What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

What Is Pelvic Organ Prolapse

When Jenni was 29, she had her first child. A beautiful baby boy, she was ecstatic, and completely in love, despite the long labor she had suffered. But after several weeks, Jenni began to suspect something was wrong. She had expected to feel some discomfort after childbirth, (especially after pushing for several hours), but still, something didn’t feel right.

At her 6-week appointment, her doctor told her everything was looking good, but a few weeks later, Jenni felt a heaviness and in the shower, she felt a small bulge at the opening of her vagina while washing.

“I was horrified,” she said. “I thought something was truly wrong with me.”

Right away, Jenni called her doctor and explained her symptoms.  Her doctor calmly told her she may have a prolapse, a condition where the pelvic floor becomes too weak to hold up the surrounding organs, and caves into itself.

“It’s very common,” he told her, and after an appointment to confirm, he gave her a referral to a women’s health physical therapist.

Jenni’s story is not uncommon. Many women live with pelvic organ prolapse, which is caused by a weakening of the pelvic floor.  Some see symptoms after something like childbirth, but many women may not even realize that they are susceptible until later in life, with the symptoms appear.  

Unfortunately, many women believe this is a normal part of aging, or are too embarrassed to talk to anyone about it, including their doctor. Unlike Jenni, these women suffer in silence and live in discomfort for years, limiting their activities and even their social and personal life because of the symptoms. 

But pelvic organ prolapse is a treatable condition. Read below for answers to some of the most common questions we hear about pelvic organ prolapse. 

What is Pelvic Organ Prolapse anyway?

Before we get into the ins and outs of prolapse, let’s briefly review the pelvic floor and it’s function.  The pelvic floor muscles are a vital part of a woman’s anatomy.  This web of muscles is shaped sort of like a basket and holds up three key organs:  the bladder, rectum, and uterus.  When the tissues and the muscles become too weak, one or more of these organs can fall into the vaginal area, and may even protrude out of the vagina.  This is a pelvic organ prolapse. 

Why does pelvic organ prolapse happen?

Pelvic organ prolapse happens due to a weak pelvic floor. There can be many causes of this, including vaginal childbirth, long-term pressure on your abdomen (from a chronic cough, or straining during a bowel movement), giving birth to a large baby (over 8.5 pounds), aging, or even hormonal changes during menopause.  Sometimes symptoms show up early on, but for many, they may not realize that they have a weak pelvic floor until later in life, when symptoms start progressing. 

What are the symptoms of a pelvic organ prolapse?

The symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse may differ in both type, and severity, depending on how severe the prolapse is.  Many women with pelvic organ prolapse report feeling a general discomfort in the vaginal area.  They may feel a heaviness or pressure, or an achy feeling in the vagina, especially after standing for long periods of time, during sex, or with lots of physical activity.  Some women may also suffer from urinary incontinence. More severe sufferers may see or feel one of their pelvic organs bulging out of the vagina, or have a feeling like they are sitting on a ball 

Is pelvic organ prolapse dangerous?

Pelvic organ prolapse is not a life-threatening condition, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated.  Pelvic organ prolapse can cause a lot of physical discomfort, and can negatively impact a person’s quality of life. There are many ways to treat pelvic organ prolapse so there’s no reason anyone should let it go untreated.

How is pelvic organ prolapse diagnosed?

A physician must diagnose pelvic organ prolapse. Because some symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse may disappear when lying down for a physical exam, your doctor may perform different tests to see if they are able to detect the prolapse. Asking you to cough, or performing a pelvic exam while standing in order to see to see the protruding organ are common techniques for detecting pelvic organ prolapse. Your doctor may use other tests too, such as an ultrasound, an MRI scan of the pelvis, or bladder health tests, if you’re experiencing incontinence.

Is pelvic organ prolapse reversible? 

There are many ways to treat pelvic organ prolapse, and in many cases, symptoms can be greatly improved, but pelvic organ prolapse will never go away on its own.

If you’ve recently had a baby and have been diagnosed with pelvic organ prolapse, there is a good chance that your symptoms may improve with time.  Hormones can play a big part of changing the pelvic floor too, so waiting for them to return to normal after baby is born, and after breastfeeding may provide some relief.  In addition, your body takes some time to recover after carrying a baby for 9 months and then giving birth, so you need to allow it time to recover. There is a good chance that with time, and the proper pelvic floor exercises, your symptoms will greatly improve. 

For women who experience pelvic organ prolapse later in life, there are ways to treat it so that your symptoms are not as severe.  But the muscles will never completely return to normal after experiencing a prolapse.

How to fix pelvic organ prolapse

There are many ways to treat pelvic organ prolapse, and choosing which one may depend on the severity of the problem, as well as what life stage you’re in.

Many people with pelvic organ prolapse can benefit from seeing a women’s health physical therapist.  These professionals are trained in dealing with pelvic floor dysfunction and can not only provide guidance on the right exercises to do, but can also guide you in learning how to do them correctly. Things like kegels are often hard to teach, but by using biofeedback machines and other helpful techniques, a PT can guide you through the exercises and ensure they are being done effectively.  Over time, these exercises can strengthen the pelvic floor, providing greater control over bladder leaks, and lessening the uncomfortable symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse. 

In addition to physical therapy, many women choose to use a pessary, a small device that is inserted into the vagina and helps hold up the pelvic organs.  This device is prescribed by a doctor and is typically fitted for each patient in the doctor’s office.  It may take several tries to find the right fit. 

If you suffer from constipation, your doctor may prescribe a special diet designed to help your bowels move more regularly, as straining on the toilet can exacerbate symptoms of a prolapse and make them worse.

Finally, if your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend surgery to help hold the organs in place.  Talk to your doctor about the pros and cons of surgery, and the risks associated with this type of procedure. 

(Note: It’s recommended that you wait to have surgery until you’re finished having children, as the benefits of the surgery may be undone with childbirth.) 

It can initially be scary to discover that you have pelvic organ prolapse. But so much can be done to treat the condition that you should never put off discussing the problem with your doctor.   

NAFC has many wonderful physical therapists listed in our doctor finder. If you’re experiencing symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, visit it here to find a specialist in your area and make an appointment to discuss treatment today!

 

 

8 Most Common Questions About Fistulas - Answered!

8 Common Questions About Fistulas - Answered!

If you’ve been diagnosed with a fistula, you may have some questions about what it is, why you have it, and what can be done. Keep reading below for answers to some of the most common questions we receive about fistulas.

1. What is a fistula?

The definition of a fistula is an abnormal passageway that connects two organs or vessels that do not usually connect. The most common type of fistula is around the anus. 

2. What causes a fistula?

 Within the anus, there are glands that create fluid. Sometimes these can become blocked and infected, creating what is called an abscess. This is the most common cause of a fistula, although fistulas can sometimes be caused by other conditions as well, such as Crohn’s disease, sexually transmitted diseases, or cancer.

3. What are symptoms of a Fistula?

Fistulas can be very embarrassing, as well as uncomfortable. Pain is a frequent symptom, as well as frequent abscesses, foul-smelling discharge, and painful bowel movements. Skin irritation can also develop due to infections and excess fluid being discharged.

4. How serious is a fistula?

Fistulas can cause a lot of discomfort, and if left untreated, may cause serious complications. Some fistulas can cause a bacteria infection, which may result in sepsis, a dangerous condition that can lead to low blood pressure, organ damage or even death. Luckily there are many treatments available for fistulas so that more serious complications don’t occur.

5. How is a fistula diagnosed?

If you are noticing any symptoms of a fistula – abdominal pain, discharge, a change in your bowel habits, severe diarrhea – talk to your doctor right away.  Diagnosing an external fistula is relatively simple since the doctor is able to see it. He or she may send any discharge that occurs to a lab for analysis, and may also perform blood tests to help confirm the diagnosis. 

If the fistula is internal, diagnosis may be harder. Your doctor may perform an endoscope to see inside, or perform ultrasounds, CTs, or X-rays to find the fistula.

6. Is a fistula a sign of cancer?

An anal fistula is a very rare sign of cancer. However, if left untreated for a long time, a fistula may lead to cancer. A fistula may also develop as a result of radiation therapy.

7. Can a fistula heal on its own?  

In some cases, fistulas may close up, but then reopen. Typically, fistulas do not heal on their own without treatment.

8. How is a fistula treated?

There are different options when treating a fistula, depending on the severity.  For small fistulas, your doctor may perform an in office procedure. A fistulotomy may be done to open and drain the fistula. Your doctor may also be able to use stitches to seal the fistula, allowing it to heal.

Larger fistulas will require surgery to close them properly.  Post surgery, you may be prescribed pain killers, antibiotics to prevent infections, and stool softeners to make bowel movements easier while healing. 

The healing process may take just a few days or weeks if the fistula was small, but larger fistulas can take a longer time to heal, and may even require additional surgeries.  Be sure to keep the area clean, especially after bowel movements. Moist pads may help this process. Taking warm baths can also be soothing and can help the treated area clean.

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a fistula, don’t wait to talk to your doctor. Seek treatment and learn the options available to you – treatment may be easier than you think, and in most every case, is better than letting it go untreated.

 

Why You Should See A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist

October is Physical Therapy Awareness Month! NAFC has long been a proponent for physical therapy as a treatment option for things like urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse. Read on to learn more about how a PT may be able to help you treat these conditions.

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Ask The Expert: Will Losing Weight Fix My Incontinence?

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:  I am overweight and my doctor told me that if I lose some extra pounds it would help with my bladder leakage. Is this true?

Answer: Your doctor is right. Carrying around extra weight puts extra pressure on the bladder, making incontinence more likely, especially if it’s already something you struggle with. One study that looked at weight loss intervention among incontinent women showed that women who lost weight were able to reduce the frequency of their stress urinary incontinence episodes through 12 months, and saw improved patient satisfaction with changes in incontinence through 18 months. (Click here to read the study on weight loss and incontinence.

Losing weight may not stop the leaks completely, but it can definitely help, and is probably a good idea anyway, since obesity carries all sorts of extra health risks (on top of incontinence).

If you’re overweight, small changes can make a big difference. Below are a few things you can do to get the process started.

Watch your diet and try to work in more fruits and vegetables while cutting out sugary foods. 

It may help to keep a food journal so that you see exactly what’s going into your body. Many of us eat mindlessly and sometimes as a result of our emotions. Learn to recognize your emotions when you reach for that extra cookie or bag of chips. Are you bored, sad, angry? Try dealing with it in different way – call a friend, take a walk around the block, watch a movie. You may find that the reasons you eat don’t always have to do with hunger.

See a nutritionist.

There are so many fad diets these days that it’s hard to know what you should and shouldn’t eat. A nutritionist can teach you about food and the different foods that are good for you body. They can also help devise a meal plan for you to make it easier for you to stay on track.

Start adding more exercise into your daily routine.

Not sure where to begin? Walking is a great exercise that requires no equipment. Biking is another great option that gets you outside. Most gyms have lots of great classes you can try that will help guide you through different workout routines, and some even offer personal trainers, providing you with a more custom and individual approach. If you’re just not ready to venture outside of the house yet, try a workout video, or subscribe to online video classes.

Make it a social affair and invite a friend to join you.

You’ll pass the time more quickly and also have an ally who can help motivate you to keep going.

 

Sneak in extra movements throughout your day.

Park your car a little bit further from the entry of your office/grocery store, etc. Do short bouts of weight bearing exercises like lunges, squats or pushups when you’re waiting for dinner to warm up. Take a 5-minute break every hour at work to just walk around the office. Every movement counts – your body doesn’t know if you’re in the gym or not and it doesn’t always have to be during a designated workout time. You’ll still be burning extra calories.

 

Track it.

We’re all motivated by progress so tracking your stats somewhere where you can see your improvements can help. Get a pedometer to track the steps you take and try to set a goal of reaching a certain number each day. Weigh yourself every week and mark down your progress in a journal. Stay motivated by celebrating your victories! 

Weight loss can be hard, but with some motivation and perseverance, you can do it. Keep at it and not only will your incontinence symptoms be improved, but you’ll find yourself much healthier too.

The NAFC Expert Panel is made up of some of the top medical professionals in the fields of urology, urogynecology, physical therapy, and surgery. Each month, the experts weigh in on important topics and answers to your questions.  To have one of your questions featured in our Ask an Expert series, send it to us here.

Secrets For Aging Gracefully

Secrets For Aging Gracefully

It happens to all of us – one minute we’re prancing around in our 20s and the next we look in the mirror and wonder where the time went. Aging is a fact of life, and one that no one can avoid.

But there are ways to ensure that you sail into your golden years. 

Read on for our best tips on aging gracefully.

Think Young.

It may sound impossible, but research has actually shown that you can think yourself young. A number of studies have shown that we have the power to perceive time differently, and that the more we engage in “can do” thinking as we age, the better off we’ll be. Don’t fall into the mindset of thinking you can’t do something just because you’re a little older. Science shows that if you think you can’t do something, limit your life or the things you try just because of your numerical age, you might actually age faster. But the same is true of the opposite. Think yourself young and you’ll be much better off.  (This is a great article on aging and studies that have been done on perceived time and mindset.)

 

Keep Moving.

Staying young means staying active. Exercise has many benefits and is an important part of keeping your muscles toned, staving off chronic conditions, and keeping your mental state strong. And, regular exercise can actually make you look younger. It’s never too late to start. And you don’t have to suddenly become a body builder or a marathoner to see results. Find a workout you love and stick with it. Walking, swimming, yoga or biking are all great options. Just do something. As is often said, move it or lose it.

 

Eat Well.

Watching what you eat is always important. Healthy eating not only gives helps you maintain a healthy weight, it gives you good energy and helps fight off certain diseases. Many foods can even make you look better! Check out this roundup of some of the best foods you can eat to look younger.

 

Reduce Stress

It’s probably no secret that being stressed out can wreak havoc on your health on both the inside and the outside. Too much stress can lead to things like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity and even diabetes. Stress can also affect your mood, create lack of motivation, cause sleeping problems, and fatigue. Stress may even lead to a higher risk of premature death.

Learn ways to alleviate stress to avoid these health pitfalls.  Meditation and yoga can help calm the mind, and regular exercise can be a great stress reliever. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep to conquer your days, and if you’re really down, give a friend a call to talk through it. It’s amazing what a short conversation with someone you care about can do.

 

Take up a new hobby.

Studies have shown that learning something new can help improve our memory and overall brain health. Not only that, it adds a bit of excitement and spark to life that can keep us fulfilled and happy during our golden years.

Learning something new gives us new perspective on life and opens us up to new experiences.

Need some ideas? Learning a new language, drawing, knitting, learning to play a new instrument, or even just trying out a new recipe are all great places to start.

 

Take proper care of your health.

One of the best ways to stay young is prevention. Take basic care of yourself by making sure to see your doctor and dentist regularly. Stay up to date on your health tests as you age. Get good sleep. Wear sunscreen. These are the little things you do every day that may not seem like much, but can make a big difference in the long term. 


Have any of your own tips on how to stay young? Share them with us in the comments below!

 

 

 

 

Patient Perspective: It Doesn't Matter How Old You Are - Incontinence Is Not Normal!

Patient Perspective: Incontinence Is Not Normal

At 70 years old, you’d think that I’d have come to terms with having incontinence. But time has a way of making you see that some things you thought were normal actually weren’t at all.

The leaks started in my 50’s and at the time, I chalked it up to just growing older. I started wearing absorbent pads for protection and just went on living my life. My leaks started to get worse as I got older, and in my late 60’s I finally talked to my doctor about it. He asked me during a routine check up about my bladder habits and I told him I’d been having leaks for years. I tried to brush it off like it was no big deal (it was a bit embarrassing to talk about), but he kept pressing me, asking me more details and taking notes.

Finally, he told me that he wished I had told him about the leaks sooner, since there is so much that can be done to treat bladder leaks.  He said no one should have to live with bladder control issues and that it absolutely is NOT a normal part of aging.

I felt so foolish for having believed all those years that it was just my body breaking down, getting older. Turns out that I was able to start a medication that really helped eliminate (mostly) my accidents. And there are even more treatments besides medications that I can try if I decide to.

Now that I’ve treated my incontinence, I feel freer at 70 years old than I did when I was in my late 50’s. I only wish I had opened up about it sooner to my doctor. 

Don’t wait to talk about it. Don’t let the years pass you by living with incontinence. It’s just not worth it when so much can be done.

Abby M.,

Boston, MA

Tips For Avoiding A Sedentary Lifestyle

Tips For Avoiding A Sedentary Lifestyle

Today’s modern world moves faster than ever. And while technology has us moving at a breakneck speed in most areas of life, being active is unfortunately not one of them.

A recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS) showed that only 23% of adults between 18 and 64 are getting the recommended amount of exercise. That’s bad news since lack of exercise can lead to lots of problems, including the development of chronic diseases, like diabetes, and cognitive delcline. In addition, a more sedentary lifestyle may lead to obesity, a condition that can contribute to incontinence (among many other things). 

What’s the recommended amount of movement you should be aiming for? Experts say that most people should try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate activity, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise each week. It’s also recommended to add in muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week.

The good news is it’s never too late to start. And adding in those workouts may be easier than you think. 


Here are our 7 best ways to sneak more movement into your day:


1. Break up your workouts into chunks.

For starters, don’t feel like you have to do all your working out at once. Even breaking up your workouts into small 10-minute chunks throughout the day counts.  Have a few minutes before your next conference call? Take a walk around the block, or try going up and down the stairs a few times. Running errands? Park your car in the furthest spot from the door to force yourself to walk even just a few more steps. Waiting for the microwave to heat up your dinner? Do 30-60 second bursts of squats or pushups. These activities may not seem like much on their own, but when you add them all up they can really make a difference.

 

2. Start a walking group.

Walking is one of the best low-impact workouts you can do. It’s easy, since you can do it pretty much anywhere, and you don’t really need any equipment – just grab your sneakers and get started. What’s more, walking with a buddy keeps you more engaged throughout the exercise and will make your “workout” as easy as catching up with a friend. (Plus, you’ll get the emotional boost of some good social interaction!). Click here for tips on how to set up a walking group.

 

3. Find an active hobby you love.

Going to the gym not your thing? You don’t have to commit to a grueling workout that you hate. Try something different! Take up a tennis class, try your hand at golfing, or invest in a new bike. There are no hard rules for how you get your workout in, just find a way to move. Bonus:  if you love doing it, you’ll be more inclined to continue.

 

4. Try an alternative workout.

Maybe you’re bored with your normal gym. Or you’re starting to feel unchallenged or unmotivated by what you’ve been doing. There are tons of new gyms out there that focus on new types of workout. Orange Theory, CorePower Yoga, Barre Workouts, Crossfit, Boxing Gyms, or even Dance Centers (tap dancing anyone?) are all different types of workouts that you might consider trying.  Do a google search for what exists in your area and give one of them a call. Many of these gyms offer a free trial period so that you’re able to check it out a few times before committing.


5. Think outside the box.

Try thinking of alternatives to your normal routine in order to work in more exercise. Do you have a standing meeting with a colleague at work? Try turning it into a walking meeting and talk while you walk. Do you live close enough to walk or bike to the grocery store? Make it a habit to schedule that into your weekly routine. Feel like you just really cant squeeze anything in? Try waking up 10 minute early in the morning to fit in a few rounds of weight-bearing exercises or to take a quick walk around the block.


6. Work up to it.

It may feel daunting to jump straight into a workout routine if you’re not used to it. But you don’t have to do it all at once. Start slowly with just a few minutes per day, then work up to more time as you’re able to.  Giving your body (and, let’s face it, your mind) time to catch on may make a regular workout routine easier to stick to.

 

7. Make it a family (or friend) affair.

Working out with a group can be motivating since you’re held more accountable than if you’re just on your own. Try getting your family involved by scheduling in regular family activities.  Start taking a nightly walk after dinner with the kids. Go for hikes on the weekends. Bike to the park and get in a good jungle gym workout. Get a group of friends together to try a new workout class or gym. The best part? By getting your loved ones involved, you’ll be helping each other live a healthier life. And if you have kids, you’ll be instilling in them the importance of exercise and staying fit – something that will hopefully stay with them their whole life.

Finding a workout you can commit to will do more than help you lose weight. Staying active may help prevent chronic conditions, will give you more energy, increase your muscle tone, and help your stability, which can be especially important as you age. And, you’ll be helping your mind stay sharp while also staving off mental conditions like depression.  We’d call those pretty good reasons to make working out a priority.

So get moving! Start small (anything is better than nothing!) and use some of the tips listed above to sneak in extra movement to your day.

(Note: It’s important to talk to your doctor before starting any new exercise routine. Need help finding a specialist? Click here to use our specialist locator tool!)

 

Traveling With Incontinence

traveling with incontinence

Traveling can be challenging for people of all ages. Finding where you need to go, packing, arriving on time, following directions, and navigating any issues along the way can be stressful and difficult. Traveling with incontinence adds an extra layer of complexity. From packing appropriately, products and extra clothes, to additional stops and locating bathrooms, traveling with incontinence takes added planning, coordination, and consideration of each part of the trip. However, with some useful tips and the right products, adults can continue to explore the world and visit people they loved while managing incontinence!

Traveling takes you out of your typical routine and your comfort zone. For adults with incontinence, finding a routine that balances managing their incontinence condition and living an ordinary life is so important.  When you are traveling and have a new ordinary, you should develop a plan to take control of your experience.

Therefore, we have compiled 6 tips for traveling with incontinence to help you find the travel routine that works for your condition and lifestyle.

6 Tips for Traveling with Incontinence

Move up in Absorbency

When taking a trip in the car or on a plane, you typically are wearing the same product for a longer time period than in your normal, at home routine. A tip for longer trips is to move up in absorbency or find a product with more absorbency. It is common for people with incontinence to have a product for daytime wear and a different product for overnight use, so it’s normal to have a product for regular wear and a product for traveling. In fact, your typical overnight product may be your travel product. Regardless, it is helpful to find a product that provides more protection than your normal, everyday product. You can even consider adding a booster pad to your regular product for a few more hours of protection. Plus, with a booster pad you can quickly change the booster pad without having to change the host garment (diaper or brief), a great tip for quick on the go changes. Using a product with extra absorbency ensures that if you do have an accident or can’t locate a bathroom, you’ll be protected.

Time your Bathroom Trips

When traveling, it is always a good idea to locate bathrooms and plan a set amount of time between trips to the bathroom. This may depend on your condition and fluid intake, but generally planning to go to the bathroom every 2-3 hours is recommended. Timing your voids will help reduce the likelihood of soiling your incontinence product while allowing you to continue drinking an adequate amount of water. On that note, monitor your fluid intake and be sure to continue to drink water. On a long car trip, it may sound tough to stop every 2 hours to go to the bathroom, but you’d rather stop every few hours for 10 minutes than have an accident and spend more time trying to clean everything up!

Absorbent products

Supplies, Supplies, Supplies

Supplies refers to absorbent products, extra clothes, and any other supplies you use (wipes. gloves, creams, etc.). Be sure to bring more than enough supplies so that you feel confident in all possible situations. Bring an extra bag of just additional supplies if you must, it will make you feel more protected just knowing you have it.

Additionally, consider sending additional absorbent products or other supplies to your destination ahead of time. If you’ll be gone for a few weeks or months, it may be easier to ship yourself supplies or place an order online and have the product delivered to your travel location. This will help cut down on the bags you have to carry and transport.

Give Yourself Extra Time

Often during trips and travel people are in a rush and are running late. So, it is helpful to give yourself plenty of time to arrive early to the airport or to the hotel or wherever your travel takes you. This will give you time to locate bathrooms, use the bathroom, find your gate or destination, and extra time for anything else that comes along. How much extra time you need is up to you and your routine but erring on the side of too much extra time is advisable.

Locate Nearby Bathrooms

It’s also important to locate the nearest bathrooms or rest stops along your trip so when you need to go you can quickly stop. If you start to feel the urge to use the bathroom, don’t try to hold it longer than necessary. Get off at the next exit or find the next bathroom in the airport and go. Trying to hold it makes you more likely to have an accident. You can also use our list of apps to help you locate a bathroom!

airplane aisle

Aisle Seats Near the Bathroom or Extra Stops

If you are traveling on a plane, it is helpful to reserve an aisle seat close to the bathroom in case you need to go during the flight. This will make it easier for you to get up without bothering any one and be close to the bathroom in case you get a sudden urge.

If you are taking a car trip, practicing timed voids and stopping every 2-3 hours helps reduce the chance of accidents. It’s much easier to stop for 15-30 minutes to use the bathroom and stretch your legs every few hours than it is to drive for 5 hours but have to change your product, clothes, and potentially clean up a mess in the car. If you’re wearing a maximum absorbency product and feel comfortable riding for 4-5 hours without stopping, you can certainly do that! But to ensure a smooth trip without a mess or changes, regular stops are a good solution.

Never Stop Exploring

Traveling with incontinence can add complexity at any age and any level of incontinence. Long trips take extra planning, considerations, time, and often money. But with the right planning and organization, and using the tips above, you can continue to travel and enjoy time in the places you love. Hopefully you can use these tips and learn your own tricks and tips that work for you as you embark on your travel adventures! Never stop exploring!

Contributed by Tranquility® Incontinence Products – Premium Protection for When Performance Matters Most

Patient Perspective: Having IBS Causes Me So Much Anxiety

IBS Gives Me So Much Anxiety

I am 62 years old and have been dealing with symptoms of IBS for close to 15 years.  I’ve had countless accidents in public – at events, friends houses, you name it.  The early days of having the condition were mortifying to me - I got pretty good at coming up with all sorts of excuses for why I need to leave a party or event early. But the isolation I think may be the worst. I just always felt like there was no one I could talk to about it and no one who would understand.

Luckily, my family has been supportive.  They don’t say much about it and just try to help with what they can. I know now to bring back up clothes and cleanup supplies everywhere I go.  I’ve also worked a lot with my doctor to develop an evolving treatment plan and ways to manage my IBS.

This condition has been so embarrassing for me and has caused me a great deal of stress throughout my life.  I’m constantly worried about having an accident, but that just makes me even more anxious and in turn triggers more accidents. It’s a vicious cycle that is so hard to break. 

The biggest things that have helped me are exercise, watching my diet, and taking up meditation. I find that exercising daily is a great stress reliever and also helps to get things moving, if you know what I mean.  It’s been a long road of trial and error to determine a diet that works for me, but cutting out beans, gluten, and sugary foods has seemed to really help.  Keeping a diary of what you eat and drink each day, and how it affects your bowels, can be a huge help in determining triggers and patterns. (Download our free diaries here!)

Finally, meditation has been a complete game changer. I’ve taken some classes, done a lot of self study, and have even found apps that have helped guide me through the process. Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed or anxious, even just a quick 5-minute meditation can be enough to calm my nerves, and seemingly, my bowels. I encourage everyone to give it a try – what do you have to lose?   

I think the most important thing is for people to keep some perspective on life and know that while this condition is a constant struggle, it doesn’t have to be limiting unless you allow it to be. Talk with your doctor, a nutritionist, a therapist – or all three if it helps! Find ways to manage it and cope with the stress. It really makes all the difference.  

Sherri K.,

Baton Rouge, LA

 

 

What Are The First Signs Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

What Are The First Signs Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)?

Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is a gastrointestinal disorder that can cause painful stomach cramps and changes in the frequency, or type of bowel movements. IBS can be hard to diagnose since it can be triggered by a variety of things. And everyone’s trigger is different, and symptoms are not always consistent among patients. Finally, the symptoms of IBS also mimic that of other conditions, making it difficult to know for sure if you have it without talking to a doctor.  Below are some of the more common symptoms of IBS.

 

Signs And Symptoms Of Irritable Bowel Syndrome

 Abdominal pain or cramps.

This is one of the most common sigs of IBS, and usually occurs in the lower abdomen.  The pain typically goes away after a bowel movement. For many people, a change in diet can help with the pain. Medications also exist that can treat pain associated with IBS. 

Gas and bloating.

This is another common symptom of IBS. With IBS, extra gas is produced in the gut, and can cause bloating (which may also lead to pain mentioned above).  Again, certain changes in your diet may help reduce gas and bloating.

Diarrhea, constipation, or both. 

Some people with IBS may experience loose stools, or a sudden, immediate urge to have a bowel movement.  Others may experience constipation, which when accompanied by pain that improves following a bowel movement is a common sign of IBS. Still others may have alternating bouts of both diarrhea and constipation.

 Fatigue.

Feeling tired or a lack of energy is a common complaint in people with irritable bowel syndrome. This may be because certain vitamins that are essential to our well-being are not as readily absorbed when you have IBS. Additionally, disruptions in sleep due to increased symptoms of IBS may lead to a worsened quality of sleep, and increased tiredness throughout the day.

Food intolerance.

Different foods may trigger IBS in different people, but some common ones may include lactose and gluten, or FODMAPs, which are certain carbohydrates that are poorly absorbed in the small intestine.  These include certain vegetables and fruits, beans, wheat and rye, some nuts, and sweeteners or artificial sweeteners.  Learn more about FODMAP diets here.

Pay attention to your diet to see what foods may be triggering your symptoms. A bowel diary can help you track this. (Download our free bowel diary here!)

Stress.

The symptoms of IBS may cause great distress and leave patients feeling overly stressed and anxious. Ironically, reactions of stress can actually lead to added IBS symptoms. Finding ways to reduce stress (like meditating or exercising regularly) may lead to less severe symptoms of IBS.

 

IBS can be a very painful and uncomfortable condition, but the good news is that it’s treatable. Not everyone with IBS will have all of these symptoms, but if you’re experiencing any of the conditions listed above, talk to your doctor. Together you can figure out a treatment plan that works for you.

 

An Easy Way To Eat More Vegetables

An Easy Way To Eat More Vegetables

Fruits and vegetables are an important part of a balanced diet. But most people don’t get the recommended amount. The US dietary guidelines say you should have 4-5 servings of vegetables and 3-4 servings of fruit each day.  

Still, another study has shown that eating up to 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day (that’s about 28 ounces) may be effective at preventing the risk of premature death, and staving off things like heart disease, stroke, cardiovascular disease, and cancer. 

And, eating more fruits and veggies has a host of other benefits, ranging from maintaining a healthy weight, getting better sleep, having a strong immune system, and even maintaining a healthy gut.

It may feel hard to get in your daily dose of fruits and vegetables, but even 3-4 servings are better than nothing so do your best. 

Here’s an easy recipe for sneaking more fruits and veggies into your morning routine:

Green Smoothie (serves 2)

(Based off this recipe from Simple Green Smoothies)

  • 2 cups spinach or kale (remove stems if using kale)

  • 2 cups coconut water

  • 1 cup mango

  • 1 cup pineapple

  • 1 – 2 bananas

 

  • Blend your spinach and coconut water together until spinach is fully chopped.

  • Add fruit and blend to combine with the spinach until smooth.

  • Enjoy!

 

A few tips:

  • This recipe is totally customizable, so feel free to switch out the main ingredients as needed. Change up the greens, swap the fruit, sub regular water, milk or almond milk for the coconut water– your options are really endless.

  • Using frozen fruit really helps to make the smoothie nice and icy.

  • You can make your smoothie ahead of time and it should keep for a couple of days in the fridge, or you can chop up your veggies and place then into single serving baggies to quickly dump in the blender when you’re ready making this super quick and easy. 

The Best Incontinence Products For Working Out

The Best Incontinence Products For Working Out

Do you let bladder leaks keep you from working out? It’s estimated that over 20% of women have quit physical activity due to urinary incontinence. This is unfortunate though. Regular exercise should be a part of maintaining good health, and keeping a healthy weight can actually lessen the occurrence of leaks. Plus, working out can also strengthen the core muscles and the pelvic floor, which can provide more control over the bladder.  

So what can you do to protect yourself if you find yourself leaking at the gym? Fortunately there are lots of products on the market that can help you avoid an embarrassing situation.

What to look for in an exercise pad or protection.

Choose a product for incontinence, not menstruation.

It may seem like it would do the job, but pads made for menstruation are much different than absorbent pads made for incontinence. Incontinence pads have a greater level of absorbency, and are typically created with materials that will wick moisture away from your body.  Make sure to use a pad specifically designed for incontinence. (Hint – you can discreetly order these online and no one has to know!)

Make sure the product is breathable.

The last think you want is irritated skin because the product was too tight or kept moisture too close during a tough workout. Read the packaging and product descriptions to make sure you’re choosing one that is breathable.

 

Avoid bulk.

If you’re moving around a lot, you don’t want something that is going to feel bulky getting in the way of your workout. Nor do you want something that will cause chafing. Many of the incontinence products made for working out are very discreet. Try to find one that doesn’t add a lot of bulk to your workout wear.

 

Choose a product that will stay put.

When you workout, you want something that will stay put and not slide around. Look for a product that sticks well to your undergarments.

 

Try a pessary for support.

Leaks during workouts may be fixed simply by providing a little bit of extra support to your bladder. Pessaries are small inserts that are fitted by a doctor and help hold the bladder up a bit, providing additional support.  This may be helpful if you’re doing a lot of higher intensity moves.

 

Other tips to keep you dry:

Reduce fluids prior to working out.

Don’t cut out drinks all together. Your body needs to stay hydrated when exercising. But be mindful of what and how much you’re drinking prior to your workout. Downing 2 or 3 cups of coffee before your morning workout routine may not be the wisest choice. 

Wear dark, lose-fitting clothing.

If you do end up having an accident, darker colors will hide it better than lighter ones.  And, loose fitting shorts and workout pants can help hide absorbent products you may be wearing, and make leaks less noticeable.

 

Try different types of workouts.

If you truly love an activity, you shouldn’t have to give it up. But there’s also no rule that says you have to do a certain type of workout to get in shape. If running is causing you more stress than enjoyment, try something with less impact. High intensity exercises place a lot of pressure on our bladder, and things like running, tennis, or similar exercises that cause repeated downward pressure can weaken the pelvic floor over time. Walking, swimming or biking may be good options to sub in, at least some of the time. (Read our tips on how to start a walking group!)

Got any tips for staying dry while you exercise? Share them with us in the comments below!

Patient Perspective: How I Allowed Incontinence Steal Parts Of My Life.

How I Allowed Incontinence To Steal Parts Of My Life.

I’m 65 years old, and for years I let my incontinence control me.

I always had a bit of an overactive bladder – I’d race to the bathroom as soon as I got home, no matter where I had been or how long I’d been out. Washing dishes after dinner had me almost hopping to the toilet, for fear I’d have a leak.

It was sort of funny at first – well, as funny as we could make it. My kids would make fun of me and we’d laugh about how silly I looked. But after a while, my body just wasn’t strong enough to hold it in and I started not making it to the bathroom in time. I brushed it off for a while – I’d had five kids after all! Wasn’t this something I should expect?

But after a while, it really started to get me down. The small leaks started turning into gushes and I wasn’t able to hide my accidents. I relied on absorbent products but so many of the ones I tried leaked that I became terrified of venturing out of the house.  

I became a hermit – making my kids come to see me at home instead of meeting them out or going to their house.  I missed events – graduations, family outings, get-togethers with friends – things I used to love to do. I was a slave to my incontinence. And I felt helpless.

I finally found help through my daughter. She saw my pain and the big changes in me over the years and finally put her foot down, demanding to take me to talk to my doctor.  It was a terrifying discussion for me – what would she say? Would it make me feel even more embarrassed?

But my doctor was very kind, and started me on a medication for OAB right away, which helped a lot. 

She also referred me to a physical therapist to help strengthen my pelvic floor.  I thought it would be extremely uncomfortable, but it’s left me feeling so much stronger and empowered, I kick myself that I didn’t start it sooner.  

I’ve regained so much control over my condition and my life now. I wish I had sought help sooner.

I’m likely an extreme case – I don’t think most people – even those with incontinence – live like I did.  But here is my challenge to anyone living with incontinence – why let it dictate your life even a little? If you’re struggling with little leaks here and there, don’t put off treatment or brush it off like it’s nothing. Packing an extra change of clothes, scouting out bathrooms, making excuses – these are changes to your life that may start off small, but can snowball into something larger if you don’t seek help and take care of it now.

Find a doctor you trust, and get treatment for your leaks. Don’t let incontinence hold you back from living your life. It’s just not worth it.

Sandra F., Minneapolis, MN

Ask The Expert: What Causes Bedwetting In Adults? (And How Can I Make It Stop?)

What Causes Bedwetting In Adults?

Question:

I’m a 40 year old man and have struggled with bedwetting on and off for several years.  It’s very embarrassing and I feel ashamed and alone. What causes bedwetting in adults, and how do I make it stop?

Expert Answer: 

Believe it or not, this is a common question we hear from adults. Bedwetting isn’t just limited to kids, and may be caused by a number of things, such as certain medications you’re taking, other medical conditions, or issues with your bladder. The good news is there are many ways to manage it.

Causes of Adult Bedwetting

There are many things that may be contributing to adult bedwetting.

Medications.

Certain medications can cause you to experience adult bedwetting. Hypnotics, some insomnia medications and certain drugs designed to treat mental or mood disorders may have the side effect of bedwetting. Talk to your doctor about what you’re taking to see if it may be contributing to nighttime wetting.

Genetics.

Believe it or not, you may be able to blame your family for your bedwetting woes.  Studies have found that when one parent has had a history of wetting the bed as a child, their son or daughter had a 40% chance of having it as well.  This likely carries into adulthood too.

Hormones

Some hormone imbalances can cause bedwetting. ADH is an anti-duretic hormone that typically signals the kidneys to produce less urine. If your levels of ADH are off, or your kidneys are not responding to the ADH signals, you may produce too much urine during your sleep, which could result in wetting the bed. 

Other Medical Conditions.

There are many other medical conditions that can contribute to adult bedwetting, such as UTIs, problems with the prostate, sleep apnea, or even diabetes. It’s very important to speak with your doctor about adult bedwetting in order to rule out any of these causes.

Stress and anxiety.

Ongoing stress or anxiety about a situation you are going through may trigger adult bedwetting, which may last long after your stressful problem is over.

Nocturia.

Nocturia is defined as needing to go to the bathroom more than once per night.  This is typically caused by the kidneys producing too much urine, and can lead to bedwetting if you’re unable to wake up at night to use the bathroom.

Overactive Bladder.

With overactive bladder, the bladder muscles become spastic causing the sudden need to go to the bathroom, and often. 70-80% of adult bedwetting patients have been found to have overactive bladder. 

Small Bladder.

Some people are simply not able to hold the amount of urine that they produce at night. This often results in bedwetting. 

How To Stop Adult Bedwetting

There are many ways to treat adult bedwetting. You’ll want to make an appointment with your doctor to determine the cause of your bedwetting, and to find a treatment that will work best with your lifestyle. 

 Protection.

It pretty much goes without saying that if you’re experiencing bedwetting you’ll want to get some protection. But did you know that not all adult absorbents are equal? You can look for products that are extra absorbent or specify nighttime use. Fit is also a very important part of preventing leaks so don’t be hesitant to try out a few products until you find one that’s comfortable and works. Lastly, for extra protection, try a waterproof mattress pad. It may seem like a hassle, but you’ll thank yourself later if you do end up leaking.

Bladder retraining.

The bladder is a muscle, and just like any muscle, it can be trained over time.  Bladder retraining may help you condition yourself to go longer in between bathroom breaks and you can even try using an alarm to wake you up at certain times of the night to use the toilet.  Over time, you may be able to reduce the number of times you have to get up.

Limit fluids before bed.

Don’t let yourself get dehydrated, but try cutting liquids off an hour or so before bedtime. This is especially true for things like alcohol or caffeine, which can irritate the bladder.

Try a bed-wetting alarm.

There are lots of different types of bed-wetting alarms on the market. These work by waking you when the alarm detects the slightest bit of wetness so that you can make it to the bathroom and avoid an accident. 

Medications

There are some medications that can help treat bladder leaks and may help with bedwetting. Click here to learn more about medications that can be used for adult bedwetting.

Surgical treatment options.

If all else fails, surgery may be an option for treating adult bedwetting. Sacral nerve stimulation, clam cystoplasty and detrusor myctomy are all surgical procedures that may treat adult bedwetting.  Be sure to talk with your doctor about the benefits and risks associated with each one.

We know that as an adult, bedwetting can be a very sensitive topic and can cause deep embarrassment.  But know that you’re not alone – millions suffer from adult bedwetting and there are treatments that can help. 

Talking to others may help calm some of the emotional aspects of adult bedwetting. Join the NAFC message boards to hear stories from others, share your own, or ask for advice.  Our message boards are anonymous and provide a great source of community for those living with incontinence and adult bedwetting.

Do you have any tips that have helped you manage adult bedwetting?  Share them in the comments below!

Planning A Road Trip This Summer? Check Out These Tips To Keep You Dry!

Planning A Road Trip This Summer? Stay Dry With These Tips.

Traveling when you have incontinence can be scary and intimidating – especially when you know there may be times when you’re not going to be near a toilet. But by planning ahead, you’ll be able to have the road trip of your dreams! 

7 Tips For Planning A Road Trip When You Have Incontinence

Pack Wisely.

Being prepared is half the battle when you have incontinence, and it’s especially important when you’re traveling away from your comfort zone.  Be sure to pack appropriately – what types of protection do you need? If you’ll be in the car for long periods of time without the ability to stop, you may need a product that is slightly more absorbent than you’re used to at home. 

Extra pairs of clothes may feel excessive, but can be a huge relief if you have an accident. If you’ll be staying in hotels, think about overnight protection or items to protect the bedding. And, don’t forget about cleanup supplies. A couple of plastic bags, wipes, or other cleanup supplies can come in handy when you’re on the road.

Bring Extras Of Everything.

Bring more than you think you may need of absorbent protection, clothes, and clean up supplies. It may feel excessive, but you’ll be glad to have them if you need them. Pack an extra bag of supplies so that you have back ups.

Wear Dark Colors.

If you do have an accident, it’s easier to hide it when you’re wearing darker colored pants. Loose and light clothing also may be helpful when trying to hide leaks.

Scout Out Your Route.

You likely know the route you’re taking so plan ahead for bathroom stops. Research the towns you’ll be passing along the way and learn about any rest stops that exist along your route. Knowing that you have scheduled bathroom breaks set up in advance may help to calm your mind (and your bladder!) while you’re on the road.

Talk To Your Doctor Well Beforehand.

You may wish to speak with your doctor about medications that could help you while on your trip. Be sure to do this well in advance as some medications may take some time to start working, so you may need to start taking them a couple of months prior to your trip.

Use Technology To Your Advantage.

There are lots of great bathroom finder apps available that can help you out when you need it.  And, apps like Google maps can help you find stops along your journey, as well as inform you of traffic build ups and alternative routes.

 Pay Attention To What You’re Eating and Drinking.

It goes without saying that you’ll need to watch what you’re eating and drinking. If you know something is likely to irritate your bladder, steer clear from it. And while you should never restrict your fluids too much, it’s probably wise to not gulp down a bunch before you hop in the car. 

Don’t let incontinence keep you from getting out and exploring this summer! Follow these simple steps and you’ll soon be wondering why you don’t road trip every year!

Got any great tips for staying dry while traveling? Share them with us in the comments below!

How Do I Know If I'm Drinking Enough Water?

How Do I Know If I’m Drinking Enough Water? Try Our Simple Trick.

When you live with incontinence, it’s easy to think that limiting your fluids will help you to avoid an uncomfortable bladder leak. And while in some cases that may be true, most of the time, restricting your fluids can have negative consequences, including dehydration and foul smelling urine. It may even cause you to have the problem that you are trying to avoid:  a leaky bladder.

It’s long been recommended that we need to drink 8 glasses of water a day. But really, you should drink to quench your thirst, and try to listen to your body to know the right amount of water intake for you. This can vary for everyone so it’s important to listen to your body and drink when you’re thirsty.

 Keep reading to learn more about how limiting your water intake can harm your health, and a tip for knowing if you’re drinking enough.

How Restricting Your Fluids Can Harm Your Health

  1. Dehydration. It’s a fact of life: our bodies need water to function properly. Without it, you will become dehydrated and may experience symptoms such as headaches, muscle cramps, dizziness, lack of energy, not peeing or having dark yellow pee, irritability, or even fainting. 

    The simple fix? If it’s just mild dehydration you’re suffering from drink some water or clear fluid like broth or Gatorade. 2-3 cups may do the job and having you feeling better within the hour.

  2.  However if you experience severe dehydration, you may need hospitalization and intravenous hydration for up to 24 hours to recover.

    Drinking fewer fluids throughout the day can irritate the bladder, leading to more leaks. Yes – it’s true!  What you are trying to avoid may be exactly the thing you are causing!  When you drink less water, you urine becomes very concentrated and can actually irritate the bladder, which can lead to bladder leaks.

    Concentrated urine can also lead to bladder infections or urinary tract infections, which is something we’d all probably like to avoid.

  3. When you do have leaks, they’ll smell a lot more. Remember how we just said your urine becomes more concentrated when you restrict fluids? That also makes it smell a lot more, meaning if you do leak, you’ll have a harder time covering up unpleasant odors.

How Do I Know If I’m Drinking Enough Water? 

So, what’s the right amount for you?  Here’s an easy tip to tell if your water intake is adequate.

The Skin Pinch Test

Pinch the skin on the back of your hand, then let it go. If you’re fully hydrated, your skin should bounce right back. But if it takes longer for the skin to return to normal, you may be dehydrated.   

So whatever you do, don’t skimp on your water! And if you’re finding it hard to work in the recommended 6-8 glasses a day, try some add-ins, like cucumber, berries, or citrus.  Here are some great ideas to spruce up your H2O.

 

 

Urinary Incontinence After Prostate Surgery: Everything You Need To Know

Incontinence After Prostate Surgery

Undergoing a prostatectomy (removal of the prostate due to cancer) can be difficult. And for many men, finding that they are incontinent post surgery may come as a shock.

But rest assured that there are many treatments available to manage incontinence treatment after surgery. Read below for some of the most common questions we receive about incontinence after prostate surgery.  

What causes incontinence after prostate surgery?

Urinary incontinence is a potential side effect of prostate removal surgery. The prostate surrounds the bladder. Removing it, or using radiation to treat it, can sometimes cause damage to the nerves and muscles of the bladder, urethra, and or sphincter, which controls the passage of urine from the bladder. This can result in urinary incontinence.

Is Incontinence Normal After Prostate Surgery?

Approximately 6-8 percent of men who have had surgery to remove their prostate will develop urinary incontinence. (Cleveland Clinic) The good news is that most men will eventually regain bladder control with time.

How bad is incontinence after prostate surgery?

The degree of incontinence varies from person to person and can be anywhere from full on incontinence, to light dribbles. And, the amount you leak right after surgery will likely lessen as you continue with your recovery and any additional bladder or pelvic floor treatments you may be doing.  

How long will I have incontinence after prostate surgery?

Most men who experience a loss of bladder control have symptoms for 6 months to 1 year post prostate surgery. However, a small percentage of men may continue to experience problems past the one year mark.

Does incontinence go away on its own after prostate surgery?

For most men, urinary incontinence will go away within about 1 year. Performing pelvic floor exercises, also known as kegels, which help strengthen the muscles that are located in the base of the pelvis between the pubic bone may help to speed the recovery process along.

Does incontinence happen if I treat prostate cancer with radiation?

Some men need radiation therapy after prostate removal. During radiation therapy, some of the normal tissues around the urinary sphincter, urethra and bladder may be exposed, causing irritation to occur post therapy, leading to incontinence. This typically subsides within a few months after radiation therapy, however if it persists, additional treatments described below may be helpful.

How can I improve incontinence after prostate surgery?

Want to stop incontinence after prostate surgery? Kegels may be your answer! As mentioned above, kegels are a common treatment option for incontinence after prostate surgery.  Among other things, the pelvic floor muscles help control bladder and bowel function and, like other muscles of the body, if they get weak they are no longer able to do their job effectively.  To improve muscle function, kegels must be done regularly, every day. The good news is that they can be performed pretty much anywhere, anytime, and in a variety of positions (sitting, standing, lying down, etc.). For a complete guide on performing a men’s kegel, click here.)

Biofeedback can sometimes be used to determine if you are performing a kegel properly. And, electrical stimulation may also be used to help re-teach the muscles to contract.

What treatments are available to me if my incontinence doesn’t go away after a year?

While kegels and behavioral therapy work well for most men with mild to moderate leaking, they may not be completely effective for some. Luckily, there are still some options for treating bladder leakage after prostate surgery.

Another surgery is sometimes needed when bladder leaks persist for more than a year after surgery. This may consist of having a urethral sling procedure, or an artificial urinary sphincter.

With a urethral sling procedure, a synthetic mesh tape is implanted to support the urethra. Up to an 80% improvement has been seen with this procedure and some men stop leaking completely.

An artificial urinary sphincter is used in patients who have more severe urinary incontinence that is not improving, or for those patients who may have had a lot of damage to the sphincter muscle after prostate surgery. An artificial urinary sphincter is a mechanical ring that helps close the exit from the bladder.

As will all surgeries, these come with pros and cons and potential complications. Be sure to discuss these options with your doctor. 

Incontinence after prostate surgery forums.

Going through prostate cancer and having your prostate removed can be a physically and emotionally trying time in life. Many men are unprepared for the extent to which they may experience bladder leaks after prostate removal and it can be disheartening to have undergone surgery only to experience a loss of bladder control for a period afterward.

Fortunately, this is usually resolved within a year. During that time though, you may find that you need someone to talk to about your experience. Finding a forum or message board filled with people who can relate can help ease some of the tensions that you may be going through. 

The NAFC message boards are a great way to connect with others who may also be experiencing incontinence, due to prostate surgery or other conditions.  They’re free to join and the forum is anonymous so you can speak freely without the worry of feeling embarrassed or ashamed. NAFC is proud of this amazing group of individuals who visit the forums and courageously share their stories, offer support, and provide inspiration to each other. We encourage you to check it out!

Patient Perspective:  How Do I Tell My Wife I Have Incontinence? 

How Do I Tell My Wife I Have Incontinence?

I’ve been incontinent for 1 year now, and my wife has no idea. (At least I don’t think she does).  You see I’ve gone to great lengths to hide it from her.  It’s not like I leak all the time, but a few times a week I find myself unable to make it to the bathroom in time and I have an accident. It horrifies me, since this has never happened before.

My doctor tells me I have an enlarged prostate. This, my wife knows. I’m sure she also knows some of the symptoms, since she’s the type to do research on this stuff. But I haven’t told her I suffer from bladder leaks.

I keep spare underwear hidden in the car.  I limit my fluids when I know we’re going to be out. I always scout out the nearest restroom in case I need to make a beeline to it. I even decline certain events if I think there’s a risk I may have an accident. I feel like I’m living as a secret agent with this condition – always trying to stay 1 step ahead. 

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t told her. Talking with your spouse about something that embarrasses you is never easy. But for me, this is devastating. I’ve always been her “tough guy”. The one who fixes up old cars, goes bowling with the guys on Tuesdays, can handle pretty much anything anyone throws my way. But this is different. It’s made me feel like less of a man. And I feel embarrassed that I can’t control something as simple as my bladder.

I know it’s more complicated than that, but I just can’t help thinking “What will she think of me?”  “Will she still find me attractive?” “Will she think less of me?”

We’ve always been so spontaneous. Running out at a moments notice to meet up with friends at a pub. Jumping on those last minute flights to somewhere tropical. Going to shows and concerts and ball games. I still want to be that person. That guy who does all the fun stuff. But these bladder leaks are getting in the way of that.

I know we’re getting older, but I still just want her to look at me like she always has, and I’m so scared this will change that.

I’m planning to tell her soon. I know that it’s probably better to just get it out there, Knowing my wife, she’ll probably jump right in and try to help. She’s awesome like that.

And, I’m sure her knowing will probably be good for me. We’ll find ways to deal with it together. We’ll find solutions for this condition that I know are out there but I’ve been too stubborn or embarrassed to seek out. It will be better. She will help me make it better.

But the thought of having that conversation with her is still scary as hell.  The telling is really the hardest part of all of this. Wish me luck.

Anonymous

What To Do About An Enlarged Prostate?

What To Do About An Enlarged Prostate

Enlarged prostates are common as you age. Men aged 60 and older have a 50/50 chance of having an enlarged prostate and those who are 85 have a 90% chance. Those may be scary stats, but what exactly does having an enlarged prostate mean? Is it something to worry about? And if so, what are the treatment options? Keep reading to learn more about this very common condition and what it may mean for you.

Anatomy Review – function of the prostate

The main function of the prostate glad is to serve as a reproductive organ. It is responsible for producing prostate fluid, which is one of the main components of semen. The prostate gland muscles also help to transport semen into the urethra during ejaculation.  

The prostate gland sits just below the bladder, where the bladder and urethra (the tube that inside the penis that carries urine and semen out of the body) connect. In early life, it’s about the size and shape of a chestnut, and grows to different sizes throughout a man’s life. 

What causes the prostate to get enlarged?

As men age, the prostate gland grows. It’s estimated than as many as 17 million men have an enlarged prostate, or symptoms of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH). While it’s unclear why the prostate begins to grow, its thought that an excess of certain hormones may be to blame.

Symptoms of an enlarged prostate include the following:

  • A weak or interrupted urinary stream

  • The sudden urgency to urinate

  • Frequent urination

  • An inability to empty the bladder during urination

  • Trouble initiating urine flow, even when you feel like your bladder is full.

Should I worry? 

Even if your prostate becomes enlarged, it may never become an issue for you. The problems start when the prostate begins to constrict or block the urethra. This can compromise the bladder’s ability to effectively empty, causing chronic retention of urine. And, because the bladder still continues to send signals that it needs to empty, urgency and frequency can occur (this is also known as overactive bladder).  If left for too long, the bladder may become distended, making it even harder for it to empty completely. 

For these reasons, it’s important to see your doctor right away if you start experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Additionally, the symptoms of an enlarged prostate can also mimic those of other conditions, such as bladder cancer or overactive bladder. Your doctor will be able to help diagnose your condition to determine an appropriate treatment.

What’s the treatment for an enlarged prostate?

There are many treatment options for enlarged prostate, depending on your symptoms.

Active surveillance, or “watchful waiting” is a term used to describe the act of monitoring your condition regularly for any changes. This approach is often used for men whose symptoms are mild and not too bothersome. 

There are several medications that are approved for BPH, but most of them fall into two categories: Alpha blockers and inhibitors. Both are effective at treating BPH and sometimes are even prescribed in combination with each other.  

Non-invasive treatment options include things like laser therapy, which decreases the size of the prostate by removing some of the tissue, or laser vaporization, which enlarges the prostate obstruction and opens the urethra.  Transurethral microwave therapy or transurethral needle ablation are other non-invasive treatment options that destroy excess prostate tissue that is causing blockage.

Finally, surgery is also commonly used to help relieve symptoms of an enlarged prostate. The most common form of surgery is transurethral resection of the prostate, or TURP. This surgery requires no incisions, relying instead on a surgical instrument inserted through the tip of your penis and the urethra. Using this tool, the doctor is able to trim excess prostate tissue that may be preventing the flow of urine. 

Other less common surgeries are also used to both trim excess tissue from the prostate, or to decrease pressure on the urethra in order to make urinating easier. You can read more about additional surgical options here.

Atlantic Therapeutics Debuts the First FDA-Cleared, Wearable and Non-Invasive Solution for Stress Urinary Incontinence

INNOVO For Stress Urinary Incontinence

 1-IN-3 WOMEN IN AMERICA CAN NOW PROUDLY DECLARE “I JUST FREE’D MYSELF WITH INNOVO THANKS TO REVOLUTIONARY NEW DEVICE TO TREAT ROOT CAUSE OF BLADDER WEAKNESS

Pleasanton, CA (JUNE 5, 2019)“OMG. I just free’d myself!” Today, 20 million women in America will rewrite that whispered, uncomfortable admission of bladder weakness[1] into a declarative, celebratory shout thanks to INNOVO®. As the first-in-class wearable, non-invasive solution for Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI), INNOVO has the potential to positively impact the lives of one in three women.[2] These women will now be able to laugh louder, exercise harder and even sneeze with ease.

The INNOVO thigh-length, elasticized therapeutic shorts are outfitted with eight electrodes sewn in a crisscross formation across the pelvic region. When activated via its attached hand-held controller, INNOVO delivers a series of pelvic stimulations equivalent to Kegel exercises for strengthening the pelvic floor.

“INNOVO can help women declare freedom from incontinence and independence from pads,” said Dr. Nita Landry, board-certified OB/GYN and co-host of the Emmy® Award-winning television show “The Doctors.”  “These innovative, therapeutic shorts with targeted muscle stimulations empower women to treat the source for a long-term solution, rather than rely on a short-term pad to manage the problem.”

According to the Urology Care Foundation, one in three women suffer from SUI at some point in their life. Of those women, 23 percent report it negatively impacts their sex lives and 31 percent dress differently because of their symptoms.[3] Of the 33 percent of women who experience SUI after childbirth, 65 percent are still affected over the next dozen years.[3] 

What is INNOVO?

INNOVO is the first transcutaneous muscle electrical stimulator cleared by the FDA.2 Utilizing its innovative Multipath™ technology, INNOVO sends targeted and pain-free muscle stimulations through a pair of shorts, via neuromuscular electrical stimulation, to safely and effectively strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor.  In a study, 80 percent of INNOVO users saw significant improvements after four weeks and 87 percent were defined as ‘dry’ or ‘near dry’ at the end of three months.

“I’ve seen first-hand the everyday shame and pain patients endure with Stress Urinary Incontinence,” said Dr. Ruth Maher, co-inventor of INNOVO, Professor, Department of Physical Therapy Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine – Georgia. “With more than 2.5 million, safe and successful therapy sessions in Europe, I’m proud and happy to finally bring this prescribed treatment to women in America.”

INNOVO can be used in the privacy and comfort of one’s home while either standing, reclining or lying down. The recommended treatment is 30-minutes a day, five days a week, for three months. After the three-month period, it is recommended that INNOVO be used once a week for 30-minutes. In each 30-minute session, INNOVO delivers 180 perfect pelvic floor stimulations (or Kegels).

Turning Stress Urinary Incontinence into I’m Confident

SUI is the term used when leaks accidentally occur after pressure on the bladder from coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercising. These simple movements put pressure on the bladder and, should the pelvic floor muscles be unable to tighten enough, will cause an involuntary leak. It can happen at any age, however, is most common during pregnancy, post-childbirth [i] and during stages of menopause.

 

The Prescription for a Pad-free Future

INNOVO is available only by a doctor’s prescription for a US retail price of $449.95. Women interested in treating their SUI should visit myinnovo.com for more information. While not covered by insurance, the price is almost a third less than the average $700 per year typically spent on incontinence pads each year.

 

About INNOVO

INNOVO is a first-in-class, wearable and truly non-invasive solution that treats the root cause of SUI or bladder weakness safely.1 Utilizing its innovative technology, INNOVO sends targeted and pain-free muscle stimulations through a pair of shorts, via neuromuscular electrical stimulation (NMES), to safely and effectively strengthen the muscles in the pelvic floor. 

 

About Atlantic Therapeutics 

Atlantic Therapeutics develops professional and consumer medical devices, related software, apps and connected health technologies to treat all types of incontinence, sexual health dysfunctions, and other associated disorders by strengthening muscles and modulating nerves of the pelvic floor. INNOVO from Atlantic Therapeutics is an FDA cleared, externally applied, patented CE device that delivers a safe, clinically effective and comfortable therapy to treat reversible clinical conditions associated with pelvic floor weakness in the comfort of the user’s own home. Learn more at www.myinnovo.com.

 

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References:

[1] Epidemiology Of Mixed, Stress, and Urgency Urinary Incontinence in Middle-aged/older Women: the Importance Of Incontinence History. Yuko Komesu-Ronald Schrader-Loren Ketai-Rebecca Rogers-Gena Dunivan - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4957945/

[2] R. Dmochowski – Novel external electrical muscle stimulation device for the treatment of female stress urinary incontinence: randomized controlled noninferiority trial versus intravaginal electrical stimulation. ICS Conference 2018

[3] Urology Care Foundation. What is Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI)?. https://www.urologyhealth.org/urologic-conditions/stress-urinary-incontinence-(sui). Accessed February 2019.