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.

 

pee when you...laugh, sneeze, cough, workout, have sex….? You’re not alone. Learn about a new option to treat Stress Urinary Incontinence.

Stress Urinary Incontinence Treatment

Stress Urinary Incontinence, the type of incontinence that happens when you exert any type of pressure on your bladder or pelvic floor, happens to millions of American women. The pesky leaks can show up unexpectedly, whether you’re laughing at your best friends joke, or doing a jumping jack in your Tuesday morning workout class.

Peeing your pants something that almost no one wants to admit to. But unfortunately it happens a to a lot of us. And, even worse, many women choose to do nothing about it, chalking it up to a normal part of getting older. 

So let’s set the record straight – bladder leakage is not a right of passage as we age, nor is it something that you should live with. It’s a medical condition that deserves to be treated, because while it might be common, wetting yourself regularly is not normal. 

There are many things that can contribute to SUI. Anytime the pelvic floor is weakened or compromised it can cause the muscles to be a bit lax, making it harder for you to hold in urine.  A common cause is, of course, childbirth – especially if you delivered vaginally.  The mere act of carrying a baby around for nine months and then delivering it can make your muscles weak and even cause some nerve or tissue damage that make you more prone to leaks.

But other things can cause damage too – being overweight puts extra pressure on the pelvic floor, causing it to weaken.  As does having a chronic cough (commonly seen in long-time smokers). And any other type of surgery that may have touched the pelvic floor may make you more susceptible.

Our pelvic floor does also naturally weaken a bit as we age. Most people don’t pay much attention to their pelvic floors, which can cause problems later in life.

The pelvic floor is a muscle, and like any other muscle in the body, it needs to be strengthened in order for it to do its job. If you’ve had damage to the pelvic floor at some point in your life, like during childbirth, you may have already put it in a state of weakness, even if you didn’t immediately have any problems like incontinence.

But without treating it, gravity can continue to weaken the pelvic floor and can lead to things like incontinence, or other types of pelvic floor disorders.

All that being said, it’s important to note that while incontinence may happen more often when we’re older, it can strike anyone at any age. New moms may be just as susceptible to experiencing bladder leaks as someone who gave birth 30 years ago. 

The good news is there are many options to treat it. One of the newest options is a product called INNOVO.

INNOVO

INNOVO: A new product for Stress Urinary Incontinence 

New to the scene is a product from Atlantic Therapeutics called INNOVO.  INNOVO is the first wearable, active and truly non-invasive solution to treat stress urinary incontinence. INNOVO is cleared by the FDA, and provides women a safe, clinically effective solution that treats the root cause, not just the symptoms of bladder weakness.

How it works.

INNOVO’s Multipath technology delivers 180 gentle pulses, strengthening the pelvic floor during each 30-minute session.

The device is cleverly hidden in a pair of easy-to-slip on shorts that deliver 180 pulses to stimulate muscle contraction. INNOVO shorts are comfortable and are made of breathable, skin-friendly material, which come in a range of sizes.

INNOVO is highly effective. It’s been proven to clinically treat SUI when used for 30 minutes a day, five days a week for 12 weeks. In fact, 80% of users found that INNOVO significantly improved their quality of life. After just 4 weeks, 80% of INNOVO users saw significant improvement and after 12 weeks of use, 87% of reported being dry or nearly dry.

The best part? You’re able to use INNOVO in the comfort of your own home.

INNOVO is now available! Talk to your doctor or PT about this innovative new product and learn how you can start using it to address Stress Urinary Incontinence.

Learn more about INNOVO here.

 

 

 

 

 

What Causes Incontinence In Men

What Causes Incontinence In Men?

Bladder leaks can happen to anyone at any age. While we’ve been conditioned to think that mostly older women are affected by the condition, many men suffer from incontinence too. 

There are many conditions that can lead to urinary incontinence in men. But luckily there are also many ways to treat it. Keep reading to learn some of the reasons men develop leaky bladders, how it’s diagnosed, and ways to treat it.

What is urinary incontinence?

Urinary incontinence is the accidental leakage of urine. Many people wrongly assume that developing urinary incontinence is something that just happens as you age. This couldn’t be further from the truth. It can develop in anyone, at anytime. And there are several possible causes for it.

First, let’s start off with learning a bit about how everything works.

The urinary system is composed of two kidneys, two ureters, a bladder, and a urethra. The kidneys remove waste products from the blood and continuously produce urine. The muscular, tube-like ureters move urine from the kidneys to the bladder, where it is stored until it flows out of the body through the urethra. A circular muscle, called the sphincter, controls the activity of the urethra and keeps urine in the bladder until it is time to urinate.

Normally, the bladder wall is relaxed while storing (or filling with) urine and the urethra is closed off by the sphincter. Your pelvic floor muscles also help keep the bladder outlet closed by supporting the urethra.

When the bladder is working correctly, the bladder sends signals to the brain to let you know how full it is, and to the sphincter to tell it to stay closed and prevent the bladder muscle from contracting.

When the bladder is full, you allow the pelvic floor as well as muscles at the outlet of the bladder to relax and open up. As this is happening, the muscle in the wall of the bladder (detrusor muscle) begins to contract and continues contracting until the bladder is completely emptied.

This process of bladder filling and emptying is obviously very complex. When any part of the urinary system or pelvic floor does not work correctly, incontinence can result.

If any of these signals don’t happen or get confused, bladder leakage can happen. 

What causes urinary incontinence in men?

Many things may contribute to bladder leakage in men.

The most common reason men experience incontinence is due to problems with the prostate. As men age, the prostate gland grows. It is estimated that 17 million men have an enlarged prostate, or symptoms of Benign Prostate Hyperplasia (BPH). The prostate gland wraps around the urethra (the bladder outlet), so an enlarged prostate can constrict or block the urethra. This is known as prostatic obstruction.

Prostatic obstruction can compromise the bladder’s ability to effectively empty, causing chronic retention of urine. This contributes to urgency and frequency because the bladder still signals that it needs emptying. If left untreated, the bladder can become distended, worsening its ability to contract and completely empty. It is possible to have prostatic obstruction even if the prostate is not enlarged.

Men may also experience Overactive Bladder (OAB) which is characterized by a sudden and urgent need to urinate, and needing to urinate frequently. This becomes urgency urinary incontinence when you are not able to reach the bathroom before losing control of the bladder.

Additionally, conditions that cause damage to the nerves, such as diabetes can cause bladder problems since it disrupts the normal signaling from the bladder to the brain to help control bladder function. Other conditions, such as stroke, can also cause incontinence, and even some medications or certain foods or drinks can contribute to urinary incontinence. 

How is urinary incontinence in men diagnosed? 

Before your appointment, take note of your symptoms so that you can relay them to your doctor. Symptoms of incontinence to look for are:

  • Diminished or interrupted urine flow

  • An urgent or sudden need to urinate

  • Increased frequency of urination

  • Inability to empty the bladder completely when urinating

  • Difficulty starting the urine flow, even when the bladder feels full

  • Getting up more than once per night to urinate (nocturia)

  • Accidental urine leakage

Talking to your doctor is the first step toward treatment.  At your appointment, your doctor will likely ask for your medical history, give you a complete physical examination, and provide a urine specimen. You may be asked to keep a bladder diary to record your symptoms.  Other tests to examine the bladder and/or prostate may also be necessary. 

Once your doctor has diagnosed your bladder condition, you can work together to decide on a treatment option that best fits your needs and works with your lifestyle.

What treatment options exist for men with urinary incontinence?

The good news is that there are lots of treatments available to men with urinary incontinence.  Your treatment path will depend on what is causing your condition.

For men with an enlarged prostate, your doctor may recommend medications to reduce symptoms and reduce the size of the prostate. Minimally invasive treatments, or even surgery is sometimes done to increase the flow of urine.  

Men with OAB may also be prescribed medications to help calm the bladder.  In cases where medication is not an option or isn’t working, minimally invasive treatments such as InterStim may be used.  This is an implanted device that helps to establish more normal function of the bladder by gently stimulating the sacral nerve. Behavioral modifications can also help with OAB. Changes in your diet, bladder training, and pelvic floor muscles are often used to help control urinary incontinence caused by OAB.

Many men also experience incontinence after prostate cancer surgery. When the prostate gland is removed, damage may occur to nerves, tissues, and the sphincter muscle that can impair the bladder's ability to store urine without leaking. This may last for just a few months during recovery, or longer. Depending on the severity of incontinence, there are several options that may help.  

Performing pelvic muscle exercises (kegels) are an important part of treating incontinence in men. Kegel exercise done before and after surgery can help to recover bladder control and are important for maintaining erectile function.  When done correctly, kegels can strengthen the muscles that support the bladder, causing fewer leaks, and improving bladder and bowel control. (Click here for a men’s guide to doing kegels.)

 If additional help is needed, other surgical options may be available. Your doctor can talk about the pros and cons of the various surgical options available.

Seeking Help Is The First Step

If you’re struggling with urinary incontinence, the most important thing to remember is that help is available. It’s not just a women’s issue – MANY men live with this condition too and there is no need to suffer in silence.  Talk with your doctor to learn the root cause of your bladder leakage and to find a treatment that works for you. 

Our Favorite Way To Improve Your Pelvic Floor Health

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Is Stress Contributing To Your Incontinence?

Is Stress Contributing To Your Incontinence?

As you may already know, incontinence is really common. Approximately 15 million American women deal with urinary incontinence. And about 24% of women over 40 have experienced fecal incontinence at least once in the past year, too.

But, just because incontinence is common doesn’t take away the embarrassment. The sheer thought of an unexpected leak is stressful. Plus, research shows that stress and incontinence are closely intertwined. But do stress, anxiety, and other mental health issues cause incontinence? Or does incontinence negatively impact our mental health? With 1 in 5 American adults, or 43.8 million people, experiencing mental health issues every year, you just might want to stick around to find out.

The Impact of Stress on the Bladder

Have you ever said “I’m so scared, I might pee myself?” Well, it turns out there’s real science behind that expression. When you’re really afraid or anxious, your body goes into fight or flight mode. And it’s thought that the adrenaline pumping through you triggers your need to pee.

So, there’s definitely a link between what’s going on in your brain (fear, anxiety, etc) and what might be coming out of your bladder. Anxiety and stress can cause you to urinate more frequently, too.

The Impact of Stress on the GI Tract

If you haven’t heard the phrase “I was so scared, I almost peed myself,” maybe you have heard “I was so scared, I almost pooped myself.” Your ability to hold in urine and feces is controlled by the same muscles so it makes sense that they’d behave the same way under stress. It’s true that stress and anxiety can cause diarrhea so we know that our bowels are impacted by stress.

Looking at studies of IBS patients, too, the connection between bowel health and mental health is clear. About 60% of IBS patients have generalized anxiety disorder. Another 20% have depression. That’s a pretty significant overlap.

Incontinence and Mental Health

So, back to the chicken and egg question. Both anxiety and depression have been found in many patients with incontinence. But was the incontinence caused by the mental health problems or did the mental health problems cause the incontinence?

It turns out it’s a two way street when it comes to anxiety and urinary incontinence. Anxiety and incontinence interact and exacerbate each other. And, anxiety is a risk factor for developing incontinence.

The same appears to be true with other mental health issues, like depression, which is also a risk factor for developing incontinence. Several studies have linked depression to urinary incontinence in women especially. And, people with pelvic floor disorders (incontinence is one type of pelvic floor disorder) are three times more likely to experience depression than the general population.

Anxiety even rears its head when you start talking about overactive bladder.  According to one study, 48% of patients with overactive bladder exhibit anxiety symptoms. Plus, according to the same study, about 24% of OAB patients have moderate to severe anxiety.

While anxiety and incontinence don’t have to go together, it’s easy to see how incontinence can cause anxiety -- maybe even more anxiety than you started with.

What You Can Do

It’s easy for someone on the outside to say just don’t worry, right? However, this is definitely one of those things that’s easier said than done. If you have significant anxiety or depression, please give your doctor a call. For the more common daily stressors in all of our lives, there are things you can do to help you worry less and hopefully decrease leaks too.

One option is to use absorbent products, so that the only person that knows you leaked is you. NAFC recently conducted a study that found that those who felt positively about wearing absorbent products said it was because it made them feel more protected and in control. And who doesn’t want to feel more in control? Plus, Lily Bird can help take the stress out of going to the store by delivering pads and disposable underwear straight to your door.

Don’t forget about trying pilates to doing Kegels or making dietary changes to see if that helps with incontinence or stress, too. Whether your stress is a symptom or a cause, getting it under control can help no matter what situation you’re in.

~Written by Lily Bird, a proud Trusted Partner of NAFC

About Lily Bird

Lily Bird

Lily Bird is for all of us women with leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas. We squeeze when we sneeze and drip when we jump. And we think it's high time we stop saying sorry for the spritz.

If you’re ready to tell your bladder who’s boss, Lily Bird has you covered with pads and underwear for leaky laughs and dribble dilemmas delivered right to your door. Start your free trial today.


What Are Kidney Stones? And How Do They Contribute To Incontinence?

What Are Kidney Stones?

Kidney stones affect 1 in 11 people in the US.  Kidney stones can (literally) be a real pain. But what are they? What causes them? And how can they be prevented? Read on to find out.

What are kidney stones?

The kidneys are part of your urinary tract system. Their job is to control the fluid and chemical levels in the body by cleaning the blood, then creating urine from the waste and the excess fluid in the body. Sometimes, the urine in your body contains a high level of minerals and salts that form hard deposits inside of your kidneys. These are kidney stones. Kidney stones may start out small, but can grow quite large in some cases.  

Kidney stones sometimes don’t have any symptoms, and remain inside the kidneys without issue. Or, they may travel through the urinary tract to the bladder, where they exit the body through urine. Passing a kidney stone can sometimes take several weeks and may be quite painful.  If the stone is too large, it may become lodged in the urinary tract, creating even more problems.

Types of Kidney Stones.

There are four types of kidney stones. These include: 

  • Calcium stones. These are the most common type of kidney stones. Certain diets or metabolic conditions or medications may contribute to an increase in calcium in urine.

  • Struvite stones. These types of stones form in response to an infection, like a bladder infection. Although rare, these stones can be more common in people prone to getting urinary tract infections.

  • Uric acid stones. These happen to people who drink too little fluids or who eat a high protein diet.  Certain conditions can also lead to uric acid stones, such as type 2 diabetes, or gout.

  • Cystine stones. A hereditary condition causing the kidneys to produce too much of certain amino acids.  

Do Kidney Stones Cause Incontinence?

Kidneys stones can sometimes interfere with urination, since they travel down the tubes leading from the kidneys to the bladder. This can create blockages, which may make it difficult to pass urine. Kidney stones may also make you feel like you need to urinate more often. You may feel an urgent need to use the bathroom. Sometimes this can lead to leaks if you are unable to make it to a bathroom in time. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Kidney Stones?

They symptoms of a kidney stone may vary depending on the location and size of the stone. Some stones are so small they may not cause any discomfort at all. (Although even small stones can cause a lot of pain.) Or, the symptoms may change as the stone shifts and moves from the kidney to the bladder. Typically symptoms of kidney stones may include:

  • Pain in the back or sides, the groin, or the lower abdomen. 

  • Pain when urinating

  • Red, pink or brown tinted urine. This happens when blood enters the urine.

  • Cloudy or bad smelling urine

  • Needing to urinate often, or feeling an intense need to empty your bladder.

  • Feeling a burning sensation when urinating

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Passing small amounts of urine

 

Are Kidney Stones Painful?

 Kidney stones can range from being uncomfortable, to extremely painful, and the amount of pain, and location of that pain can change as the stone moves through your urinary tract. 

Why are kidney stones so painful? It makes sense when you think about it. The stone is trying to pass through the tube from the kidney to the bladder, which is extremely small. As the stone enters the tube, it may block urine, causing it to build up and create pressure and pain. In addition, the ureter (the tube that connects the kidneys to the bladder) contracts as the stone moves through it, pushing it closer to the bladder to get rid of it, which also causes pain.

You may feel this pain in the back or sides, where the kidneys are located or, as the stone moves closer to the bladder, you may feel it in your abdomen or groin, and urination may feel painful, much like when you have a urinary tract infection.

What Causes Kidney Stones?

There is no one cause of kidney stones, but certain diets or conditions may make you more prone to developing them.  Having a family history of kidney stones, not drinking enough fluid, being overweight, and certain diets can all make you more susceptible to getting kidney stones. Additionally, if you have conditions such as diabetes, gout, or gastrointestinal diseases (diarrhea, constipation, IBS), you may be at a greater risk for developing kidney stones.  

How Do You Treat Kidney Stones?

Waiting for the kidney stone to pass is the most common form of treatment.  This can take from a few days to a few weeks.  Luckily, over-the-counter pain medications can help relieve most of the discomfort you may feel. 

 However, if you’re in unbearable pain, or the stone becomes lodged for too long, surgery to remove the stone may be required. 

How Do You Prevent Kidney Stones?

Some people are more prone to develop kidney stones, based on heredity or their own history of stones.  People who have had kidney stones in the past are more likely to develop another in the future.

However, there are some things that you can do to help prevent those hard mineral deposits from forming in the first place. 

  • Stay Hydrated. Ensure you’re drinking enough water to stay hydrated. By maintain a good amount of fluid in the body, the kidney is better able to filter calcium, making it less likely that a build up will occur.  

  • Watch Your Diet. If you suffer from frequent kidney stones, avoid high protein diets, and reduce your sugar, and especially your salt consumption. Watch your calcium intake too to ensure you’re not overdoing it (pay attention to vitamins and supplements, especially if you’re already eating calcium rich foods). 

  • Reduce Your Weight.  Losing weight can reduce your risk for kidney stones. This is in part because reducing your weight may lead to a healthier diet, with less salty food or animal fats.  Incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables into your diet and practice regular exercise to reduce the weight.

If you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, make an appointment with your doctor to get it checked out.

Treatments For Neurogenic Bladder

Treatment Options For Neurogenic Bladder

Having a neurological condition, such as Multiple Sclerosis or Parkinson’s disease can be overwhelming, both physically and emotionally.  But one thing many people may not realize is how it will affect their bladder. Luckily, there are treatments available that can help to minimize symptoms of neurogenic bladder and allow you to live without the fear of an accident. Today, we’re going to discuss what neurogenic bladder is, and 2 ways you can treat it.  

What Is Neurogenic Bladder? 

Neurogenic bladder affects many Americans and occurs when there is a problem with the way your brain communicates with your bladder. People who have a neurogenic bladder usually experience a bladder that is either overactive (spastic) or underactive (flaccid).

 

What are the symptoms of a neurogenic bladder?

There are many symptoms of a neurogenic bladder. These include: 

  • Incontinence

  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs)

  • Frequent urination

  • An urgent need to use the empty the bladder immediately

  • Painful urination

  • The inability to completely empty the bladder

  • A weak urine stream

  • Nocturia, the need to empty the bladder more than once per night

 

What treatment options exist for Neurogenic Bladder?

Luckily, there are many treatment options for Neurogenic Bladder.

Behavioral modifications.

Certain foods and drinks are known bladder irritants and may contribute to an overactive bladder. Try keeping a bladder diary to identify any triggers that may be causing your bladder problems and then work to avoid them. Additionally, maintaining a healthy weight through diet and exercise can help ease pressure placed on the bladder and also strengthen the pelvic floor muscles used to control bladder function. 

Self Catheterization.

Many people with neurogenic bladders use a catheter to control their bladder. A catheter is a thin tube that is inserted into the urethra and then into the bladder to allow urine to drain from the bladder.  While using a catheter may sound a little intimidating at first, most people are able to master the process quickly and it can provide a great deal of freedom for those struggling with bladder control.

Pharmaceutical Options.

There are a number of pharmaceutical options available – both prescription and over the counter. Always talk with your doctor before trying something new.   

Botox Injections.

It’s not just for wrinkles!  Botox is also approved for overactive bladder (spastic bladders). Your doctor will inject botox into the bladder muscle, where it helps to block the nerve signals that trigger OAB, or spastic bladder.  Many people find this reduces leaks and the number of times you need to urinate each day. It also helps with that urgent feeling of needing to empty the bladder. 

Surgery

If all else fails, there are different surgeries available to treat neurogenic bladder.  Bladder augmentation is a surgical procedure to make the bladder larger. This helps reduce the pressure in the bladder, and reduce leaks.

If you’re living with Neurogenic Bladder, talk with your doctor about treatment options. Need help finding a qualified specialist? Try our Doctor Finder!

 

Ask The Expert: Does Incontinence Happen Over Time Or Does It Come On Suddenly?

Ask The Expert: Does Incontinence Happen Over Time Or Does It Come On Suddenly?

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: Does incontinence happen over time, or is it something that comes on suddenly?

Expert Answer:  This really depends on your unique situation. For many people, aging, and pelvic floors that have been weakened over time can slowly contribute to incontinence. For women, this process may have started with childbirth as the initial factor that caused the weakness. Overtime, if not treated or seen to, a weak pelvic floor can lead to incontinence, even if it didn’t happen right away after birth (or if it went away for a while).

There are other things that can contribute to incontinence over time too. Being over weight can place excess pressure on the bladder, making it harder to avoid accidents. Smoking can contribute to incontinence since many long-time smokers develop a chronic cough, again placing excess pressure on the bladder and causing the pelvic floor to weaken over time.

Certain neurological diseases, such as MS or Parkinson’s Disease, and diabetes, can also increase your risk for incontinence, as they interfere with the nerve signals between the bladder and the brain.

However, other things can contribute to incontinence too, and can be much more apparent quickly rather than over a period of time.  In men, prostate surgery can sometimes lead to a period of incontinence immediately after the procedure. And incontinence can also result in anyone who may have had neurological damage, such as spinal cord damage from an accident, or other medical condition.  Even some minor conditions, such as a bladder infection, may cause a sudden episode of incontinence. 

Finally, sometimes the foods you eat or the medications you take may cause you to have incontinence. There are many known bladder irritants that can contribute to incontinence: alcohol, caffeine, spicy or acidic foods (keep in mind that this is a case by case basis – not everyone is affected by every bladder irritant).  And, some medications, such has heart and blood pressure medications, or muscle relaxants may act as diuretics, causing you to increase your urine production, and potentially leading to incontinence.

The most important thing to remember here, no matter how incontinence comes about, is that it’s not a normal condition. Common? Yes. Normal? No. Incontinence is not an inevitable part of aging, nor should it be something you feel you need to live with. Many people can see great improvements with behavioral and lifestyle changes, and if those don’t work, you can talk to your doctor about medications, in-office treatments, or even surgery. 

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!

 

Bladder Health Hacks

Bladder Health Hacks

Those with incontinence know that having it can be a lot of work. Just being prepared takes effort, and having an accident can create a laundry list (literally) of things you have to do.

There are of course many standard things that you do to protect yourself. Wear protection, talk to your doctor, etc. But, like with any condition, people find different ways of coping that may not always seem as obvious to others. We wanted to know what people do on a daily basis that helps them deal with incontinence. So we asked. Here are some of the best tips we heard:

Talk about it. 

One of the first and best things you can do when you have incontinence is to talk about it. Many people are embarrassed to have incontinence and for that reason try to keep it hidden from friends, family and even their doctor for years. But opening up about your incontinence can really take a load off. You’ll often find that people are supportive you and you may just find the push you need to seek treatment. Too nervous to talk to someone close to you? Try the NAFC message boards. It’s an anonymous forum filled with supportive people who are experiencing bladder or bowel conditions. It’s a warm and friendly community and can be a great place to connect with others who can share tips with you, or just lend an ear.  Sign up for the message boards here.

Don’t be afraid to change your doctor.

Most physicians are very helpful when patients come to them with incontinence. But if you feel that you’re being brushed off, it’s time to find a new physician. Incontinence may be common as we age, but it’s not normal, and you should never be told to just live with it. And, if you’re feeling like your treatment plan just isn’t cutting it, talk to your doctor about changing things up. Remember – you are in charge of your own health. Be your own advocate.  

Baby powder.

We’ve heard from many people that using baby powder helps to keep moisture at bay when wearing absorbent briefs.  This is a great option to try if you experience a lot of sweating.

Research your condition. 

So many people with incontinence live for years in denial, thinking that if they ignore the problem, it might go away, or at the very least, they won’t have to admit they have the condition. But that’s not a good way to live. Learn as much as you can about your condition and the treatments available. Try behavioral modifications to see if any of them work. Talk to your doctor about your research, and let him or her know if you find something you‘re interested in trying.  Again – no one will care more about your health than you, so don’t be a bystander. Get busy and be in the know. Because knowledge really is power.

Pay attention to what you eat. 

It sounds simple, but watching what you eat really can have an effect on your bladder. First, identify your triggers. Keep a bladder diary for a few days and see if you notice any patterns. Do you feel an urgent need every time you have a diet soft drink? Have an accident each morning after your orange juice? You might start to see some trends that correlate to what you eat, indicating that those are foods that are irritating your bladder. Once you identify your problem foods or drinks, try eliminating them and see if it makes a difference.

Don’t be afraid to try lots of products until you find one that works.

There are so many products on the market, it’s nearly impossible that you won’t eventually find one that works for you. The trick is to think about the 3 F’s: form, fit and function. In other words, figure out what style you like, make sure the fit is good, and think about how and when you will use the product. Then, try lots of brands and styles until you find one that works best. Many mail order services offer sample packs to make it easier (and less expensive) to try different products and most of them also have consultants on hand to walk you through selecting something that will be right for you. 

Be brave.

Incontinence can really shake up your confidence. You may feel nervous to go out for fear of having an accident. Or you may be scared that someone will notice you’re wearing absorbent products. But incontinence is a medical condition, and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. And since over 25 million people live with incontinence, you likely know someone else who has this problem too. So keep your chin up, get treatment, and get busy living your life. Holding yourself back because of something like incontinence just isn’t worth it.

Can MS Cause Incontinence?

Can MS Cause Incontinence?

March is Multiple Sclerosis Awareness Month here in the US and we’re taking a moment to talk about MS and it’s effect on the bladder and bowel.

What is Multiple Sclerosis?

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) happens when the body’s immune system attacks the protective coating around the nerve fibers in the central nervous system (CNS), damaging the nerves. This alters or stops the messages within the CNS and can produce a variety of symptoms in people.

What are the symptoms of MS?  

While symptoms of MS vary from person to person, and even within the same person at different points throughout their lifetime, some of the more common symptoms of MS are fatigue, pain, numbness or tingling, weakness, walking difficulty, vision problems, sexual problems, dizziness and vertigo, bladder and bowel problems, thinking difficulty, emotional changes and depression.1  Luckily, many of these symptoms are treatable with medication.

How does MS affect bladder function?

In a healthy bladder, the nerves in the bladder communicate through the spinal cord to the brain, notifying it that the bladder needs to be emptied. For this process to work smoothly, it requires a coordination between the bladder muscles and the sphincter.

For people with MS, bladder function can be impaired when the signal from the bladder to the brain is delayed or blocked. This can cause the bladder to be either overactive (often referred to as a “spastic” bladder), or under-active, resulting in the inability to empty the bladder completely.  Either of these conditions can lead to a variety of problems, including:

  • Urinary Urgency (The need to urinate frequently and urgently.)

  • Nocturia (Needing to wake to use the bathroom more than one time per night.)

  • Difficulty urinating.

  • Sphincter Dyssynergia A problem where there is both a storage dysfunction and an emptying dysfunction. The bladder is trying to contract and empty, and the urethra contracts instead of relaxing, allowing little or no urine to pass.

  • Under-active Bladder: The nerve signals from the bladder to the brain are damaged and the signal for the bladder to contract and release urine are blocked. This can cause the bladder to eventually overflow and leak urine, or, if the bladder cannot empty completely, results in urinary retention.

In addition to disease related complications, some medications for MS can also cause bladder problems.

How can bladder problems with MS be treated?

Luckily, there are various treatment options that can be used to address bladder problems associated with multiple sclerosis. 

Behavioral modifications, such as avoiding bladder irritating foods and drinks, and bladder retraining can help to manage problems in some people. Pelvic floor physical therapy can also work by strengthening the pelvic floor muscle, providing greater muscle control.

Intermittent self-catheterization, in which a small tube is inserted into the urethra to empty the bladder, can prevent the bladder from overfilling and help prevent urinary infections.

There are many pharmaceutical options available for bladder control. In addition, PTNS, Interstim, and Botox are all in office procedures that can have a positive effect on bladder control for many patients.

Talk to your doctor about your options to find one that works best for you.

References: 1. National MS Society: https://www.nationalmssociety.org/Symptoms-Diagnosis/MS-Symptoms

What Is A Pessary And Do I Need One?

What Is A Pessary And Do I Need One?

If you have incontinence, or a pelvic organ prolapse, you’ve likely heard the term “pessary” tossed around at some point.  Pelvic organ prolapse is a condition in which your pelvic floor becomes weak or compromised – sometimes due to age, sometimes due to trauma (like childbirth), causing one or more of your pelvic organs to collapse into the vagina. Pelvic organ prolapse can be mild, or severe, and symptoms can vary greatly depending on the severity. Some women may not even realize they have a prolapse until later in life.  Symptoms can include pressure or a feeling of heaviness in the vagina, incontinence, or even pain.

While some women can see big improvements in their condition with physical therapy, the condition cannot truly be “fixed” without surgery.  But, it is possible to manage pelvic organ prolapse by using a pessary. 

A pessary is a medical device, typically made out of silicone that is placed in the vagina and is used to support the pelvic floor, and the bladder, uterus and rectum.  Pessaries are not a one-size-fits all type of device. Everyone is different so your doctor will usually fit you for one that works for you. This may take a few tries, so don’t get discouraged if the first one you try doesn’t feel quite right.  Just be open with your doctor and work with them until you get the right fit.

Once you’ve found the right fit, your doctor will train you on how to insert and remove the device.  You’ll also learn how to care for your pessary, which will require weekly or biweekly cleansing.   

Pessaries can be a great solution for women with pelvic organ prolapse, or bladder incontinence, who don’t want to consider surgery (or are not quite ready for surgery yet).  It works by “holding up” the organs that may have collapsed into the vagina, relieving many of the side effects of a prolapse, such as the feeling of pressure or heaviness in the vagina, or incontinence.   

If you think you may be a good candidate for a pessary, talk to your doctor. They can review the pros and cons and help get you fitted for one.  It’s a great option for those experiencing symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, and can provide great relief without undergoing surgery.

 

Learning To Open Up To Family And Friends About Incontinence

Learning To Open Up To Family And Friends About Incontinence

Talking about incontinence is hard for many people.  Even talking to a doctor can be challenging: on average, people wait 7 years before even seeking help for this condition.  But sometimes opening up can be the best thing you can do to begin the process of moving past your embarrassment and moving on to treatment.  

But how do you start? And whom do you start with?  Our advice is simple: find someone you trust and whom you think will be supportive. Many times this is a spouse or a partner, or a close friend or family member.  You don’t need to shout about your bladder leaks from the rooftops – often just telling one person helps to unleash the burden you’ve been carrying around and can help give voice to the anxiety and worry that has been racing around in your head.

Here are some great tips to follow when starting the conversation: 

1. Set the conversation up by letting them know that you need their support.  Some ways to start the conversation might be:

  • “I’ve been dealing with a health issue for a while and could really use someone to talk to about it. Can I talk to you?”

  • “I have a condition that’s really been getting me down. Do you have a moment to talk?”

  • “As a close friend/spouse/family member, I know that you are supportive of me. Can I talk openly to you about an issue I’ve been experiencing?”

 2. Be open.  If you’re going to talk to them, then make sure you’re being open and honest.  We know talking to others about your own bladder leakage can be hard, but if you’re really talking to someone close to you, they’ve likely suspected something was up for a while.  Let them know not just the issue, but how it’s been making you feel. 

3. Tell them what you need from them.  Are you talking to them because you don’t want to hide the problem anymore? Do you need some help researching treatment options? Are you asking for their advice on what to do? Or do you just want a sounding board to help get some things off your chest? Whatever the case may be, help them be there for you by letting them know what you expect from them.

Opening up can be hard, but it’s healthy to talk about the things that are bothering you.  And, if you feel that you don’t have anyone close to you to discuss the issue (or even if you do!), make an appointment with your doctor. He or she will be able to give you sound advice and treatment recommendations. And, it’s likely that he’s been in that seat before with other patients, so he knows just what you’re going through.   

Need help finding a physician? Visit our Find A Specialist Tool!

Best Foods For Bladder Health

Best Foods For Bladder Health

Do you run to the bathroom after every meal?  Do you ever notice that you always seem to have an accident after eating a specific type of food? It’s no coincidence.  What you eat and drink has a huge effect on your bathroom habits, and if you’re suffering from bladder leakage (or bowel leakage, for that matter), it’s worth your time to start paying more attention to your diet. 

There are many known bladder irritants that may be causing you trouble. 

Below is a list of some of the most common foods that have been known to irritate the bladder:

  • Alcohol

  • Apples

  • Carbonated beverages

  • Chocolate

  • Citrus Juice & Fruits

  • Coffee

  • Corn Syrup

  • Cranberries

  • Spicy Foods

  • Honey

  • Milk

  • Sugar & Artificial Sweeteners

  • Tea

  • Tomatoes

  • Vinegar 

The sugar, caffeine, or acidity in these foods and drinks can irritate the bladder, causing an accidental leakage to occur. If you think one of these foods may be contributing to your bladder leaks, try eliminating it from your diet for a couple of weeks and see what happens. After a while, slowly add it back in and see if the problem reemerges. If so, you know it’s a food or drink you should avoid. 

Everyone is different of course, and not all of the foods listed above will be triggers for everyone. That cup of coffee that causes you to sprint to the ladies room each morning may not have any effect on someone else struggling with bladder leakage. That’s why it’s so important to keep track of what you eat and drink. A bladder diary can be ideal for this task by letting you track what you consume, and also when you have accidents.  Over time, you may start to see a correlation between that tomato sauce you love and your trips to the bathroom.  A bladder diary also comes in handy when talking with your doctor about your condition. It gives them a roadmap of what you’re experiencing and helps them in diagnosing your problem and finding a solution.

Ready to start tracking? Download your free bladder or bowel diary here.

 

Should I Use A Probiotic?

Should You Use A Probiotic?

If you’ve been paying attention to the news at all in the past year or two, you’ve likely noticed an increase in stories about the importance of gut health. The gut, it turns out, is responsible for how your body works –your immunity, your energy levels, your hormone balance, waste elimination, and even how you think can all be affected by an unhealthy gut.  And while there are many factors that affect gut health (stress levels, the amount of shut-eye you get), what you eat plays an important role in ensuring your gut is helping you operate optimally. 

As of late, many health gurus have been touting probiotics as a great way to improve your gut health. And it’s true that the gut needs good probiotics, the “good” bacteria found in some foods and supplements to help it do its job. But how do you get these good bacteria, and are they right for you? 

Most experts agree that a healthy dose of probiotics is a good thing for most people. You can get many probiotics through foods you might be eating already. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, tempeh and kimchi, yogurt, and beverages like kefir and kombucha, are all great options if you want to eat more probiotic foods. You may also want to consider a probiotic supplement if your diet lacks these food types. 

Experts warn to use a bit of caution when initially consuming foods high in probiotics, as they may cause a bit of irritation in your digestive system as your body gets used to them.  Additionally, many probiotic supplements are not regulated by the FDA, so it’s important to do your research on brands and choose a high-quality product.  As always, talk with your doctor before you start taking a probiotic, as they may not be for everyone. Those with an illness that affects the immune system may not be a good fit, as the probiotics may cause the person to get sick.

Want some more info on this subject? Here’s a great guide on taking probiotics from Harvard Health.

Can Incontinence Be Prevented?

Can Incontinence Be Prevented?

We often talk about incontinence as if it has already happened. In most cases, if you’re visiting this website, it probably has. But there are many things that you can do that can prevent incontinence from starting in the first place. Most of these things may also help you manage, or even eliminate symptoms of incontinence once you’ve already gotten it. Read below for some tips to stop incontinence in its tracks.

5 Tips To Prevent Incontinence

Tip #1: Maintain A Healthy Weight

Carrying around extra weight puts a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, causing the muscles to weaken and lead to leaks. In addition, folks who are overweight generally put extra pressure on their bladder, which can lead to leakage. Maintain a healthy weight by following a healthy diet and making exercise a part of your daily routine. Bonus: incorporating exercise into your day can strengthen your core and pelvic floor muscles, leading to even greater protection from leaks.

Tip #2: Don’t Smoke

Smoking on its own is an ugly habit and harmful to your health in more ways than one. People who smoke can eventually develop a chronic “smokers cough”. This chronic coughing can put a lot of strain on the pelvic floor, causing it to weaken and lead to incontinence. Smoking also irritates the bladder, causing you to need more frequent trips to the bathroom. And, smoking can lead to bladder cancer. Need help kicking the habit? Read these tips.  

Tip #3: Keep Your Pelvic Floor In Shape

The pelvic floor is a basket of muscles that supports the bladder, rectum and the uterus in women, and the bladder, rectum and prostate in men.  These muscles are essential in maintaining control over your bladder and bowel. Keeping the pelvic floor healthy can go a long way in preventing or treating incontinence.  Learn more about the pelvic floor and how you can protect it here. 

Tip #4: See A PT After Childbirth

We just talked about how important the pelvic floor is in maintaining continence. But certain things, like childbirth, can really wreak havoc on the pelvic floor and cause it to weaken. Many women don’t understand the impact that a weakened pelvic floor can have on them, even long after the baby is born.  Seeing a physical therapist specially trained in women’s health soon after childbirth can be very helpful, as they can ensure that you are healing properly and learning how to correctly (and safely) get your pelvic floor back into shape.  If left untreated, a weakened pelvic floor can lead to things like incontinence and even pelvic organ prolapse later in life, so this simple step can go a long way in protecting yourself for the future.  Learn more about how a physical therapist can help you here.

Tip #5: Watch Your Diet

This may seem to echo Tip #1, but even if you are at an ideal weight, if you’re eating foods that irritate your bladder (and if you’re susceptible to incontinence) then you may be setting yourself up for leaks.  There are many common bladder irritants (see a list of some of them here) but they can vary from person to person: what irritates one person may not bother another. If you do experience leaks, pay close attention to your diet and take note of foods that may be triggering leaks.