November Is National Bladder Health Awareness Month!

Each year, NAFC takes part in National Bladder Health Awareness Month. It’s a time to speak out about bladder health conditions, such as incontinence, and is a chance for us to urge everyone to take notice of their bladder health and do something to improve it.  Over 25 million Americans live with incontinence each day, but it’s a condition that too often get’s swept under the rug and left out of pertinent doctor/patient discussions due to embarrassment or acceptance. 

The truth is, this is a hard subject for most. Let’s face it; incontinence is not something most people want to talk about around the dinner table. In fact, most women wait at least 7 years before even speaking with a doctor about incontinence. 

People hide incontinence from their friends, family and even their significant other.  Incontinence limits people’s lives and how they interact with each other – fear of having an accident takes precedent over time with friends, family and even work.  It’s a taboo subject, but we believe we can change that. And you can help.

This month, take charge of your bladder health and incontinence by taking some actionable steps to manage your condition.

Start Managing Your Condition

Start by downloading our Getting Started Guide, a step-by-step manual designed to help you start managing incontinence even before visiting a doctor.   

Help Raise Awareness Within Your Immediate Circle Of Friends

If we all started speaking up a little more about incontinence, it wouldn’t be such a taboo issue.  Do your part to raise awareness of bladder health and incontinence by clicking the share links on each image and sharing these facts on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

“Visit nafc.org to learn management tips and tricks on how to have a happy, healthy bladder!

Visit NAFC.org To Learn More About How To Have A Happy Healthy Bladder! #BHealth

Learn the steps to take to manage your incontinence symptoms at nafc.org.

Exercise is good for your body, and your bladder. Learn more about how to improve incontinence symptoms with diet and exercise at nafc.org.

Exercise is good for your body, and your bladder. Learn more about how to improve incontinence symptoms with diet and exercise at nafc.org. #BHealth

Incontinence can be hard to deal with. But we can help. Learn more at nafc.org.

Need some help managing your incontinence, but don't know where to turn? Visit nafc.org to find a specialist in your area! #BHealth

Need some help managing your incontinence, but don't know where to turn? Visit nafc.org to find a specialist in your area! #BHealth

Many foods can irritate the bladder, including caffeine. Learn about other bladder irritants at nafc.org.

Learn the steps to take to manage your incontinence symptoms at nafc.org. #BHealth

Up To 45% Of Women Have Incontinence. And while it might be common, it's not normal. Learn more and get help at nafc.org.

Incontinence can be hard to deal with. But we can help. Learn more at nafc.org. #BHealth

Even when you have incontinence, it's important to stay hydrated. Learn more bladder health tips at nafc.org.

Many foods can irritate the bladder, including caffeine. Learn about other bladder irritants at nafc.org. #BHealth

Did you know that over 33 million Americans have Overactive Bladder? Learn more about it and how to treat it at nafc.org.

Up To 45% Of Women Have Incontinence. And while it might be common, it's not normal. Learn more and get help at nafc.org. #BHealth
Even when you have incontinence, it's important to stay hydrated. Learn more bladder health tips at nafc.org. #BHealth
Did you know that over 33 million Americans have Overactive Bladder? Learn more about it and how to treat it at nafc.org. #BHealth

Follow Along With Us This Month 

We’re shining a spotlight on Overactive Bladder and will be rolling out a new series of videos on the many ways to treat OAB.  Check in with us here on the BHealth Blog throughout the month to watch the videos and learn about management options for this widespread condition.

 

Make A Donation To NAFC

NAFC has served the public for over 25 years as a non-profit dedicated to educating, empowering, and supporting people living with bladder and bowel conditions.  Help us continue this mission by making a donation to NAFC – every cent counts and even a little can help us continue providing services to the over 1 million people who visit our site each year.   

Your contribution matters and can make a real difference.  It’s how we’re able to continue creating free courses for your local communities. It’s how we’re able to advocate for patients in home and at assisted care facilities for quality incontinence supplies. It’s how we provide thousands of free educational brochures to patients looking for help. And it’s how we are able to increase the awareness of the impact of incontinence on those it touches.

Please consider a donation to NAFC this November in honor of Bladder Health Awarenss Month.

Thanks for all you do to support us! Now get out there, start taking some action, and make some noise! 

Demand To Be Dry: Why NAFC Is Fighting For Absorbency Standards Across The Country

Why NAFC Is Fighting For Absorbency Standards Across The Country

Why NAFC Is Fighting For Absorbency Standards Across The Country

While most people know NAFC as a provider of education and support to those who live with incontinence, did you also know that we work tirelessly to raise awareness of the condition, and to ensure that you have quality products to manage the condition?

For many years, NAFC has been on a mission to ensure that all adult absorbent products made in the US adhere to certain quality standards.

Why is this an issue?  

Simply put, not every absorbent product is equal. Some work better than others, and this can create several problems:

  • Cost to the Patient. Inferior absorbent products are simply not as absorbent, which can result in the need for frequent changes. If you’re constantly changing products, it’s going to cost you a lot more money. 
  • Skin Irritation. Inferior products don’t do as good of a job at keeping the skin dry. Left in a wet product for too long, skin can become damaged, irritated, or infected. This can lead to an increase in skin irritation or more serious conditions like UTI’s or skin dermatitis
  • Medicaid supported products. Those who rely on Medicaid to help pay for absorbent products are at a disadvantage too, since these decisions are typically based solely on price, resulting in the use of cheap and often lower quality products.
  • Confusing Choices. With so many products on the market, caregivers and patients have a hard time weeding through the good from the bad.

All of this can lead to a negative overall impact on the quality of life for users and their families. This is why NAFC is fighting to get every state to adopt a set of standards that absorbent manufactures must follow.

These recommended standards include the following:

  • Instill A Ceiling For Rewet Rate. Rewet rate is a measure of a product’s ability to withstand multiple incontinent episodes between changes. It is the ability of the product to prevent the skin from being “rewet” by bodily fluids and is essential in skin protection.
  • Evaluate Rate Of Absorption. This refers to the amount of time it takes for a product to absorb a given amount of fluid and is important in reducing the amount of time skin is exposed to moisture following an incontinent episode. The more skin is exposed to moisture, the greater chance it has of becoming irritated.
  • Set Limits on Retention Capacity. Retention capacity measures a product’s ability to hold fluid without leaking. This is important not only in preventing leaks (isn’t that why you use absorbents in the first place?) but also in protecting the skin from increased moisture.
  • Ensure That Sizing Options Are Available. Because fit is an important factor in reducing the chance for leaks, sizing options matter. NAFC recommends that each state ensure that there is a variety of sizing choices available for patients to choose from to ensure the best possible fit.
  • Account For Varying Levels Of Absorbency. Not everyone experiences the same amount of leakage, so multiple options should be available to patients. Choosing the right level of absorbency can help protect the skin, reduce product waste, and optimize cost.
  • Use Safe Materials. Believe it or not, not every manufacturer uses high quality products to create their absorbency products. As part of the NAFC initiative, we recommend that none of the components in an absorbent product, including additives, be listed in any federal regulatory agency as “unsafe”.
  • Include Closure Systems on Briefs and Protective Underwear. Closures help patients in a couple of different ways – it promotes a better fit, and also reduces waste by making it easier to check for wetness without having to throw out the product.
  • Build In “Breathable Zones”.  Ensuring that enough air is allowed to flow in and out of the product reduces heat and humidity within the absorbent product, making it more comfortable and safe for the skin.
  • Institute Good Elasticity In Products. Elasticity may not seem like a big deal, but it helps to provide a comfortable and snug fit when wearing briefs or protective underwear. This can be especially important to those who experience chronic, loose bowels or diarrhea.

Currently, only NAFC has published standards for disposable absorbent products and there are no national quality standards for adult disposable absorbent products. Without national standards, caregivers and providers of adult absorbent products are forced to make incontinence product purchasing decisions with limited knowledge or understanding of product efficacy. This creates added waste (in terms of product, and wasted dollars), and can create health issues for patients as well. NAFC is working to make it easier for states to adopt these standards, and we need your help.

What You Can Do.

Help NAFC fight for these national standards to ensure that everyone has access to high quality products.

  • Pledge your support.  Help to ensure that Medicaid recipients who rely on incontinence goods receive quality products that are appropriate for their specific condition!  Please sign the NAFC’s petition, urging your state to adopt and implement NAFC’s "Quality Performance Standards for Disposable Adult Absorbent Products".

To find your state's pledge of support, click here.

  • Make a donation.  NAFC and the Council for Quality Absorbent Products are fighting to ensure that national quality standards are in place for adult disposable absorbent products. Please donate now to help us ensure that every state adopts these national standards. 

For a historical overview of NAFC’s Standards initiative, please review the published journal article as well as original suggested test methods.  Please note that the test methodologies related to NAFC’s Performance Standards for Disposable Absorbent Products for Incontinence have since been defined, documented and published by INDA and appear in The Harmonized Test Methods of the Nonwovens and Related Industries, 2012 Edition, published by INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry and EDANA, International Association Serving the Nonwovens and Related Industries and The Harmonized Test Methods of the Nonwovens and Related Industries, 2015 Edition, published by INDA, Association of the Nonwoven Fabrics Industry and EDANA, International Association Serving the Nonwovens and Related Industries. Click here for a list of current INDA test methods as related to NAFC’s Performance Standards for Disposable Absorbent Products for Incontinence.

What Exactly Does NAFC Do?....A Lot.

What Does NAFC Do?

What Does NAFC Do?

As a visitor to this blog and website, you probably know that NAFC exists to help those with incontinence. In fact, our mission is pretty clear:  The National Association For Continence is a national non-profit organization dedicated to improving the quality of life of people with incontinence, voiding dysfunction, and related pelvic floor disorders. Our purpose is to be the leading source for public education and advocacy about the causes, prevention, diagnosis, treatments, and management alternatives for incontinence. 

Simply put, we don’t think anyone should have to live with bladder leaks. NAFC strives to de-stigmatize incontinence, promote preventative measures, and motivate individuals to seek treatment.

But have you ever wondered how we do all this? Here’s a quick breakdown of some of the ways we’re working every day to support our mission:

We’re providing high-quality information that you can trust.

NAFC creates and publishes (with the help of qualified healthcare professionals) information about all types of bladder and bowel health conditions and makes it all available through our website, NAFC.org, for anyone and everyone to learn from. We offer free brochures, tools to help you manage your condition, regularly updated stories and blogs from patients living with incontinence and experts on the condition, and even a way to find a doctor near you. We offer Healthcare Professionals tools for their office, free courses they can use in their community to educate patients, and up to date information about incontinence and the incontinence market. Above all else, we want people to be educated about their condition and to know the options available to them.

We’re raising awareness.  

Our high quality content means nothing if we’re not able to get it to the people who need us. We are a small organization, with even smaller budgets. But despite that, we’ve managed to reach quite a large number of people with our message. In the past 12 months, we’ve had nearly 1 million people visit our website. Our efforts in social media and online advertising have had over 10 million impressions.  On a monthly basis we send our newsletter, filled with tips, management tools, and news on incontinence to over 10,000 people. And our awareness campaign this past year has helped show millions that a “Life Without Leaks” is a very real possibility.

We’re providing community.  

NAFC’s message boards are filled with nearly 2,000 active users and were visited 30,000 times in the past year.  Our message boards have become a safe haven for those looking for advice from others going through similar things, or for those who just need to talk to someone who understands. Our goal when creating the message boards was to build an open, safe place where people can speak freely about their condition with no judgment. And judging by the number of people participating, we think we’ve done that. NAFC also maintains an active social media presence on Facebook and Twitter to help foster community and interact with those looking for information on incontinence.

We’re advocates for quality standards.

Did you know that not all absorbent products are created equally? NAFC has long been an advocate for quality standards across adult absorbent products to ensure products are made with safe materials, are created with multiple sizing options and absorbency levels in mind, and are effective in keeping moisture away from the skin to prevent irritation.  We’ve published standards for disposable absorbent products and have created a Task Force that had been working to make it easier for states to adopt these standards. Learn more about our efforts here.

NAFC works tirelessly everyday to bring you quality information and to provide a community where you can learn and connect with others. And we’re fighting every day to ensure you have quality products to help you manage your condition. But we need your help to continue. All of our hard work also comes with expenses: website and server upkeep and maintenance, the development of new educational content, tools and programs, and the staff to support all of our advocacy and awareness efforts.

Will you help us this season by making a donation to NAFC? Our continued success depends on you. And with over 25 million people in the US living with incontinence, we still have a long way to go. If NAFC has made even a small difference in your life, please consider making a tax-deductible donation today.

We’re proud to serve you and to be bringing awareness to this condition that so often causes shame, embarrassment, and a reduced quality of life. Help us continue by making a donation today!

Why Incontinence Is A Condition We Need To Worry About

Why Incontinence Is A Condition We Need To Worry About

Incontinence is a condition largely overlooked and under treated in the United States.  Although nearly 37 million people every year are affected by incontinence (which ranges from bladder to bowel leakage issues), unfortunately only a fraction of them ever seek help.  Issues like stigma and embarrassment keep many from reaching out.  Others seek help but may only try one or two treatment options before giving up. And there are others that talk to their doctor but, sadly, don’t end up getting the proper care due to either lack of physician knowledge of incontinence treatment options, or an unwillingness to refer to a urological specialist.

Yet, despite the unwillingness to talk about it, or treat it, incontinence is something that we should absolutely be worried about for the future.

It is estimated that as of 2050, nearly 60 million women will have at least one pelvic floor disorder. 41.3 million will experience urinary incontinence, and 9.2 million will have pelvic organ prolapse. Those are big numbers. Add men to the totals and they become staggering.

Of course, with increased prevalence come increased costs.  Estimates as recent as 2014 project the total economic national costs of patients over 25 that have overactive bladder along with urgency urinary incontinence to rise from $65.9 billion to nearly $82.6 billion by 2020.

Add all of this to the decreasing rates of urologists in America and we have a real problem on our hands.  A report from the American Urological Association predicts that by 2025, the number of urologists in the US will drop by nearly 30%.

Increased prevalence, increased cost, and a decrease in the help needed to treat the condition. This is what we are facing.

But it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way. We can make a difference now by making incontinence a more understood condition. By being brave and speaking up about it to our doctors and demanding treatment from them. By sharing our stories with close friends and relatives in efforts to reduce the stigma (“Yes, you are not the only one – I suffer from it too!”). This is how we fight. This is how we increase the options available to us. This is how we reduce the prevalence.

Don’t let inactivity determine your fate. There’s no better time than Bladder Health Awareness Month to speak up about your condition. Do it today.

Why Didn't Anyone Tell Me About Pelvic Organ Prolapse?

A Guest Blog By Sally Connor

I am a 38-year old woman, and I am angry. Angry that my body has changed so much since I’ve had children, angry that I developed a prolapsed bladder after the birth of my first son, angry that I can no longer run the way I used to without making several trips to the bathroom, or worse, wetting myself. I am angry with my doctors for not telling me that this may be a side effect of pregnancy and that there were steps I could have taken to prevent it. I’m angry with other women for not telling me that it has happened to them. I am angry for my sheer ignorance of the situation until it happened to me. But more than anything, I am angry that no one knows any of this because in our society, it feels too embarrassing to really talk about.

When we are young, we don’t think about these things. Before I had children, I don’t think that I ever even gave the pelvic floor much thought. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know what it was.  Here is what I didn’t know:  That the pelvic floor muscles act as a basket, supporting your bladder, uterus, and rectum. It is also connected to and supported by your deepest core muscles – your transverse abdominus (below the ‘six pack’ abs) and your multifidus (the tiny muscles that support the spine), and is affected by almost every movement you make.  The pelvic floor, what I now refer to as the epicenter of my body, is called upon every time you sit, stand, squat, walk, and even breathe. 

So I ask, why is it that we don’t hear more about this vital web of muscles? Why are we kept in the dark until it is too late? Because, really, much of this can usually be prevented. The pelvic floor, just like any other muscle in the body, can be strengthened and trained. With regular exercise, the pelvic floor and the supporting muscles around it can provide a strong foundation for continence for your entire life. But, like any other muscle, if it is already in a weakened state, and then becomes traumatized by something like childbirth, well, the damage is done. 

That is the case with prolapse. You can try to repair it, and may see marked improvement through physical therapy, or even surgery, but once the damage is done, it is done. 

It doesn’t mean that there is no hope though. I know this. I have seen great improvement in my symptoms and am grateful to have had access to a very skilled physical therapist who was able to show me how to strengthen things up ‘down there’. But, I still do experience some symptoms and I can’t help wonder if things would be the same had I been more aware of this muscle and what I should have been doing to keep it strong prior to and during pregnancy. 

With over 25 million Americans experiencing incontinence, I am baffled that the issue is not publically talked about more often. It is estimated that about 40% of women will experience prolapse at some point in their life. When will we decide that these conditions deserve attention? Talking about them would encourage more people to get help, and, maybe even more importantly, take steps to prevent it. 

Instead, the silence only encourages the shame, embarrassment, and isolation that many people with incontinence experience.  It does nothing to help those who are experiencing the issue to know there are ways to treat it.  Nor does it educate those who have not experienced it to know that this is something that should be considered. Until we can all be more open and recognize that this is a problem worth talking about (shouting about!), we will be a society that continues to allow it’s people to ‘quietly manage their symptoms’ instead of really preventing or treating them. 

So please, speak up about your incontinence, your prolapse, or any other pelvic floor issue you may have. While it may be common, it’s not normal, and is nothing that anyone should have to suffer with in silence.

About the author:  Sally Connor is a mother, wife, entrepreneur, and homemaker who suffered a prolapse after giving birth to her son. She has refused to let this symptom rule her life and strives to increase awareness of pelvic floor issues and what women can do about them by simply talking more about the issue.  She hopes that one day pelvic floor issues and incontinence will be a less taboo subject.