NAFC's Getting Started Guide For Managing Incontinence

 NAFC's Step By Step Guide To Managing Incontinence

NAFC's Step By Step Guide To Managing Incontinence

If you’re new to this whole incontinence game, you may wonder how on earth you’re going to manage. Preventing leaks, keeping things clean, and navigating the isles of adult absorbent products at the grocery store are all probably top of mind right now, and rightly so. These are often the first steps people take when trying to manage bladder leaks.

But what comes next? And how do you even begin to tackle those items we just listed above?

We have you covered. NAFC has dedicated a whole section of our website to just getting started (which, to be honest, is often the hardest part). We’ve outlined the things you should do before you even make your first appointment to see your doctor (which you should do anyway, even if you complete all the steps we outline in our Getting Started Guide). 

 Getting Started Guide For Managing Incontinence

 

This guide covers the basic steps, from how to keep a bladder diary, finding the right absorbent product, practicing pelvic floor strengthening moves, retraining your bladder or bowel, and a look at the vast array of options you have available to you for managing incontinence.

So take a look around, and start implementing some of these tips!  Begin with the first step:  finding an immediate way to manage your condition with absorbent products.   Then move on to the other helpful tips.

NAFC's Learning Library Can Help You Better Understand Your Bladder And Bowel Condition

 Discover videos and tips to help you learn how to manage incontinence.

Ever tried to learn about a complicated condition? It may seem like bladder and bowel problems are simple, but sometimes you need a little help understanding how things work, how to manage certain conditions, and the steps to take to avoid them.

That’s where the NAFC Learning Library comes in. Need some help knowing how to manage Overactive Bladder? We’ve got it. Want some tips on how to prevent bedwetting? Check out our video on that. Want to better understand nocturia, or learn how to insert a catheter? Want to learn more about kegels, or how to care for a pessary? We can help!

We’ve got the videos you need to help you along in your journey toward a Life Without Leaks.  Our collection of educational videos is growing all the time. Check out the NAFC Learning Library to better understand your condition and find ways to treat it.

Patient Perspective: Sally's Story

 Sally's Story - Running and working out when you have incontinence

Once both my kids were in elementary school full time, I finally started working out. I became a runner, and devoted most mornings after they were in school to jogging through the neighborhood. I entered races and started doing small 5Ks, until I finally worked my way up to a full marathon last year. Things were going great and I was feeling strong and happy.

So, imagine my surprise, after years of being an avid runner, to suddenly start experiencing bladder leaks. My kids were not little anymore – they were both in high school at this point and I thought that I bypassed this type of problem that usually accompanies childbirth.

I spoke to my doctor, and found out that, to my surprise, this problem often accompanies serious runners too. Turns out that pounding the pavement every day isn’t so great for your pelvic floor. In fact, my doctor told me that up to 30% of female runners experience incontinence while running.

My doctor said there are lots of things that can weaken the pelvic floor over the years; childbirth, age, and surgeries can all take their toll (I unfortunately check all three boxes). Add to that running several miles per week, and I saw how my activity was contributing to the problem. 

I wasn't ready to give up running, and luckily my doctor didn't think I had to. While there are many therapies available (medication, surgery, exercise), he started me on a regimen of kegel exercises. I do them first thing in the morning, and 3 other times throughout the day.  He also recommended that I try some other behavioral tactics: limit my fluid intake right before my run, make sure to empty my bladder before running, and try planning a route that has some bathroom stops along the way. 

These changes have been helping me a lot and while there might come a time that I consider something like surgery, for now, it helps to know that I’m able to take matters into my own hands and manage my bladder leaks without stopping the activities I love. 

I'm glad I opened up about this condition and can continue my passion!

Sally S., Atlanta, GA

Ask The Expert: What's The Difference Between IBS And Crohn's Disease?

 What's The Difference Between IBS and Crohns Disease

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: What’s the difference between IBS and Crohn’s Disease? Could I have both?

Answer: While both of these conditions seem to have similar symptoms, they are in fact different, and, yes, it is possible for someone to have both at the same time. Here’s a quick breakdown of the two:

Crohn’s Disease is a chronic, inflammatory bowel disease that affects parts of the digestive tract. Symptoms often include diarrhea, a frequent need to move your bowels, stomach pain, and bloating (all symptoms of IBS). However, with Crohn’s disease, patients also may notice things like vomiting, tiredness, weight loss, fever, or even bleeding.  It’s not certain what causes Crohn’s disease, but most experts believe it is an abnormality in the immune system that can trigger the condition. Chron’s disease is also more common in those with a family history of the disease.

IBS (also called “spastic colon”) carries similar symptoms to Crohn’s disease – cue the diarrhea, frequent trips to the bathroom, and stomach pain.  However, treatment for Crohn’s disease and IBS are different so it pays to be examined for both so that you understand what is causing your symptoms and you can treat it appropriately.  Testing for both conditions can be done with a physical exam, blood test, and usually a colonoscopy or other type of endoscopy procedure.

If you experience any symptoms related to IBS or Crohn’s disease, make an appointment with your doctor today to get tested.

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!

NAFC's Review Of 3 Popular Kegel Apps

 NAFC's Review of 3 Popular Kegel Apps

NAFC's Review of 3 Popular Kegel Apps

You’ve probably heard that kegel exercises are important for your pelvic floor health. This is true – strong pelvic floor muscles can help you keep control of your bladder so you’re not leaking when you sneeze or laugh, and a toned pelvic floor can even improve your sex life!  But when it comes to doing them, well, they’re easy to dismiss or forget.

That’s where an app comes in handy. There’s an app for everything these days, it seems, and kegel exercises are no exception. And while we always advocate getting a proper examination of your pelvic floor prior to beginning any work out program (especially if you are experiencing problems in that area), these apps can do wonders in teaching you how to do the moves that strengthen and relax your pelvic floor, in addition to just reminding you to do the exercises in the first place.

We reviewed three popular apps for increasing pelvic floor health. Read our takeaways below!

Kegel Trainer – Exercises

This is the most basic trainer of the three we tested, with all of the exercises focused on kegels exclusively. The sessions are between 30 to 3:00 minutes each, and are appropriate for men and women. The app is free to download, but to get past the second level or gain access to additional features, you’ll need to pay up to $5.49, depending on what you want to access.  If you’re looking for a very simple app that gives you daily reminders to do your kegels, this works well. But we wish it had a bit more in the way of education on how to do a kegel, and a greater variety of pelvic floor exercises.

Download the app: Google Play, iTunes

Squeezy

NHS Pelvic Floor App: At $3.99, this app is a bit pricy, but the simple interface, and the fact that it was designed by physiotherapists specializing in Women’s Health make it well worth it.  The app comes with customizable exercise plans, reminders to do your exercises, and a “professional mode” which allows your physical therapist to help create a detailed plan for you. Visual and audio guides help ensure that you’re doing the exercises correctly, and you’re able to track and monitor your progress over time. This is a great app for anyone looking to improve problems related to bladder, bowel, or pelvic floor muscles and is an excellent compliment to physical therapy programs.

Download the app: Google Play, iTunes

Pelvic Floor First

Developed by the Continence Foundation of Australia, this app is all encompassing and provides you with a complete workout regimen for getting your pelvic floor and core in shape. It’s great for women experiencing leaks, overactive bladder, women with prolapse, or women experiencing painful sex or pelvic pain. We love that this app gives a good overview of how the muscles work, and a visual of your anatomy so that you can actual see how the pelvic muscles are connected and what they support.  The video & audio guides for each move are very helpful, and we love that the focus is not just on kegels, but building strength throughout the core, which is critical to having a strong pelvic floor.  Workout moves are separated into three categories from beginner to advanced, and in total last from 30-50 minutes. But, you can also choose to view individual exercise moves and save them to form your own custom workouts if you choose. The app also has a share option, which is nice if you’d like to work with your physical therapist on monitoring your workouts. This is a great overall app for working your pelvic floor.  And best of all, it’s FREE!

Download the app: Google Play, iTunes

As always, we recommend that you consult with a physical therapist prior to starting a pelvic floor exercise program, especially if you are experiencing any types of bladder, bowel or pelvic floor issues.  Sometimes these issues may be caused by a pelvic floor that is too tight, and doing certain exercises, such as kegels, may exacerbate those issues.  A physical therapist can give you a thorough evaluation and recommend a plan that works best for you.

How To Relax Your Pelvic Floor

 How To Relax Your Pelvic Floor

What Is The Pelvic Floor And Why Should I Relax It?

The pelvic floor is a web of muscles that acts as a sling, supporting your bladder, bowel and uterus. It is responsible for helping you control your bladder and bowel, and also plays a role in sexual intercourse. Many women experience pelvic floor issues, such as incontinence, as a result of childbirth, obesity, chronic constipation, or other strains put on the pelvic floor. Often, a weakening of the pelvic floor causes these issues, but did you know that having a pelvic floor that is too tense can also create problems? Incontinence, trouble emptying your bladder, and even pain during sex can be signs of a pelvic floor that is too tense.

Luckily, pelvic floor tension is a problem that you can do something about. Below are some simple exercises that may help you to relax your pelvic floor muscles. These can all be done in your home, discretely, and with no equipment necessary.

Note: It is always recommended to consult a pelvic floor physical therapist prior to performing exercises related to the pelvic floor. A physical therapist can provide you with a proper diagnosis and put you on custom treatment plan just for you! Find a physical therapist in your area here!

Diaphragmatic Breathing For Pelvic Floor Relaxation:

The diaphragm works in synergy with the pelvic floor and helps to promote muscle relaxation. This is important for decreasing pain and promoting optimal muscle function.

  1. Place one hand on your chest and another hand on your belly, just below your rib cage.
  2. Take a deep breath in to the count of three, and then exhale to the count of four.
  3. When you inhale, your pelvic floor relaxes, and as you exhale, your pelvic floor returns to its resting state.
  4. Practice this breathing for 5-10 minutes each day.

Note: You’ll know that you are using your diaphragm correctly if you feel the hand on your belly rise and fall.

Pelvic Girdle Stretches For Pelvic Floor Relaxation

All of the following positions are great for practicing diaphragmatic breathing!

Happy Baby Pose:

  1. Lie on your back.
  2. Open your knees wider than your chest and bring them up towards your armpits. You may hold your legs with your arms behind your knees or at your ankles, but try to keep your ankles over your knees.
  3. You can either hold this position or gently rock on your back from side to side
 Happy Baby Pose

Happy Baby Pose

 Child's Pose

Child's Pose

Child’s Pose:

  1. Start on your hands and knees.
  2. Spread your knees wide apart while keeping your big toes touching.
  3. Gently bow forward, moving your torso downwards, between your thighs. Keep your arms stretched out long and in front of you.

Adductor Stretching:

 Aductor Stretch

Aductor Stretch

  1. Lie on your back with the soles of your feet together and knees out to the sides.
  2. This should be a relaxing position. If you feel a pulling along your inner thighs or in your pubic bones, place pillows under your knees for support.
 Piriformis Stretch

Piriformis Stretch

Piriformis Stretching:

  1. Lie on your back with your knees bent.
  2. Place your left ankle on your right knee, like a figure four.
  3. Pull your right thigh toward your chest to feel a stretch on the outside of your left hip.
  4. Hold for 30 seconds, and then repeat on the other side.

Patient Perspective: How Acknowledging My Pelvic Floor Changed My Life

 How Acknowledging My Pelvic Floor Changed My Life. Pelvic Strengthening

I’ve experienced bladder leaks for about 5 years. After I had my second daughter, I started noticing leakage here and there. I always assumed it would go away, but it never did. I spent the first year attributing it all to childbirth, and let’s be honest, I didn’t really have the time to worry about myself much with a newborn baby. But, after my daughter’s first year, what I thought was a problem that would clear up on it’s own continued, and I began to take more notice. The leaks were more frequent, not less, and I started to feel ashamed about it. I’d never heard any of my friends talking about this side effect of motherhood – why was it happening to me?

I finally decided to visit my OB/Gyn to see what he recommended and he referred me to a Physical Therapist who solely focuses on the pelvic floor (yes! there really is such a thing!). The PT did a thorough evaluation and said the cause of my problem was due to a weakened pelvic floor that most likely occurred during childbirth.

I’ve never been what you would call athletic. I have a gym membership but don’t visit all that often. I sit at work all day, and get most of my exercise running around after my two girls. And God knows I could stand to lose a bit more of the baby weight.  So when my PT said that she was going to put me on a workout program to get things back in shape, I was a bit worried. But her workout was low intensity – lots of walking to get my weight down (which would help put less pressure on my bladder and pelvic floor) and simple exercises that would strengthen not just my pelvic floor, but my core muscles too.

After 3 months of doing the workout I had lost about 8 pounds and my stomach and glut muscles were noticeably more toned. I also was noticing much fewer leaks and was able to control my bladder much better than before. And after 6 months of performing the workout, the leaks had stopped all together.

I can’t tell you what a difference this simple workout routine has made in my life – not only do I feel stronger and more in control, but it’s given me more confidence in the ability to change my body both in look and in function. I’m so proud of myself and my only regret is that I didn’t do something sooner. Ladies – if you’re experiencing bladder leaks, visit a PT and get on a workout program! It will literally change your life. It did for me!

Kimberly V., Englewood, CO

Ask The Expert: Should Men Do Kegels?

 Should Men Do Kegels?

Question: I hear about kegels for women all the time, but what about men? Can kegels benefit men too?

Expert Answer: Absolutely!  Kegels are an important part of a woman’s workout routine to prevent or manage bladder leaks, but they are just as important for men. In men, kegels can help with fecal incontinence, overactive bladder, urinary retention, erectile functioning and even orgasms.  Interested in seeing the benefits for yourself? Here’s how to do them:

How To Do Kegels For Men

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

Long Contractions.  

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

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

Short Contractions.  

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

When Should I Perform Them?

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

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

Good luck!

What Is The Pelvic Floor? (And Why Should I Care?)

 What Is The Pelvic Floor and Why Should I Care?

If you’ve never thought much about your pelvic floor, you’re not alone. Most people don’t give this section of the body much consideration until it’s too late – they become incontinent, or worse, suffer a pelvic organ prolapse as a result of pregnancy, obesity or chronic constipation. But the pelvic floor is one of the most important muscles in the body, and ignoring it can have potentially great consequences later in life.

Anatomy

Let’s begin with a little bit of anatomy. The pelvic floor is a basket of muscles that supports some pretty major organs – your bladder, rectum and uterus in women, and your bladder, rectum and prostate in men, to be exact.  The muscles stretch across the pubic area from front to back and from side to side. They are typically very firm and thick, but are also flexible and are able to move up and down (kind of like a trampoline).

These muscles are very important in supporting the organs listed above, and are essential in maintaining control over our bladder and bowel. The pelvic floor muscles also play a large role in sexual function for men and women, and provide support for the baby during pregnancy. 

Over the course of our life, many things can compromise the stability of the pelvic floor, leading to things like incontinence, or pelvic organ prolapse. Obesity, childbirth, chronic coughing, chronic constipation, or other things that put strain on the pelvic floor can cause it to weaken. And with age there is often a weakening of the connective tissues of the pelvic floor.

What You Can Do To Protect The Pelvic Floor

The good news is that much like the other muscles in the body, the pelvic floor can be trained and strengthened over time.  By learning to strengthen the pelvic floor, you may be able to prevent or even eliminate symptoms of incontinence or prolapse.

Read: 4 Moves to Help You Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor Before You Get Pregnant

There are many exercises you can do to strengthen the pelvic floor. Kegels are great at isolating the pelvic floor muscles, but because the pelvic floor connects to many of the muscles that create your “core” (your diaphragm, transversus abdonminis, and multifidus), you also need to incorporate workouts that build strength in those areas as well. And remember – it’s not just about tightening. We need to ensure that our muscles are neither too tight, nor too loose. Learning how to relax the pelvic floor is just as important as learning how to strengthen it, since a pelvic floor that is too tight can create weakness and cause problems too. Like any other muscle in the body, we are looking for our muscles to be strong and flexible. 

Symptoms Of Pelvic Floor Tension

  • Constipation
  • Painful intercourse
  • Pelvic Pain
  • Inability to empty your bladder completely
  • Painful urination

If you experience these symptoms, we recommend that you see a pelvic floor physical therapist prior to starting any strengthening program. Performing strengthening exercises on a pelvic floor that is already too tight can create additional problems, or make any existing issues worse.

Symptoms Of Pelvic Floor Weakness

Learning how to strengthen, and relax the pelvic muscles can help with pelvic floor weakness.

Want tips on how to improve your pelvic floor strength? Check out these great resources:

Incorporating Pelvic Floor Exercises Into Your General Workout Routine – 3 Best Moves To Add Now.

It’s All About The Base

Ask The Expert: Can Pelvic Floor Exercises Really Help My OAB Symptoms?

Men And Kegels – The Ultimate Guide

Note: If you are experiencing symptoms of either pelvic floor weakness or tension, we strongly advise you to see a physical therapist specialized in pelvic floor therapy. A physical therapist can help provide you with a diagnosis and put you on a custom treatment program specific to your needs.

Why A Healthy Pelvic Floor Is Important

 Why A Healthy Pelvic Floor Is Important

Why A Healthy Pelvic Floor Is Important

Why The Pelvic Floor Is Important

If you follow along with NAFC on a regular basis, you know how much importance we place on maintaining a strong and healthy pelvic floor. It’s a vital part of maintaining continence, alleviating symptoms of pelvic organ prolapse, and even reducing lower back pain. And don’t get us started on the benefits a strong pelvic floor has on sexual intercourse. It’s no wonder we focus so much on this magic group of muscles!

The pelvic floor is essentially a web of muscles that acts kind of like a basket holding up some pretty vital organs: the bladder, bowel and uterus.  When these muscles become weakened – from things like childbirth, heavy lifting, chronic coughing; basically anything that puts a lot of pressure on it - it can cause a loss of bladder or bowel control and can increase the risk of prolapse.  Weak pelvic floor muscles can also put strain on other muscles (the pelvic floor is connected to many other muscles in the body!) causing them to work overtime to make up for the lack of support in the pelvic floor. This imbalance can cause pain in other areas of the body too (lower back pain or hip pain for instance).

For these reasons, it’s important to make sure you’re incorporating pelvic floor and core exercises into your workouts each day. And don’t worry – the workouts don’t have to be long or strenuous. But just like every other muscle in the body, they need attention in order to maintain the strength needed to function properly. 

So, how do you get a strong pelvic floor? Some simple, daily exercises are all you need. We’ve teamed up with the folks at Carin to help you get started. Read below for information to how NAFC readers can get a free Carin Wearable Set

What is Carin?

Carin’s smart underwear is a new way to not only measure and manage leaks, but also to improve your pelvic floor strength so that you can get on with your life and eliminate those pesky leaks all together. It’s the only wearable pelvic floor exerciser on the market – painless, noninvasive, and high-tech. 

 Carin Smart Underwear Set

Carin Smart Underwear Set

What’s Included in the Carin Smart Underwear Set?

Carin comes complete with a unique pair of highly absorbent underwear that can manage any leaks you may have. The set also comes with a sensor that snaps in the underwear, detects your body movement and monitors leakage. Finally, the Carin app helps you track your leaks and also sets you up on a daily workout plan to help you get stronger and manage leaks.

 Carin Sensor

Carin Sensor

 Carin App

Carin App

How Does It Work?

The Carin exercise program contains two parts: a weekly measuring routine and a daily exercise routine. The Carin smart underwear is worn for at least 24 hrs. with the sensor snapped in. This is the ‘measuring day’. The sensor will detect the body’s movements and track any leakage that might occur. Based on leakage, the app will then begin to recommend specific exercise routines to help you strengthen your pelvic floor in an effort to reduce leaks. There is a weekly plan of video exercises ready for you to do for 10 minutes each day. 

After the second time of wearing the smart underwear, an intelligent algorithm calculates progress made within the Carin app. The app shows the impact of exercise by counting the reduction of leaks.  80% of women using Carin have reported seeing progress between 20% to 100% in as little as 4 weeks!

 


See Carin In Action

Want a sneak peak of what to expect with Carin? Watch the video below!

A Caregivers Guide To Keeping The Bed Dry

 A Caregivers Guide To Keeping The Bed Dry

A Caregivers Guide To Keeping The Bed Dry

One of the most challenging things about being a caregiver to someone who has incontinence can be the mornings. Waking up each day to your loved one’s wet bed can be both physically and emotionally draining. No one likes to wash and change sheets each day, and knowing the discomfort (and likely embarrassment) that your loved one feels can be disheartening.  In fact, incontinence is often a big reason that older adults are placed into long-term care facilities.

The key to managing this problem is prevention. Having the right tools at your disposal will do wonders to help keep the bed dry and your loved one comfortable.  And remember, layers are your friend. They will help keep any leaks to a minimum and make clean up so much easier.

Here are some of our top tricks for keeping the bed dry and making your life a little easier.

  1. Zippered, Vinyl Waterproof Mattress Cover. This should go on the bed first and will help keep any moisture from getting on the mattress. After all, replacing a mattress is expensive, and getting lingering odors out of them is very hard. If you do nothing else, do this.
  2. Waterproof Mattress Pad. Use this as a second layer – it’s a softer, but still waterproof cover that will go over your vinyl cover.
  3. Waterproof Flat Sheet.  
  4.  Waterproof Underpad. You can use these both under, and on top of a flat sheet if you wish, and they can be disposable or washable. We recommend putting a large, sturdy, washable pad on the flat sheet, then topping that with a disposable pad that you can simply toss in the trash when needed.
  5. Use Layers Of Blankets Instead Of A Thick Comforter. These are easier to wash in the event of an accident.
  6. Disposable Absorbent Products. A good fitting disposable absorbent product is key. Find one for nighttime use (they’re more absorbent) and make sure the fit is good – you don’t want anything too tight or too lose, as it will lead to leaks. For a breakdown on what to look for, see our guide on absorbent products here.
  7. Skincare Protection. While this won’t protect your bedding, it will protect your loved one. Proper skincare protection can help keep skin from getting irritated or chapped due to accidents that happen during the night. 

Try these tips for a drier night, and happier morning. 

What tips do you have for a dry night? Share them with us in the comments below!

3 Reasons You Should Use A Mail Order Service When Ordering Incontinence Supplies

 3 Reasons You Should Use A Mail Order Service When Ordering Incontinence Supplies

3 Reasons You Should Use A Mail Order Service When Ordering Incontinence Supplies

If you live with bladder leakage or care for someone who does, then you’ve been there. Walking into a grocery store or supermarket, standing in the incontinence aisle, completely overwhelmed by the number of options to choose from. “Which brand is the best? What style should I try? How do I know this product will work?”, you may be wondering.  And then, when you finally make your choice, you stand in the check out lane, wondering who is watching, and what the clerk is thinking as you complete your purchase. 

It can be emotionally overwhelming. That’s why NAFC highly advocates for using a mail order service for incontinence supplies. Read below for our top 3 reasons.

Top 3 Reasons To Use A Mail Order Service When Ordering Incontinence Supplies

More options. 

Let’s face it – even though it may seem like you’re looking at a wall of incontinence supplies when you shop, your local drugstore only has so much space. When it comes to number of options, a mail order supply company can’t be beat. They have warehouses full of different brands – many of which you may not have heard of before (but may be just what you need!). Many mail supply companies also offer sampler kits, which allow you to try out several types of products or brands without having to invest in full packages of something you aren’t sure will work for you yet. Simply put, you won’t get a wider array of product options anywhere else.

It’s Discreet.

No perusing the products in the middle of the store. No one to see you checking out at the register. Mail order is discreet. Products arrive directly to your door, usually in non-descript packaging, ensuring that your privacy is kept in tact.

You can get help from someone who knows what they’re talking about.

This may be one of the biggest benefits to using a mail order service. A trained professional is usually available to walk through your symptoms, how you’ll use the product, and your preferences, to help you choose a product that is just right for you. They know the features of the products, have heard first hand how they work for their customers, and can be invaluable when trying to decide which product will work best for your needs. You won’t get that level of service at your local grocery store.

So how do you find a mail order service? Here are two that we highly recommend.  Check them out and make your first order today.

Home Delivery Incontinence Supply (HDIS)

Live Anew

Ask The Expert: How Do I Keep Myself Odor Free When I Have Incontinence?

 How Do I Keep Myself Odor Free When I Have Incontinence?

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 live with incontinence and am often concerned about others noticing a certain “smell” about me. How do I ensure that my incontinence problem lead to an odor problem?

Answer: Many people with incontinence often worry about this issue. But, it’s an easy one to solve as long as you’re diligent in following a few simple steps.

1. Change often.

If you wear absorbent pads, make sure you change them often to avoid smell. Fit and type of product is also important – a close fitting product will hold odors better than something that fits too loosely, and some products have odor-reducing materials built in, which can help prevent smells. In addition, stool or urine get onto your bedding or clothing, wash them right away, or place them in an airtight container until you are able to wash them to prevent odors from making their way throughout your house. If you’re on the go, pack a disposable plastic ziplock bag to store any soiled clothing due to leaks.

2. Drink plenty of fluids.

While many people with incontinence may try to limit their fluids, you should never do so to the limit that you become dehydrated. Drinking too little fluid throughout the day makes your urine more concentrated, and more likely to smell. The general guidance is 6-8 glasses a day. You’ll know if you’re drinking enough water by the color of your urine – clear urine with almost no color (and hardly any smell) is a good sign your staying hydrated – if your urine is a concentrated yellow, it could be a sign you need to drink a bit more.

3. Be diligent about hygiene.

It’s essential that you wash daily and clean yourself well after any accidents and after each pad or application change with a gentle cleanser.  If your skin becomes irritated, you can use a moisturizer or a protective ointment. The best line of defense against odor is ensuring that skin is kept clean and absorbent products are frequently changed or washed.

Read about more tips to stay clean and odor free! 

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!

The 3 Most Important Things To Consider When Choosing An Adult Absorbent Product

 The Top 3 Most Important Things To Consider When Choosing An Adult Absorbent Product

Finding the right protection for bladder leaks – for yourself, or for someone you care for – can be daunting. There are so many choices – how do you know what will work best?

When thinking about absorbent products, and ultimately, deciding on one to buy, think hard about these three things – they are the most important factors when deciding on an absorbent product.

Top 3 Things To Consider In An Adult Absorbent Product

Form.

Think about how you’ll be using this product, and what matters most to you or your loved one in terms of comfort and ease. Are you very mobile? If so, pads or absorbent briefs may work well. Are you caring for someone confined mostly to a bed, or chair, then a product with tabs may be a better option for easier removal. Consider your lifestyle and make choice that will be conducive to how you live.

Fit.

Out of all the things to consider, this is probably the most important. Finding the right fit should be your top priority since getting something too loose or too tight can lead to leaks. Different products have different sizing options so try them out and make sure that the fit feels good.

Function. 

Think about your individual leakage when deciding on an absorbent product. Do you leak mostly at night, or during the day? Do you leak large amounts of urine or just a little bit? Is your leakage problem frequent, or is it just occasional. All of these answers can weigh in to the absorbency level of the product you choose, and many manufactures make specific products for each scenario. Think about your patterns and choose accordingly.

Don’t be afraid to consult a physician, or to call an online retailer, such as Live Anew or HDIS. They have product specialists that can help you find the perfect product by asking you questions about your specific.

Your Guide To Personal Lubricants

 Your Guide To Personal Lubricants

Sex is a great way to connect with your partner. But as our bodies change, certain conditions can make sex more challenging than it used to be.  For those with pelvic floor issues, it’s common to also see a reduction in natural lubrication. And as women enter menopause, the decrease in estrogen levels can reduce the amount of moisture available, and can make the vaginal wall thinner and less elastic. And even if you aren’t yet experiencing menopause, common occurrences such as stress, lack of sleep, or other medical conditions can often lead to vaginal dryness.

Vaginal dryness can cause discomfort on it’s own, but it can wreak havoc on your sex life, making it painful and uncomfortable. Lucky for us there are a plethora of choices for personal lubrication that will have you back on track in no time. If you experience any dryness during sex, try using lubrication to help remove the unwanted friction and make sex more enjoyable for both you and your partner. 

Popular Types Of Personal Lubricants

Water-based lubricants  

This is the most natural feeling lubricant and one of the most poplar. Note that a water-based lubricant will dry out faster than other forms and you may need to reapply it during sex.

Silicone-based lubricants 

Silicone lubricants are a bit slicker than water-based ones, and they may be used in water. They also last a bit longer than water-based lubricants so you won’t need to apply them as often. Avoid using silicone-based lubricants with silicone sex toys though, as it can deteriorate softer silicone sex toys due to how the molecules interact with other silicone products.

Hybrid lubricants  

Hybrids are a blend of water-based and silicone-based lubricants. They provide the feeling usually associated with a water-based product, but they won’t dry out quite as quickly. Note: because these are typically 90% water-based, they won’t work well in water.

Oil-based lubricants 

Oil-based lubricants – including petroleum jelly – are the least commonly used. Coconut or VitE oil are good daily options to use for general vaginal dryness. However, oil-based lubricants should never be used with condoms, latex, diaphragms, or rubber, since the oil will weaken these materials and may cause them to be ineffective.

Everyone’s preference is different and what may work great for one person may not be the best choice for you. Don’t be afraid to try out different types of lube to find one that you like best. 

The Best Bathroom Locator Apps

 The Best Bathroom Finder Apps

The Best Bathroom Finder Apps

We’ve all been there – you’re out and about and the sudden urge to go to the bathroom strikes out of nowhere. You race to find a bathroom, praying to make it in time (and praying that the conditions of the facility are acceptable). This scenario is no fun at all. But luckily, there are some clever apps out there that make finding a bathroom a little easier, and give you more confidence when traveling, running errands, or socializing with friends and family.

Here’s our roundup of the 4 best Bathroom Finders available now.

(All are available on IOS and Android platforms.)

SIT OR SQUAT:

Sit Or Squat was developed by Charmin to help you find a public restroom near you, wherever you may be (even traveling outside the US). Boasting 100,000 listings, this app has you covered, and is easy and free to use. Sit or Squat allows you to view bathrooms in list or map view, and lets you filter locations for things like ‘handicap accessible’, or ‘baby changing table’. It also lets you rate bathrooms by cleanliness (a  “Sit” rating indicates a clean bathroom while a “Squat” rating indicates a bathroom with less desirable conditions.) All in all, this is a great app with an easy to use interface.

Download the app: Google Play, iTunes

GOT TO GO RESTROOM FINDER

The Got TO Go Restroom Finder App is free to download and operates only in North America, and lists restrooms as a map or list view.  Users are able to filter views by which locations are open near them, and the type of location it is (gas station, restaurant, retail store, or government/public building). You can also see cleanliness ratings, rate the bathroom yourself, or add new bathrooms to the app.

Download the app: Google PlayiTunes

BATHROOM SCOUT

Bathroom Scout has over 1,800,000 bathrooms listed worldwide, including public toilets, or restrooms in restaurants and other facilities. The service offers turn by turn directions to bathrooms near you, the ability to see a Google Street View of the location (if images are available), and the ability to rate the condition of the bathrooms.  The free version contains ads, but the paid pro version also offers a satellite view, no ads, and a waterfall sound for when you need a bit of sound cover when using a public restroom.

Download the app: Google PlayiTunes

FLUSH

Flush operates worldwide with 190,000 restrooms stored in it’s free app. Like others listed here, you can see restrooms by both map and list view and get directions to nearby toilets. Flush also lets you filter bathrooms by “disabled access, “requires key”, and “requires fee”.  Another great feature is that the app works even when you don’t have an internet connection, allowing you to find a bathroom in an emergency even when cell service is spotty.

Download the app: Google Play, iTunes

Keep in mind that these apps are only updated when users add new information, such as new locations, information, or ratings. So they likely wont have every available toilet listed, and you may not know all the details on cleanliness or other features if users have not rated it.  But, in a pinch, it can be nice to have one of these apps handy to help you out. And, if you add your own finds in places that you visit frequently, it can serve as a helpful tool for you day-to-day when you’re out and about in your community.

Do you know of any other helpful apps you think might benefit our readers? Share them in the comments below!

Don't Quit Exercising Because Of Urinary Incontinence

 Working Out With Incontinence

Living with incontinence can pose many challenges. The condition can cause you to limit the life you once had - foregoing social events, distancing yourself from family and friends, and even missing days of work. So, it comes as no surprise that your workouts may also be affected. In fact, studies have shown that up to 20% of women have reported quitting their physical activities due to incontinence. Experiencing leakage when running or doing certain types of exercise is very common, but it’s not normal. You shouldn’t have to live with incontinence, and the good news is you don’t have to.

Why do I leak urine during my workouts?

Bladder leakage during your workout is due to a condition called Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI).  SUI is incontinence that occurs when you have a weak pelvic floor or sphincter muscle, and increased pressure is placed on your bladder. This can happen with things like sneezing, coughing, and, yes, certain forms of working out.

SUI occurs commonly with childbirth, but other conditions can also contribute to the condition. Chronic coughing, surgical procedures, menopause, and obesity can also contribute to SUI.

How To Manage Bladder Leakage During Exercise

The tips listed below can help you manage and treat the issue of bladder leaks. As always, when thinking about treatment options, it’s best to consult a trained physical therapist that can give you a proper examination. 

1. Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor.         

A weak pelvic floor can make you more susceptible to SUI. To learn how to strengthen it, make an appointment with a physical therapist who will teach you not only how to correctly perform a kegel, but also how to strengthen your whole core. You see, while the pelvic floor is important, it’s only one part of the equation. Your core muscles, hips, thighs, and glutes all play a part of maintaining proper alignment so it’s important to include these muscles in your daily workouts too.

Your PT will also teach you how to properly relax your pelvic floor. Pelvic floor muscles that are too tight can also be an issue with SUI, so you must learn to relax these muscles as well.

2.  Use a Pessary.

SUI often occurs in women who have experienced Pelvic Organ Prolapse. A pessary can be a great tool for this condition, especially when working out, since it helps hold everything in place, resulting in less pressure on your bladder.

3. Use Protection.

It goes without saying that if you’re experiencing leaks and want to continue to work out, you may need a little extra help. There are several absorbent products available that are designed specifically for working out. Experiment with different styles and fits to see what works for you.

4. Go Easy On The Fluids.

You should make sure you stay properly hydrated, but try limiting the amount of caffeinated beverages you’re drinking, especially before your workout. Caffeine can irritate the bladder making accidents more likely.

5. Watch What You Eat.

Similar to caffeine, certain foods can cause bladder irritation in some people. Spicy or acidic foods are especially common bladder irritants and should be avoided.

6. Empty Your Bladder Before Starting Your Workout.

Make sure to use the bathroom just before any strenuous workout, like running to avoid extra strain on your bladder.

7. Try Retraining Your Bladder

Just like any muscle in the body, your bladder can be trained. Try scheduling your bathroom visits in intervals and slowly work up to longer stretches of time.

8. Wear Black Pants.

This is a simple trick, but can help you prevent (or at least cover up) any embarrassing leaks. The color black can help hide any leaks. Loose fitting clothing can also help hide any extra protection that you may be using to prevent leakage.

As you can see, there are several options for managing urine leakage while exercising. Try incorporating some of the above tips and don’t let incontinence keep you from getting your work out! 

Have you tried any of the tips above, or do you have others you’d like to share? Tell us about them in the comments below!

How To Start A Walking Group

 How To Start A Walking Group

How To Start A Walking Group

Maintaining a healthy weight is an important part of any health plan. It not only makes you look and feel better, but it can ward off other conditions such as diabetes, and incontinence. But, staying active can sometimes be easier said than done. Sometimes you just don’t feel like getting to the gym or working out on your own. That’s why we love the idea of starting your own walking group. A walking group is great because members can help keep you accountable for your activity, motivate you to succeed and push you beyond your normal limits. Plus, working out is always more fun if you have a buddy or a community to support you. So lace up your sneakers and check out our tips for getting your own group together!

5 Tips For Starting A Walking Group

1. Round up your squad!

Start by pulling together friends, family members, and co-workers who would like to join the group. If you need more members, try putting up a flyer in your gym, senior center, or library. 

2. Organize a kick-off meeting.  

Work together to decide on the goals of the group, and set some guidelines.  Here are some important things to consider:

  • When will you meet?
  • How often?
  • Will you walk when the weather is colder/raining/snowing?
  • Will you divide into smaller groups or all walk together?
  • How will you contact each other? Through email? A phone tree?

3. Set some goals.

Encourage members to set and share some personal goals to help keep everyone motivated. You may also choose to set a group goal, like walking x number of days a year, completing x number of steps, etc. Goals are a great way to make the group feel more cohesive and helps everyone keep at it (even when they may not feel like it!)

4. Start walking.

Walking is such a great workout because it’s free and easy to do. Set your date for your first walk and remind people to dress appropriately and for the weather.

5. Stay motivated.

Celebrate your successes! Have periodic dinners or coffee dates when you reach milestones as a group and encourage each other to keep going. Invite fitness speakers to talk with your group and provide extra motivation! And make sure to mix it up! Explore new routes or trails periodically to keep it interesting.

If the idea of starting a new group doesn’t appeal to you, try joining one that already exists. Many gyms or YMCA’s offer these types of groups and they are easy to join.

Walking can be a great way to stay healthy at any age and forming a community to do it makes it fun.  Start your walking group today!

Have any other tips for starting a walking group? Leave them in the comments below!

Ask The Expert: How Do I Talk With My Husband About His Incontinence?

 How Do I Talk With My Husband About His Incontinence

Question:  My husband of 47 years has recently started experiencing incontinent episodes. He’s a very proud man and doesn’t want to admit them to me, but it’s starting to become a problem due to the increased laundry, smell and his overall depressed attitude about it. How can I get him to open up and talk with me about it?

 

Answer:  This is a common problem in marriages, especially pertaining to men. Most men don’t want to admit they have a problem with bladder control. They feel ashamed, and hate the idea of wearing protection. He may never come out and admit it to you on his own, so here are some tips to broach the subject with him:

1. Make him feel comfortable.

As you’ve already figured out, incontinence is a very uncomfortable subject for your husband. Make him feel at ease and approach him about his bladder leakage in a way that is not threatening or accusatory. Find some neutral territory and talk to him at a time when he feels good. Don’t try to broach this subject right after he’s had an accident.  That will only make him feel more embarrassed and ashamed.

2. Show him that you are understanding and want to help him with his bladder leakage.

Before you talk with him, do a little research on incontinence and learn what may be causing the issue. Did he just have prostate surgery? Is there something else that has changed recently that could be contributing to his accidents? Read about the causes, and the many different treatment options and management strategies for bladder leakage. Show him that there are ways to manage the condition and that he doesn’t have to just live with it. Let him know that you care about him and want to help. Show him that you are a team so that he doesn’t feel so alone.

3. Encourage him to seek treatment for his incontinence.

Incontinence can often be a symptom of an underlying condition. Let your husband know that you want him to talk with a doctor to make sure that there is nothing serious going on, and to help him get the problem under control. He may be resistant to speaking with his doctor, but press on (slowly). The sooner he confronts his incontinence with a professional, the sooner he can begin treatment and start feeling like himself again. (Find a specialist in your area with our Specialist Locator.)

4. Be his advocate for care.

Because your husband is so embarrassed about his incontinence, you may need to be his voice when seeking out treatment options. Help him research incontinence so that you both can learn more about it. Write out questions that he can bring with him to the doctors office to ensure he doesn’t forget anything important. Be sure to voice any concerns over treatment options. And help him stay the course on his path to treatment.

5. Introduce him to the NAFC message boards.

The NAFC message boards are a great place for your husband to explore and ask questions – anonymously! There are many people on the boards who may be experiencing the same things he is who he can talk to. Plus, with so many people dealing with incontinence in the same spot, there are lots of learnings and tips he may be able to pull from to help his own situation. (As an aside, the message boards may also be a great spot for you to do some research too.  Talk with other caregivers to get some ideas. Or ask other men living with incontinence how you might be able to best approach your husband about the topic.)

It’s never easy talking about incontinence to a loved one – especially men. But by being a caring and supportive spouse, you’ll show your husband that you are in his corner, and that you are there to help. Good luck!

Ask The Expert: How Do I Avoid Leaks When Visiting Loved Ones?

 How Do I Avoid Leaks When Visiting Loved Ones?

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 suffer from incontinence and will be visiting my daughter for 3 weeks this holiday season. I’m terrified I’ll have an accident at her house. Do you have any precautions I can take to avoid leaks and the accompanying embarrassment?

Answer: This is a common concern and is a great topic to discuss around the holidays. There are many things you can do to avoid leaks, as well as a few things you can have at the ready in case a leak does happen at your loved one’s home.  

As always, preparation is key, and will help give you some peace of mind knowing that you have the proper products in place to prevent leaks. Be sure to bring plenty of supplies with you: absorbent products for day and night, extra changes of clothes (black is a great color choice since it goes with everything and hides leaks well), and extra medication, if you’re on it. After all, when traveling during the winter season, anything is possible and delayed or canceled flights can leave you unprepared – pack extras so that you have enough to last you for a few extra days just in case. If you have trouble at night, bring your own waterproof pad (or two) to protect the bedding. Don’t forget about any other supplies you may need – skin protectants or cleansers, detergents for doing a load of laundry, disposable plastic bags to hold used or wet products, and an odor neutralizing spray to hide any unwanted odors.

An extra bag can help you transport and hide your supplies, as well as serve as a place to store used products or clothes that you can dispose of when convenient for you.  And if you’re a woman, upgrade your purse to a tote bag that can hold extra supplies you may need when you’re out and about.

Finally, the holidays can be a time of indulgence, so watch what you’re eating and drinking. Skip the coffee and alcohol, limit spicy foods and sweets, and avoid any foods that you know irritate your bladder. 

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!