
  • Pain in lower back , pelvis or sides
  • Painful urination
  • Problems with emptying your bladder
  • Weak urine flow
  • Any problems related to sexual function if you are a man

Men should also see a urologist regularly for prostate health exams, if they have any problems with infertility, and if they need a vasectomy.

What Can I Expect During My Urology Exam?

As with other doctors visits you’ve had, your urologist will want to get to know you and will ask for your complete medical history, a list of the medications you’re taking, and a rundown of the symptoms or concerns you’re having. If you’ve been keeping any type of bladder or bowel diary, now is the time to share it. Your urologist will also likely ask you for a urine sample, so be sure not to arrive with an empty bladder.

After that, a physical exam will usually follow that will allow the urologist to examine your ailments more closely, and also perform general health checks (such as assessing the prostate in men).

Depending on your condition, other tests may be performed, such as imaging scans, cystoscopy, or urodynamics, PSA test, or testosterone levels, to help better diagnosis your condition.

Once your urologist has a good understanding of the condition, he or she will be able to recommend a treatment plan for you. This may include additional tests to determine severity, behavioral modifications, medications, or even surgery.

If you find that you need to see a urologist, don’t be nervous! They are trained professionals who can help you find the right treatment for your condition. The most important thing to remember when visiting a urologist is to be open and honest when discussing your concerns, even if it feels embarrassing or uncomfortable to you. It’s the only way that your urologist will be able to provide a proper treatment plan for you.

 

Ask The Expert: How Do I Know If My Bladder Leaks Are Serious Enough To Talk To A Doctor About?

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: How do I know if my bladder leaks are serious enough to talk to a doctor about?

Answer: This is a great question, and one that we wish more people would ask. Bladder leaks are a bit like a leaky faucet. Annoying at first, but something that most people ignore for a while. However, given too much time, what started as a small faucet leak can turn into a full-blown problem. The same is true with your bladder. What may start as an annoying occasional problem can get worse over time if left untreated. Many patients wait too long to get treatment, for a variety of reasons – they don’t think their problems is that bad, they are embarrassed to talk about it, they feel like they can manage it on their own. However over time, the condition can worsen and incontinence can truly become a part of daily life, which is something no one wants to deal with.

 

Here are three questions to ask yourself when wondering if you should get treated for bladder leaks:

  1. Is this problem affecting my daily life, even a little?
  2. Does it bother me that I have to make adjustments for my bladder leaks (like always finding the nearest bathroom when you’re out, bringing along a change of clothes just in case, or having the occasional leak.)?
  3. Will I feel upset years from now when I look back on this time, and wish that I had done more to treat this issue?

If you answered YES to any of the above three questions, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Any condition that is keeping you from living your fullest life is one that should be seen to. Don’t wait another minute – with so many treatment options, for bladder leakage there is just no reason to not get help.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Compassionate Care: How To Take Care Of An Aging Loved One

Sarah Jenkins

Caring for an aging loved one.

Caring for a senior--whether it’s a loved one or a client--can be an overwhelming task at times. It’s a stressful job, to say the least, and it can take a toll on your mood, your mental and emotional health, and your physical well-being. If you’re caring for a loved one, there’s added pressure due to your ties, and if you’re caring for a client, it’s important to make sure they’re well taken care of and that their family is satisfied with your work.

"There's a continuum of ways people become caregivers. Often a loved one suffers a stroke, accident or fall or a chronic condition worsens, and people are thrust into a situation. But few plan for it as well as they could," says director of operations for the Family Caregiver Alliance: National Center on Caregiving Leah Eskenazi.

Fortunately, there are some simple things you can do to make sure you give the most compassionate care possible to the senior in your life. Here are some of the best tips on how to do just that.

Consider your options

When a family member needs assistance, it can be difficult to think about all the options available to both of you. Is it financially viable to keep them in their own home? Will they require 24-hour care? Moving a loved one into your home is a huge step and could have repercussions on your relationships with your family members and your own financial status. Lay out all the possibilities and give it some thought before committing to a decision

Lay down some guidelines

Whether you’re caring for a family member or a client, it’s important to have boundaries. Both of you will benefit from setting some rules, such as what you can and can’t do physically, what your schedule will be like, and what you expect from both the senior and their family members. This can help keep your relationship respectful and will ensure you don’t experience burnout.

Ask for help

If you’re caring for a loved one and most or all of the responsibility is falling on your shoulders, it’s time to ask for help. Keep in mind that you are just one person and it’s impossible to do it all alone without experiencing exhaustion and stress; don’t allow guilt to stand in the way of asking for assistance. Let your family members know that you need someone else to step up and help, and make an effort to support one another as much as possible.

Do some research

There are several groups around the country that will assist seniors who are ill or unable to leave their home; church groups, senior centers, and caregiver programs are all great resources to access when you need a break. Some of these will provide rides to doctor appointments, help with grocery shopping or bringing meals in, or even do light housework. When you need to take a breather, let one of these groups come and help you out.

If you’re going to be caring for a loved one in your own home, you’ll need to prepare the environment first. This can be very involved, so do some research or seek the guidance of professionals.

If you’re caring for a parent or other loved one, it may become necessary for you to become power of attorney at some point. Discuss the possibilities with your family and find out what your loved one wants when it comes to hospital stays; seek the counsel of a lawyer to draft a living will. This will be invaluable should the unexpected occur.

Men And Kegels - The Ultimate Guide

Sarah Jenkins

Men's Guide To Kegels

Kegel exercises have long been associated with women – something that they do during pregnancy and post childbirth to tone up their pelvic floors and prevent or ease incontinence symptoms. But Men, if you haven’t tried kegels, you’re truly missing out. Not only can they help ease bladder leakage if you have it, experts claim that they can also give you a stronger erection and orgasm. Want to learn more? Keep reading.

What are Kegels and what muscles do they work?

Kegels are basically the contracting of the muscles in your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is comprised of a tightly woven web of muscels, located in the base of the pelvis between the pubic bone and tailbone. These muscles have three main functions:

  1. They help support the pelvic organs such as the bladder, the intestines and the rectum.
  2. They help control bladder and bowel function and can prevent or ease symptoms of bladder leakage.
  3. They are involved in sexual functionality.

As with any other muscle in the body, if they get weak, they can no longer perform their job. These muscles can naturally stretch and become weaker over time, but with proper exercise they can remain strong to ensure good sexual and bladder health and function.

How do kegels benefit me? 

Kegels can address a number of issues that men may face related to their bladder or bowel.

Urinary incontinence is a condition that affects as many as 15% of men aged 15-64, and may be caused by a number of health conditions. The most common cause of incontinence in men is due to problems with the prostate, but other conditions can affect bladder function as well. Incontinence in men can range from a small amount of leakage after urination, or more substantial leaking when performing physical activity or placing stress on the bladder (laughing, coughing, working out, lifting heavy items).  A Kegel regimen can help to tone these muscles to preventthe leaks from happening.

Fecal Incontinence. As with urinary incontinence, weakening of the pelvic floor muscles can also affect the anus and rectum, resulting in loss of bowel control. But, kegel exercises can help to tone and strengthen this area up as well to prevent bowel leakage.

Overactive Bladder. You’ve probably seen a million pharmaceutical commercials for what’s known as Overactive Bladder – the urgent and frequent need to empty your bladder. When you have an overactive bladder, the muscles of the bladder contract involuntarily, creating an urgent need to urinate. Performing kegels can help improve control of these muscles, improving, or even eliminating the chance bladder leakage.

Urinary Retention. Ever had difficulty starting a stream of urine? How about a weak flow, and the feeling that you need to urinate again right after you’ve finished? It could be urinary retention, which is usually caused by a blockage in the urinary tract, or nerve problems that interfere with signals between the brain and the bladder.  Bladder retraining is one method that can be used to help fix this, but kegels can also help the nerves and muscles used in emptying the bladder to work better.

Erectile Functioning. Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, can be caused by many physical conditions (heart disease, diabetes), or can be the result of surgery (like prostate removal) or trauma. The good news is that you don’t have to resort to medications to treat it – kegel exercises can help strengthen your muscles in your pelvic region and regain normal function. In men, kegels specifically help strengthen the bulbocavernous muscle.  This is the muscle that is responsible for erections, contractions during orgasm and ejaculation, and emptying the urethra after urination. Studies have found that regular practice of kegels can keep this muscle strong, and if you’re experiencing problems, kegels may improve your symptoms.

Ejaculation & Orgasm.  Again, this goes back to the bulbocavernous muscle – the stronger the muscle, the stronger the contractions you’ll have during orgasm. Enough said.

How do I do a kegel?

First, you need to locate the right muscles, which is often the hardest part. The next time you’re urinating, try stopping the flow mid-stream. If you can do that, you’ve found the right muscle. (But don’t do this on a regular basis – this should only be done when trying to locate the correct muscles.)

There are two types of kegel exercises that you can do to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles.

Long Contractions.  Long Contractions work on the supportive strength of the muscles. To perform a long kegel contraction, tighten your pelvic muscles and hold for 5 seconds. This may be difficult at first – don’t worry if you can’t hold the contraction for the full five seconds. With practice you’ll be able to work up to this.

Overtime, work your way up to 10 seconds per contraction. Be sure to rest for 10 seconds in between each contraction – knowing how to relax your muscle is as important as the contraction.

Short Contractions.  Short contractions work the fast twitch muscles that work quickly to stop the flow of urine and prevent leaks. To perform a short contraction, tighten your muscles quickly, then release, and repeat.

When should I perform them?

Like any muscle, you don’t want to do too much too soon. Aim for 5 reps of both short and long contractions, 3x per day on your first day. As you gain more confidence and strength, work your way up to 10 reps, 3x per day of each.

It may take time to see changes, but consistency is key here. Continue practicing kegels and you should see improvements in 3-6 months. And, if you find that you need some help with kegels, talk to your doctor or physical therapist. They will be able to provide you with more personal instruction, which may include biofeedback therapy.

Donate

Men, Here Are 5 Reasons You May Be Experiencing Bladder Leaks.

Sarah Jenkins

men bladder leaks

Women sometimes get all the attention when talking about bladder problems. And while it’s true that bladder leakage affects more women than men, that doesn’t mean men are free from the condition. In fact, studies suggest that as many as 15% of men living at home between the ages of 15 to 64 are affected by incontinence.  Here are some of the top reasons men may experience bladder leakage.

  1. You Have A Prostate Problem.  By far, conditions affecting the prostate account for the majority of problems in men with incontinence. Enlarged prostate (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, or BPH) can constrict or block the urethra, compromising the bladder’s ability to effectively empty. This can cause urgency and frequency since the bladder still signals that it needs emptying. And, for men who have had prostate removal surgery due to prostate cancer, urine leakage is common during the first six weeks after surgery. After that, roughly 20% of men may continue to have a significant problem with leakage, or stress urinary incontinence.
  2. You’re Overweight.  Excess weight can place extra pressure on the bladder, which, combined with loss of muscle control, can lead to leakage. If you’re overweight and experiencing bladder leaks, try losing a few pounds – even a small amount can make a big difference. And your overall health will benefit too.
  3. You Have Diabetes (or another neurological condition). Neurogenic bladder happens when there is a lack of bladder control due to a brain, spinal cord or nerve problem. This can be caused by a number of conditions, such as diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s disease, or spinal cord injury. Treatment options vary depending on your symptoms, but they do exist and should be seen to.
  4. An Obstruction In Your Urinary Tract. Again, this is most often caused by an enlarged prostate in men, but can also be due to a blood clots, tumors, bladder stones, or even scarring of the urethra caused by injury or surgery.  Blockage can cause urine to build up, leading to trouble urinating, leakage, and even distended bladder.
  5. What You’re Consuming. While what you eat or drink may not directly cause bladder leaks, if you’re already to prone to them, certain things you consume can make your symptoms worse. Excessive alcohol, certain medications, and caffeine all act as diuretics and can cause you to need to use the restroom more often. Other foods, like citrus foods, artificial sweeteners, and citrus foods can irritate the bladder, causing an increase need to go to the bathroom. This, combined with an existing bladder problem can lead to more leaks.

Men can sometimes have a difficult time speaking up about bladder issues, even to their doctor. And initial treatment options, such as using adult absorbent products, can seem foreign and uncomfortable.  But living with incontinence is no way to live, especially with so many treatment options available to you. If you struggle with #bladderleakage, learn more about your condition, and talk to your doctor about the options that exist for you so that you can continue to live the life you want.

Need help finding a physician who treats incontinence? Use our Find A Specialist Tool!

NAFC Launches New "Life Without Leaks" Campaign To Raise Awareness of Bladder Leakage/Incontinence

Sarah Jenkins

Life Without Leaks

 

June 5, 2017, Charleston, SC:  The National Association For Continence launches new campaign, “Life Without Leaks”, to raise awareness of bladder leakage and urinary incontinence, and to urge people to seek treatment.

Laura’s bladder-leakage problem started early in life, shortly after she had kids. She would leak a little sometimes when she sneezed, ran, coughed or laughed, but just once in a while, and nothing to make her think it was a big deal. But as the years went by, Laura’s problem got worse. It progressed to the point to where she could not leave the house without packing an extra pair of clothes. She scouted out the nearest bathroom wherever she went. And she stopped doing some of the things that had mattered most to her – traveling with her husband, running, socializing with her friends and family. Slowly, her “little problem” had become it’s own prison – limiting Laura’s life and keeping her from doing the things she wanted.

Laura’s story is not uncommon. Millions of Americans live with some form of Bladder Leakage, yet few seek treatment for it. And while the issue may seem trivial to some, for those who struggle with bladder leakage and incontinence, it can be devastating. Apart from the obvious physical effects, bladder leakage can have a huge impact on emotional well-being. Many people are ashamed of the issue, and take great measures to hide it from friends, and even close family members.  As the condition worsens, people retreat further into their lives, limiting their social interaction for fear of having an accident. And the things they loved to do take a backseat to protecting their pride and hiding their problem from others.  Financial impact of the condition can also be damaging – the cost for supplies, productivity loss, and missed work can add up, causing even more distress.

NAFC’s new campaign, “Life Without Leaks”, is meant to show people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – that they don’t have to live with bladder leakage and can take their life back again simply by getting educated and seeking treatment.  “We wanted to show people the life they may be missing due to bladder leakage – the one they may have even forgotten they once loved,” says Steven Gregg, Executive Director of NAFC.  “Urinary Incontinence is often a slow-building condition, getting worse as time goes by if left untreated. Many people who have it have made so many small adjustments over the years to compensate they may not even recognize what they’ve given up in order to hide their shame. We want to remind them of the life they once loved – to show them life is possible without leaks.”

NAFC launched the campaign’s first video in June, with more videos planned to launch through 2017. The campaign is supported through NAFC’s social channels, email, and their website. www.nafc.org. “We’re trying to raise awareness of this under-treated and little talked about condition,” says Gregg. “There are so many treatment options available for incontinence. We just need to get people to take that first step and seek them out.”

“Life Without Leaks”, has been funded through a sponsorship from Astellas.

Watch the “Life Without Leaks” first campaign video here, and follow along with the campaign on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BHealth.NAFC) or www.nafc.org/life-without-leaks

Your Guide To The New Prostate Screening Guidelines

Sarah Jenkins

Prostate Cancer Screening Guidelines

The new guidelines on prostate cancer screening have left some men wondering what they should do. Here’s a quick breakdown on what the US Preventative Services Task Force recommends.

Prostate cancer is the 3rd leading cause of cancer death in men in the US, with about 1 in seven men being diagnosed in their lifetime.   You may have recently heard the news that, despite previous cautions against getting screened for prostate cancer, new recommendations from the US Preventative Services Task Force are now recommending that men ages 55 to 69 at least have a discussion about prostate-specific antigen (PSA)-based screening, including the risks that go along with it.  So, what’s the deal? Will the test help or hurt you?

It depends. Back in 2012, the USPSTF recommended no routine screening at any age, because of the potential harm that could result after testing, including:

  • False Positives: A fair amount of PSA testing has suggested that prostate cancer may be present when there is in fact no cancer. Elevated PSA levels can be caused by many other things that don’t have anything to do with cancer. This can lead to worry and anxiety, and follow up tests that may not be needed.
  • Risk of infection with additional tests. In order to dig deeper after a PSA test, follow-up tests are done, which can potentially cause complications (fever, infection, bleeding, urinary problems, and pain).
  • Even if prostate cancer is diagnosed correctly, it sometimes never causes a problem for men. However, it’s difficult to tell what cancers will, or won’t be an issue later on, so most of the time, aggressive treatment is performed.
  • Treatment for prostate cancer can lead to other side effects, including erectile dysfunction, or urinary or fecal incontinence.

Due to these potential risks, the USPSTF recommended against screening men, since the benefits of screening really didn’t really outweigh the expected harm that could result. What has changed? 

The US Preventative Services Task Force now recommends that men ages 55 to 69 years of age should talk with their doctor about the potential benefits and harms of PSA screening for prostate cancer, and should make individualized decisions on how to proceed. This decision was made after determining that the potential benefits and harms of PSA tests are closely balanced in men ages 55 to 69. However, men over 70 are still recommended to not receive PSA screening.

Really, what all this boils down to is you. No longer should you just ignore the test if you are within the 55-69 age range. After all – it has been shown that of 1,000 men screened, testing may prevent up to 1 to 2 deaths from prostate cancer and up to 3 cases of metastatic prostate cancer over the course of 13 years. But, you should weigh your options. Have an open dialogue with your doctor about your specific risks – your background and health history, your lifestyle, your healthcare beliefs and wishes – these are all important factors to take into consideration when deciding if and when to get tested. You should also talk with your doctor about what the course of action would be if your PSA levels do turn out to be on the high side. While this could be a sign of cancer, it may also be caused by something else, such as enlarged prostate, which can be treated.

In the end, the Task Force is really just recommending a discussion. Which is something you should be having with your doctor anyway. Talk with your doctor about the risks so that together you can make an educated decision about your options.