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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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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.

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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.

 

Ask The Expert: Are There Other Things Besides Prostate Trouble That Can Cause Incontinence In Men?

Sarah Jenkins

Ask The Expert Prostate

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: Are There Other Things Besides Prostate Trouble That Can Cause Incontinence In Men?

Answer:  Prostate problems in men typically get the blame for incontinence issues for good reason – many men experience issues with their prostate (BPH, prostate cancer) which can often cause incontinence, even if it’s just for a brief time. But there are other conditions that may be contributing to the root of the issue as well. Being overweight can put extra pressure on the bladder, which may cause leaks. Certain foods can also irritate the bladder, causing incontinence – especially if you’re already prone to the condition.  Additionally, neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s or diabetes can lead to neurogenic bladder, where the brain is unable to communicate properly with the bladder. Even still, urinary tract infections or blockages can lead to bladder troubles.

The most important thing to consider is that incontinence is generally a symptom of something else, and can almost always be treated. If you’re experiencing bladder leaks, see your doctor today and ask for help. Your doctor will be able to dig deeper to find the root cause of your incontinence and work with you to find a solution.   

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!

Men: Let's Talk About Bladder Leakage

Sarah Jenkins

You don’t really hear much about incontinence in men. Let’s face it – it’s not something that anyone ever really wants to talk about, but for men, it can be especially hard. Men are supposed to be tough. Caretakers. Leaders. Defenders. Admitting to something like incontinence can feel like a slap in the face. But it’s something that happens to everyone – not just women – and it isn’t something that anyone should have to live with.  Unfortunately though, many do. As many as 15% of men living at home between the ages of 15-64 may have some type of incontinence.  

Men – if you struggle with bladder leakage, we urge you to speak up about it. This doesn’t mean shouting about it from the rooftops. But a frank discussion with your doctor or a loved one is a good start. Here are 4 good reasons to talk to them about your incontinence:

  1. You’ll get some emotional support. Have you ever had something on your mind that weighed on you? Keeping your incontinence a secret can have big effects on your emotional well-being. Many people who live with incontinence become more reclusive as time goes on and the condition worsens. They avoid social activities, or don’t do the things they once enjoyed because they’re scared of having an embarrassing accident in public. But this can mean isolating themselves from others, and hurting some of their close relationships.  Lean in to those close to you and let them know what’s going on. You’ll likely find that their support motivates you to take the next step in talking to your doctor, where you can finally find some treatment.  Still not ready to talk to someone close? Try our message boards. They're filled with lots of people who struggle with bladder leakage and can be a great resource when you need some tips on how to manage, thoughts on treatment options, or even when you just need a place to vent. Trust us, they know what you’re going through, and are a wonderful and caring community where you can share your concerns without judgment.
  2. You can find out what’s actually causing the bladder leaks. In most cases, incontinence is not the real condition – it’s a symptom of something else.  Talking to a professional about it may help you uncover the true source of what’s going on, which could be something that’s easily treated, or something that’s far more serious than some light bladder leakage. Either way, finding out is better than living in the dark, and will help you get the treatment you need to be on your way to recovery.
  3. You’ll learn about all the treatments options available to you. We’ve come a long way from adult diapers being the only treatment option. While absorbent products are still great management tools, there are many things you can do to actually treat the symptoms and avoid leaks all together. Diet and exercise changes, kegels, medications, minimally invasive procedures, and even surgical options all exist. Learning more about your options will help you find something that works for you and your lifestyle, and can feel very empowering.
  4. There’s no good reason not to. With so many treatment options available to you these days, there’s really not a reason to stay silent. Yes, it will probably be an uncomfortable discussion at first, but it’s not one that your doctor hasn’t had before.  They hear from men who have this problem all the time. Talk with them and begin getting treatment so that you can get back to the activities you once enjoyed, instead of worrying about your bladder.

NAFC has some great resources that can help you as you begin getting treatment. Check them out below:

NAFC Bladder Diary

Talking about Incontinence

OAB Resource Center

Bedwetting Guide

It's Never Too Late To Take Charge Of Your Health

Sarah Jenkins

it's never too late to take charge of your health and incontinence

We’re wrapping up Women’s Health Month this week and we wanted to leave you with just one thought. If you take away anything from this past month, it should be this: 

No matter what your age, it’s never too late to seek help for incontinence.

Whether you are a new Mom in your 20’s or 30’s, or have just finished menopause, there are treatments available that can help you. Talk to your doctor and formulate a plan of action. Don’t be embarrassed – you certainly are not the first woman to discuss these symptoms with your doctor and you won’t be the last. They’re there to help you. And if, for some reason, they do brush you off, or attribute your bladder leakage to aging, then we have news for you: it’s time to get a new doctor. Because living with bladder leakage is really no way to live, no matter what age you happen to be.

Take charge of your health and learn how to live a life without leaks!

Need some inspiration from others like you? Head on over to our message boards. You’ll find a supportive and open community to share tips, struggles and personal stories.

Staying Young With A Positive Outlook

Sarah Jenkins

stay young with a positive outlook!

Getting older is inevitable. It will happen to us all at one point, but just because we’re all aging doesn’t mean our life has to decline. The power of positivity is a real thing, and research shows that those who are optimistic about getting older, and who follow the mantra “you’re only as old as you feel” actually do fare better than those who are more likely to attribute aches and pain to old age.

In a study from the Journal of American Medical Association, researchers looked at the effects of positive age stereotypes to see what effect it had on helping people recover from certain disabilities. Participants (aged 70 years or older) were asked to relay 5 words or phrases that came to mind when they thought of old people. None of the participants had a disability prior to the initial questioning, but they did experience at least one month of disability during the 11-year follow up. The people who had given more positive age stereotypes were 44% more likely to fully recover from severe disability and were able to perform daily activities better as they aged than those with negative age stereotypes.

Positive thinking does matter. Even as we age, we are still in control of our own life. How we view it, and our health, make a big difference.  Nothing could be truer when considering a condition like incontinence. At NAFC, we hear from people all the time who think incontinence is simply a part of getting older. They’ve already resigned themselves to the fact that it will happen and there is nothing that can be done. But that is simply not true. (And if you follow this blog we hope you know that by now!) Lifestyle changes, medication, simple medical procedures, and even surgery can often correct the problem (or at least greatly improve the symptoms).  Don’t let your health decline simply because you’re marking another year on the calendar. Take charge of your wellbeing and attack any health concerns head on now, to enjoy a long and happy life.

Here’s a quick exercise to try each day. Close your eyes and think of a time when you were at your optimal health. Think of your vibrancy at that age, your energy, how you felt. Now think of yourself as that age – not just in this exercise, but throughout your day. Associate yourself with that vibrant, younger version in everything you do. And, if research is correct, you may just start noticing the difference!


Have some tips to share on how you “think yourself young”? Share them in the comments below!

Coming Out Of The Closet About Pelvic Organ Prolapse

Sarah Jenkins

This is a guest post from Betty Heath, of The Rejoicing Soul.

During the past twelve years I have shared much of my life’s journey with you. Well, today I am coming out of the closet.  Stunning isn’t it? I was recently diagnosed with Pelvic Organ Prolapse. How many of you can identify with me? The current estimate of the number of women in the U.S. with this condition is approximately 4.3 million. According to a recent study by the World Health Organization guestimates indicate that there are 36 million women world-wide with this condition. The reality is that it is difficult to know what the real numbers are because women are reluctant to be talk about it or be treated for it.

Pelvic Organ Prolapse (POP) is quite common among today’s female population. Many women have the symptoms but because they are embarrassed to discuss them with anyone they suffer in silence.  POP can occur when the pelvic floor muscles weaken and one or more organs shift out into the vaginal canal and even bulge outside of the body.

My journey with POP began sometime in the spring of 2016. I began having symptoms of POP which include pressure, pain and/or fullness in vagina or rectum or both; sensation of ‘your insides falling out’; bulging in the vagina; severe back pain and incontinence. Every time I went for a walk or even sneezed I thought my insides were going to fall right out onto the ground. I began staying home more often and said little about it to my friends. At first I attributed these symptoms to old age and laughed them off. After all, I am approaching the ripe old age of 80. We hear and see so many TV ads regarding incontinence and because the causes are never addressed we become oblivious to what they might be.

This past fall I finally decided I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life worrying about my insides falling out and was tired of dealing with this issue so I made an appointment with a gynecologist. After the initial exam I was referred to Dr. Alexander Shapiro who is a specialist gyn/urologist in Denver. That exam took place in early December and was one hour and thirty minutes.

After the exam I told him I never dreamed I would be sitting in a gyn/urologist office at the age of 79. He smiled and replied, “We do have ways to keep popping up in your lives, don’t we.”  I then told him this was the most disgusting, gross thing that has ever happened to me. He said, “Right now your insides are a total mess. This is a very intimate surgery and is a major surgery. This is who you are right now and you can’t allow this to define your life. I promise you I can repair the damage and relieve the pain and discomfort”.

The four-hour surgery took place on Monday, January 30. I told my physician that most women my age are having face lifts and here I was having a butt-lift. I went home Tuesday and Wednesday as I was having breakfast I suddenly realized that the fullness/pressure feeling and the back pain I had prior to surgery were totally gone. Oh, what a relief it is. I cried tears of joy. I’ve experienced minimal pain with this surgery.

Today, if you are a woman reading this (or a man who has a woman in your life with this condition) I urge you to make an appointment to at least talk with your physician about your problem. There is help and hope for women with POP. New treatment options evolve daily to control, improve and repair this cryptic health condition.

Join with me in taking Pelvic Organ Prolapse out of the closet and make it common knowledge for women of all ages. Don’t allow this condition to define who you are or how you live your life.  Don’t wait! Call for your appointment today.

Betty Heath

About The Author:  Betty Heath lives in Colorado with her husband. She is “retired from work, but not from living”, and has a weekly column called “As I See It”, which appears each Sunday in the Longmont Times-Call, owned by the Denver Post. She enjoys writing, cooking, gardening, and quilting. Betty also volunteers in the St. Vrain Valley School District, helping students learn how to write from their heart. For the past six years, she and her husband have volunteered as Santa and Mrs. Claus for the Holiday Festival in the Carbon Valley. You can read more from Betty at her blog, The Rejoicing Soul.

What To Expect Post Menopause

Sarah Jenkins

What To Expect Post Menopause - common ailments

So, you’ve made it through menopause – now what? While many of the symptoms that came along with menopause will go away, because of some of the changes that happened during menopause, you still need to be on your A-game to remain healthy.

Here are some of the common things to watch out for:

Vaginal Bleeding 

As your estrogen levels drop during menopause, the vaginal lining becomes very thin and, as a result, may be easily irritated, resulting in bleeding. Polyps (usually non-cancerous growths) can also occur. Bleeding after menopause is not normal, so if you experience this, be sure to see your doctor right away to get checked out to ensure it’s nothing serious.

Risk of Osteoporosis

After menopause, a woman’s bone breakdown overtakes bone buildup, resulting in a loss of bone mass. Overtime, this can develop into osteoporosis. Prevention is key here – be sure to exercise on a regular basis (weight bearing exercises done regularly are great at making bones stronger). Eat high calcium foods, such as low-fat milk and dairy products, canned fish, dark leafy greens, and calcium fortified foods. Vitamin D is also essential, as it helps the body better absorb the calcium you’ll be taking in. You can get Vitamin D naturally by exposing your skin to sun for about 20 minutes daily, but you may also get it from foods like eggs, fatty fish, cereal and milk. If you feel you are at a risk for not getting the calcium or vitamin D you need, talk to your doctor about taking supplements.

Risk of Heart Disease

While menopause doesn’t cause heart disease, women are at an increased risk for heart disease after menopause has occurred. Some believe that lack of estrogen may again be to blame, but other changes are in effect too – increased blood pressure, increased LDL cholesterol (this is the “bad” one) and higher levels of fat in the blood can also increase after menopause.  Diet and exercise are as important as ever (to keep your heart healthy and prevent other conditions). Just 30 minutes of physical activity - walking, dancing, and swimming are all great options – 5 days per week can give you a good aerobic workout. And be sure to eat a healthy diet while avoiding too much red meat, or high sugar foods and drinks.

Vaginal Dryness

Because of low estrogen levels, you may still experience some vaginal dryness. Over the counter vaginal lubricants and moisturizers can help ease these symptoms, but if that doesn’t work, talk with your doctor about using some type of estrogen treatment – there are many available, and in different forms (tablets, rings, creams).

Life after menopause can be a wonderful time provided you take the time for self care and work to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

The Pelvic Floor As We Age. A look at how it changes through the different phases of life (pregnancy, menopause, etc.).

Sarah Jenkins

The Pelvic Floor As We Age

A Guest Post By Michelle Herbst, PT

Times have changed. The pelvic floor was once considered a taboo subject. As women age their birthing history and overall muscle weakness may catch up with them.  A healthy pelvic floor can be achieved as we age but often times little attention is paid to our pelvic floor until it starts to fail. It can be difficult for women to seek medical attention due to feelings of embarrassment and despair. But, advances in health care and knowledge of the aging process allows today’s women to seek effective treatments.

Let’s step back and take a closer look at the pelvic floor as we age.

The pelvic floor is a sling supporting our abdominal and pelvic organs. It is made up of our muscles and connective tissues which I like to think of as our active and passive pelvic support structures. The pelvic floor muscles, or active pelvic support structures, create a muscular sling whereas our passive pelvic support structures are made of connective tissue called fascia. Fascia is a spider-web like material traveling through and covering the pelvic floor.

The active and passive pelvic support system are one in the same. They are knitted together interlacing creating a dynamic basin of support. Healthy pelvic support system work together controlling our sphincters, limit the downward descent of the pelvic organs and aide in sexual appreciation. Damage or weakness to the pelvic support system may result in symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunctions resulting in leakage and pelvic organ prolapse.

The pelvic floor over time.     

Pregnancy, child birth and the post-partum period is a time of great change. The interlacing nature of the active and passive pelvic floor support systems protect the mother and baby as they both grown. Child birth calls on the pelvic support system to push and slide the baby out into the world. The pelvic floor muscles can heal in as quickly as 6 weeks after delivery. But, the physical strain of living and creating new life can be taxing on the pelvic support system leaving it overstretched and weak.

The prescription is often kegels and post-partum kegels can be hard to do. The muscles are lengthened, very weak and trying to ‘reconnect’ to their nerve supply. In an attempt to ‘get it all done’, the post-partum mom is often multi-tasking while doing kegels. Their brain is preoccupied, sleep deprived and foggy. Despite good intentions, many new mothers ‘muscle their way through’ relying on other muscle groups to assist or do the job of the pelvic floor. Overtime with due diligence and a sleeping baby – the brain fog lifts, kegels are consistent and pelvic floor muscles recover allowing the new mom to return to and enjoy life’s pleasures and adventures.

Life continues to click at a fast pace.  The biological process of aging ticks away. The passage of time can be bittersweet. In the 3rd through 5th decades of a woman’s life, she will begin to experience a gradual loss in overall muscle strength and tensile strength of their connective tissue. In their 4th and 5th decades, peri-menopause ushers in a decrease in circulating estrogen and progesterone. The conclusion of these gradual changes are marked by menopause which is typically complete during the 5th decade. Life starts to catch up with you. The birthing of children, past injuries, the development of chronic health conditions and your family history may predispose the active and passive support system to overall weakening and loss of integrity resulting in leakage, organ prolapse and decline in sexual function.

What to do?

1.     Protect and strengthen your active pelvic support system by engaging in a strength program and doing your kegels. Peak muscle strength occurs in twenties or thirties. And, unless a woman is engaging in a strength program she will begin lose muscle mass and strength.

2.     Protect the passive pelvic support system by avoiding straining during bowel movements and avoid holding your breath while lifting, pushing and pulling. The passive pelvic support system can not ‘fix itself’ and will need to rely strength of the active pelvic support system. So, revisit number 1 again and again and again …

3.     Stay healthy and seek out your doctor’s advice when you are sick or notice your first sign of leakage or prolapse. The treatment often times isn’t as bad as you think it will be.

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Michelle Herbst, PT

Michelle Herbst, PT

Staying Strong And Preventing Bladder Leakage During Menopause

Sarah Jenkins

preventing #bladderleakage during menopause

It’s estimated that a whopping 6,000 women reach menopause each day in the US. Menopause happens to every woman, and is the shift in hormonal changes that result in the cessation of menstruation.

While many women know about the common symptoms of menopause (Hot flashes! Insomnia!), there are certain changes that come about in menopause that are often surprising to women. One of these is loss of bladder or bowel control. 

A number of things occur during menopause that can contribute to you suddenly experiencing a bit of leakage:

Weakening Of Pelvic Floor Muscles

Your pelvic floor muscles play a huge role in controlling your bladder and bowel. As the muscles weaken, it can lead to more urgent needs to use the restroom, and more leaks. Weakened muscles can also lead to an increased risk for pelvic organ prolapse.

A Less Elastic Bladder 

Changes that occur during menopause can cause the bladder to lose it’s elasticity and the ability to stretch. This can cause increased irritation in the bladder when it fills with urine, and can impact the nerves that regulate bladder function, which can sometimes cause overactive bladder (OAB).

Vaginal Dryness  

During and after menopause, the body produces much less estrogen, which results in an increase of vaginal dryness. This dryness has a number of consequences, which can include an increase in the amount of urinary tract infections.

Anal Trauma 

While anal trauma is usually the result of childbirth, many women may not see the results of it until menopause, when that, combined with a weakened pelvic floor can increase the risk of fecal incontinence.

It’s important to know that while these changes can lead to bladder or bowel leakage, the symptoms can also be avoided or eliminated by taking proper care of the pelvic floor. It’s never too late to start strengthening things up. Here are some ways to increase the strength of your pelvic floor as you go through this period:

Get Active 

As simple as it sounds, simply staying active is great to keep your weight, and overall health in check.  Gentle exercises, like walking, that don’t place too much pressure on the pelvic floor are best.

Try Squats

Squats are a great way to build up your glute and core muscles. To perform one, stand with feet shoulder with apart. Keeping your knees over your feet (don’t let them move past your toes), lower your bottom down as if you are sitting in a chair, being careful not to lean too far forward. Raise back up to starting position.  Aim for 10 reps per day. (Note, if these feel too difficult for you, try wall squats, which use the same movement, but are performed with your back to the wall for extra support.)

Kegel 

When done correctly, kegels can do wonders for helping women with incontinence.  They help strengthen the muscles that prevent bladder leakage and also help to avoid or reduce the symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse.  Remember that when performing a kegal, learning how to relax the pelvic floor is just as important as learning how to tighten it. In some cases, women have pelvic floors that are too tight and cannot relax, and if this is the case, kegels can end up aggravating your condition. If you’re concerned about your pelvic floor, or just can’t get the hang of how to do a kegel, visit a pelvic floor physical therapist for help.

 

Hormones! They Are A Changin'. Top 3 Myths About Menopause - Debunked!

Sarah Jenkins

Menopause will affect every woman at some point in her life. Menopause occurs when hormonal changes cause the menstrual cycle to stop. Whether you are on the verge of this life change or right in the middle of it, there are things you can do to manage the side-effects. But first, it helps to know what is and isn’t true. Here are some common myths about menopause and the reality behind them:

MYTH #1: MENOPAUSE BEGINS AT A CERTAIN AGE.

Fact: While the average age for menopause to start is 52, this is not a steadfast rule.

Women can begin menopause as early as their 30s and as late as their 60s! Technically, menopause begins when you have stopped having a menstrual cycle for 12 months. But symptoms can start even before this begins – perimenopausal symptoms can last anywhere from a few months to several years before actual menopause starts.

MYTH #2: HOT FLASHES ARE THE BIGGEST SYMPTOM I NEED TO WORRY ABOUT.

Fact: While hot flashes are a commonly talked about symptom of perimenopause and menopause, there are many symptoms that can occur (although not all women experience all symptoms). Irritability, fatigue, anxiety, mood swings, low libido, forgetfulness, weight gain and vaginal dryness are just a few of the symptoms that women may experience during this stage of life.

MYTH #3: INCONTINENCE THAT COMES AS WE AGE IS JUST A RESULT OF GETTING OLDER AND THERE’S NOTHING I CAN DO ABOUT IT.

Fact: It’s true that menopause can increase the risk of urinary incontinence. Duringmenopause, estrogen levels decline, causing a number of changes to the body. Without proper care, pelvic floor muscles can become weaker, increasing the possibility of leakage, or even pelvic organ prolapse. Vaginal dryness can occur as the lining of the vagina produces less mucus. And a decline in bladder elasticity can increase bladder irritation and impact bladder function, which can cause overactive bladder (OAB). But while hormonal changes that come with age can influence symptoms, there are many things that can be done to prevent or manage incontinence, starting with taking proper care of your pelvic floor. If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, talk with a licensed physical therapist who specializes in women’s health as soon as possible so that they can evaluate your symptoms and set you up on a proper treatment plan.

 

Prolapse After Pregnancy – It’s Not Your Fault.

Sarah Jenkins

Prolapse After Pregnancy - It's Not Your Fault.

Around 6 weeks postpartum, I had expected to feel a bit more like myself.  I had avoided exploring anything in the vaginal area for fear of what I would find, but had felt a general heaviness since I had given birth.  Not knowing for sure if this was normal, I made an appointment with my doctor to get checked out. 

Upon examination, my doctor confirmed that I had a prolapsed bladder.  His tone was nonchalant, as if it was totally normal and something that just happened sometimes. 

I was completely shocked. What had gone wrong?  And why did I never hear that this was a possibility?  I immediately started blaming myself.  Why had I not done more kegels during my pregnancy?  Why didn’t I do more research to know that something like this could happen?  Did the decision to use a vacuum during the last bit of pushing influence this?  What could I have done to prevent this?

But the truth is, some women really are just more susceptible to prolapse.  While a prolapse can occur for many reasons, some women have more of a genetic risk for the condition due to the strength of the connective tissues.  It’s not your fault. 


That being said, there are some things that may help you either avoid a prolapse, or at least improve your symptoms if you have one:

  • Maintain a normal weight.  If you are overweight, you are more susceptible to a prolapse due to increased pressure inside the abdomen. 
  • Avoid constipation.  Becoming constipated can cause you to strain during bowel movements, increasing the chance of a prolapse.  Ensure you are eating a high fiber diet and drink plenty of water every day.
  • Keep active.  A regular exercise plan keeps your weight in check, and also helps promote healthy bowels.  Be sure to include your pelvic muscles in your daily workout routine too.
  • Avoid extra pressure inside the abdomen.  Things like lifting heavy objects, and chronic coughing, create persistent pressure, which can increase the likelihood of developing a prolapse, or making your symptoms worse if you have one.  Stay healthy and avoid strenuous lifting. 

Whatever you do though, don’t blame yourself for developing a prolapse.  Instead, use that energy to find out what you can do to improve your symptoms and treat the condition.  Talk to your doctor about your options, and find a qualified physical therapist to help you learn how to strengthen your muscles to improve symptoms.

The Mama Body: Physical Therapy During And After Pregnancy

Sarah Jenkins

A Guest Blog by Lizanne Pastore PT, MA, COMT

Eighty percent of the bodily changes occurring during pregnancy happen in the first trimester!  Isn’t that astounding?  A woman’s body must adjust quickly to a 40% increase in fluid volume, increased heart and respiratory rates and myriad other changes that may affect us in different ways.  The fluid volume increase, for example, can make our connective tissues weaker—our tendons can get a little mushy and our nerves and blood vessels a bit softer.  This extra fluid and tissue weakening makes us more prone to things like leg swelling, varicosities, tendonitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, or sciatica.  

The hormonal changes in pregnancy play a big role in our metabolism, mood, memory and, of course, ligamentous laxity.  Some pregnant women experience instability not only in the pelvis and hips, but also in the joints of the spine, elbows, and wrists.  Our musculoskeletal system is taxed by these changes even before the baby gets very big.  Then, as baby grows, we might begin seeing rectus abdominis separation (“diastasis recti,”) spinal problems from posture and center of gravity changes, even rib dysfunction as the ribs are forced out and up to make room for belly.  Foot pain from falling arches from the sudden weight gain can occur, and on and on. 

In the pelvic girdle, there is a list of other maladies that can be downright scary to a pregnant or postpartum mama.  And most women are not warned about these potential problems.   Pelvic girdle pain manifesting as coccyx, pubic or sacroiliac joint pain; groin or hip pain; pelvic muscle or nerve pain; plus urinary or fecal incontinence or pelvic organ prolapse are some of the more common things occurring during or after pregnancy. 

After birth, as Mom is busy caring for her newborn and any other children at home—schlepping heavy car seats, strollers, laundry baskets, breastfeeding through the day and night, lifting ever-heavier babies into and out of cribs—she wonders why everything hurts, or why she feels a clicking in her pelvic bones when she lifts her leg!  Well, she is busy performing exceedingly challenging tasks with a sub-optimal musculo-skeletal-neural system (not to mention sleep deprivation!) 

It is well documented that both pregnancy and vaginal birth increases a woman’s risk of developing pelvic organ prolapse or becoming incontinent later in life.  And many women think that leaking during or after birth is “normal” because their friends, moms, aunts, and sisters leaked, plus there are 20 different brands of incontinence pads to choose from in the drugstore, so it “must” be normal.   

But this is wrong; leaking and pelvic organ prolapse is common, but not normal or OK.   The same holds true for back or pelvic pain.  Sure pregnancy puts demands on our bodies, but there is no reason to “put up” with pain, leaking, prolapse, numb hands or legs!  There is a health professional who knows all about this—a physical therapist specially trained in women’s health issues and the pelvic floor.  These PT’s are special – they understand the pregnant and postpartum body and are experts in negotiating a path to health and strength for women with special concerns.

After an initial assessment, which often includes a thorough pelvic muscle exam and possibly even a biofeedback analysis, the woman is prescribed a home program.  This program may include a combination of postural or corrective exercises, motor training or strengthening exercises, bladder and bowel re-training, special instruction to change movement strategies to limit stressors on the body, and even self-care techniques for pain or prolapse, such as self massage for constipation, or gentle inversions for prolapse. 

Wouldn’t it be amazing if every pregnant woman and new mama could have a visit with a PT like this?  Guess what – they can!  If you are reading this article and are pregnant talk about this option with your doctor.  And if you have friends, sisters, aunts and co-workers who might be pregnant or new moms, talk to them about it.  Tell them to ask their doctors for a referral to woman’s health physical therapist!  

Need help finding a qualified PT? Visit the NAFC Specialist Locator to find one in your area.

About the author:  A physical therapist for 29 years, Lizanne has specialized in treating women and men with complex pelvic floor and pelvic girdle issues since 2005.  She has worked primarily in San Francisco and the Bay Area, running a successful private practice for the past 18 years. She writes, lectures, and teaches about pelvic health at the professional and community levels and is currently a board member of the NAFC.  

Postpartum Isn’t Easier When You’re a PT

Sarah Jenkins

….But it helps

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time of growth, change and anticipation.  As the baby grows, the mother’s body goes through normal musculoskeletal changes.  Muscles in the abdominal and pelvic region stretch, ligaments soften and joints loosen.  Some women handle these changes with ease but others may need the help of a physical therapist to manage pain and incontinence

After the birth of the baby, there are still changes. The postpartum (or post-birth) period can be a beautiful yet challenging time for the mom too. We call this time period the fourth trimester. 

As a PT and mom, I can attest to the challenges I listed above. I can also say that postpartum doesn’t get any easier or feel any better because you’re a PT and you intellectually understand the physiological changes in your body after having a baby. I’m a PT and I know what I need to do for myself and my recovery but knowing what to do and experiencing the discomfort and managing it are different.

Hormones greatly affect the mom emotionally and physically and the pelvic floor muscles are overstretched and weak.  The new mom likely has an incision to care for and may be experiencing some urinary leakage. Ligaments and joints gradually tighten as hormones begin return to pre-pregnancy levels.  However, muscles like the lazy.  If a muscle isn’t exercised it will remain loose and weak.

My prescription for healing after having a baby? Kegels, Tummy Time and Walks.

The secret sauce to making sure that prescription works? Repetition

Understand the purpose of kegeling. 

The pelvic floor muscles create a natural bowl or basket supporting our pelvic and abdominal organs.  The pelvic floor is vital in controlling our bowel and bladder, is part of our core muscles, assists in our sexual response and must stretch to allow for the baby to slide through the birth canal.

A kegel is the contraction of the pelvic floor muscles. You can learn more about how to kegel, here.

Mimic your baby + get on your tummy.

Use that tummy time to kegel from a new position and just take in the moments you have with your new little one.

Try to walk at least once a day.

You need socialization and your baby needs it too.  Lucky for you, walking is a great pelvic floor exercise.

At the end of the day, variety and repetition are key. As both a PT and a mom, I’ve found that strengthening the pelvic floor by challenging those muscles in a variety of ways will allow the muscles to become strong enough to maintain dryness. Eventually, your pelvic floor wall will become strong enough for a return to pre-pregnancy activities.

Although we all have to deal with this postpartum changes, being a PT certainly helped me have perspective. I hope this article can help you too!

P.S.  Remember that whatever you do in the name of healing your body is a way to take care of yourself. If you don’t take care of yourself, how could anyone expect you to take care of your little one? Take a deep breath and give these suggestions a try. If you need an extra boost to get you going, read this blog post for inspiration!

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.

How a 'Birth Plan' Can Help Protect Your Pelvic Floor

Dawn Dingman

The relationship between urinary incontinence (UI), pelvic floor disorders, and vaginal birth is a hot topic. Popular magazines and some scientific journals claim that vaginal birth is a cause of urinary incontinence, which has fueled the debate about another equally hot topic: cesarean delivery by maternal request! The presumed logic is this: if vaginal birth leads to UI, then cesarean delivery should be done to prevent it. In fact, questions surrounding causes and prevention of UI, as it relates to vaginal birth, are far more complex. Scientific studies done to date have shown no conclusive evidence that vaginal birth causes UI or pelvic floor disorders. Until we have more answers, cesarean deliveries done to protect the pelvic floor are unwarranted.

What is a “Birth Plan”?

It is never too early to learn what you can do during childbearing years to protect your pelvic floor and bladder health. A Birth Plan is a paper document you develop that serves as a communication tool between you and your healthcare provider. It describes how you would like to be cared for during your pregnancy, labor, and birth.  A Birth Plan helps you and your provider focus on practices and procedures you believe are important to include or avoid. Everyone wants a healthy mother and baby – that is a given. However, there are many pathways to achieving a safe, normal vaginal birth, a healthy infant and a healthy, satisfied mother and family. A Birth Plan simply places these thoughts in writing. During the course of your prenatal visits, a Birth Plan encourages conversation with your provider about the processes and procedures that occur in the hospital during labor and birth that may affect your bladder and pelvic floor.

Tips For Determining a Birth Plan

During your pregnancy, ask your provider to teach you the correct method for doing Kegel exercises. When done correctly, Kegels help strengthen your pelvic floor during pregnancy and after birth.

The obesity epidemic in the United States has led to changes in recommendations about weight gain in pregnancy. Ask your provider about the optimal weight gain for you. The old adage, “eating for two” no longer applies. Obese mothers who give birth to excessively large infants are more likely to experience postpartum bladder troubles whether having a vaginal or operative birth.

Pregnancy provides the ideal time for women to quit smoking. Cigarette smoking is a risk factor for urinary incontinence. Your healthcare provider has many suggestions to help you quit once and for all.

Once in labor, being upright allows gravity to assist with your baby’s descent instead of working against it while lying on your back.

New evidence shows that “gentle pushing” or delayed, non-directed pushing techniques can minimize pelvic trauma and are more protective than “forced pushing.”

To protect pelvic floor muscles, nerves, and connective tissue, express your desire to avoid the use of episiotomy, forceps and/or vacuum extraction. There is more than a decade of research that an episiotomy need not be performed unless there are indications for such intervention (e.g., fetal distress). Episiotomy, especially midline, has been shown to increase a woman’s risk of anal sphincter injury and not to reduce the risk of other pelvic floor disorders. Patients should discuss whether or not to have an episiotomy and be certain that their doctor will not use one, other than in extreme situations. Sometimes however, these maneuvers may be necessary for you or your baby’s health.

For help in writing a Birth Plan that works for you, consult your library, pregnancy resources, your healthcare  provider, and the Internet. Your healthcare provider can guide you about trusted web sites.

What No One Told You About The 4th Trimester

Sarah Jenkins

what to expect after you've had the baby

When you were pregnant, everyone joined you in counting down the days, weeks, and months until your baby would be born. Now that your little one is here, the countdown is over. But that doesn’t mean the woes of pregnancy are over.

The fourth trimester, or the recovery period and adjustment period of your body after birth, is a very formative time period. This month is filled with changes in your body, your household, and your baby’s body. Now that your little one is out of the safe cocoon of your womb, they’re learning to latch on to you for feedings and lay near you for warmth and comfort. All the while, your organs are resituating themselves and your hormone levels are skyrocketing to fuel these shifts.

Although everyone knows about the exterior changes that come after having a baby, many women are still surprised to feel so out of control with their bowels and bladder.

Childbirth—cesarean or vaginal—does a number on your organs. The trauma of childbirth weakens your pelvic floor muscles, often leaving them feeling like they had their own personal cross fit session.

Understand the level of work your body has done for you and react appropriately. The fourth trimester is a period of rest and recuperation. To treat yourself like anything else will only put you at risk for less than ideal symptoms in the long run.

Take time to map out a recovery plan for your bowels and bladder so you can ease your way back to a pre-baby stage. If you are experiencing urinary or bowel leakage, or a frequent urge to go often, start with a bladder and bowel diary. Fill it out and take note of what your body is responding to and then bring it to your doctor in your next postpartum appointment. 

3 Common Infections That Affect Young Women And How To Treat Them.

Sarah Jenkins

3 Common Infections That Affect Young Women And How To Treat Them: UTI, Yeast Infection, HPV

You’re young, healthy and probably think you’re invincible. However there are some infections that are common in young women. Read below to learn about three you are likely to experience at some point, and what to do about them.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections can occur in men and women of any age. They can be very uncomfortable and most symptoms include a burning feeling when urinating, urinating frequently, feeling tired or shaky, or feeling a pain or pressure in your back or lower stomach. They occur when foreign bacteria enter into the urethra and travel up to the bladder where they can cause an infection.  The most common causes of UTIs are improper wiping after using the toilet (always wipe from front to back to avoid spreading bacteria from the anus to the urethra) and sexual intercourse, which can present larger numbers of bacteria into the bladder. (Tip: Always urinate after having sex – it helps to flush away any bacteria that may be present). UTIs typically clear up quickly with antibiotics, but drinking plenty of water, removing any bladder irritants from your diet (caffeine, alcohol, spicy foods), and emptying your bladder regularly can help treat UTIs too.

Yeast Infections.

Yeast infections are caused by the presence of extra yeast in the vagina. When the normal ratio of yeast to healthy bacteria is off, yeast can grow too much and cause an infection. This imbalance can be caused by fluctuating hormones, certain antibiotics, or other conditions like diabetes. Many women experience itching in the vagina, in addition to painful urination and a thick white discharge. Yeast infections are typically diagnosed by a physician, and can be treated with OTC antifungal cream, suppositories, or antifungal tablets.

HPV.

Younger women tend to have more sexual partners than older women.  Great for your sex life – not so great when trying to prevent STDs.  The human papilloma virus is the most common sexually transmitted disease, and one that you should be regularly checked for. Be sure to ask your doctor to check for HPV at each Pap smear.  It’s a good idea to also get tested for chlamydia and gonorrhea while you’re at it. 

Learn more about women’s conditions here. 

Ask The Expert: Is Urinary Incontinence A Normal Part Of Aging?

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: Is Urinary Incontinence A Normal Part Of Aging?

Answer: We get this question all the time, and suspect that many people believe this, even though it’s not really true. Here are the facts:

While incontinence should never be considered a normal occurrence, our chances of getting it do increase as we get older. Certain life events (childbirth, for example) can cause the muscles and tissues to weaken, and, over time can result in urinary incontinence. Other conditions can also play a role – neurological conditions such as MS or Parkinson’s Disease, being overweight, or prostate problems in men can all contribute to bladder leakage.

So, in a way, yes, as you get older, you may be more likely to experience urinary incontinence, but it’s typically a symptom of something else. And it most certainly can be treated. Lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise (especially performing moves that increase the strength of the pelvic floor) can do wonders in improving symptoms of incontinence. And, if that doesn’t work, medications, minimally invasive procedures (like Botox injections or InterStim) or even surgery are all options for treating the issue.

The most important thing to take away is that having bladder leakage is not a lost cause. If you live with this symptom, find a doctor and talk about your options. Life’s too short to live with a condition that has so many options for treatment.

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!

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