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.


SIGN UP TO RECEIVE THE SUI TREATMENT TRACKER!

Have you started treatment for SUI? Sign up to receive our SUI Treatment Tracker and keep track of your progress! This 6 week program will help keep you on track and will help determine how your treatment is working.

Patient Perspective: Overcoming Overactive Bladder

Overcoming Overactive Bladder

When I was in my early forties, I suddenly found myself rushing to the bathroom constantly. The urge would strike without warning causing me to sprint there lest I want to have an accident everywhere. It wasn’t too big of a deal when I was at home – I was typically able to make it to a bathroom, but when I was in an unfamiliar place, I’d feel panicked until I knew where every toilet in the place was, just in case I needed to make a mad dash to one.

I had been at stay at home mom for the last several years, caring for my youngest daughter, but when she finally started school, I decided it was time to return to the working world. But first, I resolved to get my bladder under control – I didn’t want to be rushing from meeting to meeting with important clients with the fear of peeing my pants.

I visited my doctor and found out that I had Overactive Bladder. It’s where your bladder has sudden spasms that cause you to feel the need to empty it – even if you just went. He prescribed a medication, which helped a lot and made me feel more confident as I returned to work. I’m now exploring a procedure involving nerve stimulation that is supposed to be even more effective and won’t require me to take medications every day. 

I’m so happy I got this treated before returning to work, and wish I would have done it sooner! It would have made heading to the park with my daughter much less daunting! Don’t wait to see a doctor if you have OAB. Turns out there are lots of things that you can do to treat this common (but not normal!) problem.

 

Jane F.

Portland, OR

                                     

Practicing Mindfulness To Ease IBS Symptoms

Practicing Mindfulness To Ease IBS Symptoms

In today’s hectic and crazy world, it’s hard to even think about finding the time to just sit and practice mindfulness.  For many, it’s a hard concept to grasp, and as a practice, it can feel intimidating to start. But carving out even 5-10 minutes of each day for some quite time can do wonders for your stress and anxiety levels, and may even help with things like IBS symptoms, simply by calming your mind and being objectively aware of how you’re feeling.

BENEFITS OF MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness has been practiced for thousands of years and is thought to have originated in Eastern cultures and religions.   Turns out that the ancient practitioners were on to something. Recent research has shown that mindfulness has many benefits, including the following: 

  • Reduced rumination

  • Reduced stress and decreased anxiety

  • Increased working memory capacity

  • Better ability to focus

  • Less emotional reactivity

  • Enhanced self-insight

  • Increased immune functioning

  • Improvements in well-being

WHAT TO EXPECT

Before you start practicing mindfulness, you need to know a bit about what to expect.  The main goal of mindfulness is to be able to pay attention to the present moment you’re in, without judgment. This sounds pretty easy, but once you get started you’ll see it’s much harder than it appears.

Your mind has a mind of it’s own and tends to drift toward all sorts of things except what’s happening to you right at this moment – that big work project coming up, the cupcakes you promised to make for your 3rd grader’s class this week, an upsetting conversation you had with a friend or family member, your growing to-do list, and on and on.

But not to fear – your wandering mind is completely normal and it just takes some practice pulling your thoughts back to the present moment once you realize they’ve drifted off. Once you’re able to this in practice, you’ll find you’re better able to do it in real life too, making you more present in your day-to-day activities.

HOW TO START

  1. Find a comfortable place to practice. This doesn’t have to be a picturesque seat in the middle of a garden or waterfall. It can be a comfortable chair in your kitchen, a quite spot outside, or even your desk chair in your office. The main thing is to find a place that feels good to you. Be sure that your body posture is comfortable too, and that you’re in a position that you can remain in for the length of your practice.

  2. Start with 5-10 minutes. This feels like a small amount of time, but is a great place to start when you’re trying to fit this practice into your day. And when you’re just getting started, trust us when we say that even 5-10 minutes may feel like a long time to just sit still. As you continue with your practice, you can begin to extend your time.

  3. Concentrate on your breathing. No need to count your breaths or hold it for a specific amount of time. Just feel your breath as you inhale and exhale slowly and regularly.

  4. If you feel your mind start to wander (and you will), just acknowledge it and then pull your concentration back to your breath.

  5. Don’t judge yourself or your feelings. This is hard work, and takes practice to be able to continually be present and not focus on the things that are happening in our lives.

  6. Practice makes perfect. Or at least it makes you better. With continued practice of mindfulness meditation, you’ll become much better at staying focused throughout and that will bleed into other areas of your life as well. We know it’s hard to sit still for a set time each day, but stay with it. The benefits are well worth it.

NAFC's Many Resources For Managing Overactive Bladder

NAFCs Resources For Managing Overactive Bladder

Do you have overactive bladder? If you find yourself often running to the bathroom, you might be suffering from OAB – the urgent and frequent need to urinate. And, that urgent need may be difficult to stop, causing you to experience bladder leaks. Overactive bladder affects over 35 million people in the US, and can be a big disrupter to your everyday life. You may be struggling with this condition and wondering how to stop overactive bladder. But knowing more about the condition, what causes it, and how you can manage and treat it can make a big difference.

NAFC has tons of resources for patients living with overactive bladder. Check out the two listed below:

OAB RESOURCE CENTER

The NAFC OAB Resource Center has videos about Overactive Bladder, first hand patient stories, and articles and brochures to help you understand the condition and what to do about it. It also has a collection of downloadable guides that can help you manage your condition. Download our OAB screener to evaluate the severity of your condition, get a tips sheet on bladder retraining, try the NAFC Bladder Diary, and get our tips for how to talk to your doctor about oab.

OAB TREATMENT TRACKER

Do you feel like you’ve tried everything to treat your Overactive Bladder? NAFC created the OAB Treatment Tracker to help you determine your next best step in treatment options. Answer a few questions about your symptoms, the treatments you have tried in the past, and new treatments you may be interested in and receive a customized email outlining treatment options that may be a good fit for you. Best of all, you can print out the email and bring it with you to your doctor’s appointment to help facilitate a discussion about treatment options for OAB.

Patient Perspective: Audra's Story

Audra's Story of Living With Bladder Leaks

It took me 8 years to talk to my doctor about my bladder leaks. Allow me to let that sink in for a moment – EIGHT YEARS!!  

Think about how much happens during a span of eight years. For me, I had 2 children, switched jobs once, and had a cross country move in the middle of it all.

You’d think that with all of those life changes I’d be able to address something as simple as bladder leaks. I had a million and one reasons why I put it off for so long:  “It will heal after I recover from childbirth.” “It’s not so bad that I can’t manage it.” “I can just wear a pad.” “I’ll just bring along an extra set of clothes with me in the car just in case.” “I’m usually near a bathroom so should be able to make it most of the time.”

On and on the excuses went. But as the years went by, I got sick of just “dealing with it.” I finally made an appointment with my doctor and felt silly when I told him how long I had been suffering (needlessly).  He first set me up with a Physical Therapist to work on strengthening my pelvic floor, and also prescribed me a medication to take. The PT helped me a lot and after nearly 6 months of regular therapy, I was able to quit the medication all together. Now I just go for regular check ups, but keep up the exercises at home on my own.

I feel stronger and leak free, but most of all, I feel in control of my own life again. I’ll never let something like the fear of embarrassment prevent me from getting the medical attention I need again. 

Audra S., Missoula, MT

Why You Shouldn't Let Nocturia Go Untreated

Why You Shouldn't Let Nocturia Go Untreated

How often do you wake up at night to use the bathroom? Two times a night?  Three times a night? More than that? It may not seem like a huge deal, but waking up two or more times a night to empty your bladder is not normal, and is a condition that can and should be treated. It can be a huge bother to those who have it and is likely affecting your health in ways you may not even realize.

Nocturia, defined as going to the bathroom 2 or more times at night, happens to about 1 in 3 people over the age of 30, and becomes more common as we age.  Patients with severe nocturia may get up 5 or 6 times during the night to go the bathroom.  And while all these trips to the bathroom may feel more annoying than anything, they are having a big effect on your sleep patterns and put you at risk for a number of other issues. 

The impact of nocturia on your sleep

Sleep plays a big role in our physical and mental functioning.  Less sleep at night and lower sleep efficiency have both been associated with things like an increased risk of poor physical function, of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, as well as a reduced physical function and decreased cognitive function. Not only that, but quality of life is greatly affected:  A US study of 1214 women showed that nocturia had a significant impact on quality of life in patients who made at least 2 trips to the bathroom at night.  

It makes sense – the less sleep we get, the more tired we are the next day, affecting our abilities to do our daily tasks and be our best selves.  Even work is affected – lower work productivity and increased sick leave have been reported in patients with nocturia. Getting up often in the night also increases the chance of falls among older adults with nocturia.  Studies have shown that patients who make at least 2 or more trips to the bathroom at night have a greater than 2-fold increase in the risk of fractures and fall-related fractures.

The impact of nocturia on your partner

And if you’re the one with nocturia, its not just you that is affected.  Your partners are waking up with you. In one study 46% of women were waking up at night due to their partners nighttime bathroom visits.  Another study that looked at men with nocturia and their spouses showed that sleep disturbance was rated as the most inconvenient issue, with 62% of spouses reporting fatigue, and 36% reporting feeling dissatisfied, unhappy, or terrible.  Your nocturia is not only costing you a good night’s sleep – it’s preventing your partner from getting one as well.

If you have nocturia, don’t let it go untreated. There are lots of behavioral options you can try to fix the problem and if those don’t work, your doctor can prescribe a medication. New medications are now available to treat nocturnal polyuria specifically. Nocturnal polyuria is a condition where the kidneys produce too much urine, and is the most common cause of nocturia. 

“What’s exciting is that physicians are learning more about nocturia and now have more treatment options available for their patients,” says Eric Rovner, MD, a Professor in the Department of Urology at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston, and the director of the Section of Voiding Dysfunction, Female Urology and Urodynamics in the Department of Urology at MUSC.

If you live with nocturia, talk to your doctor today about things you can try to stop those middle of the night bathroom trips, and get back to a full nights sleep.

Need help finding a doctor in your area? Use our Find A Doctor Tool!

REFERENCES:  1. SONIA ANCOLI-ISRAEL, DONALD L. BILWISE, JENS PETER NORGAARD. THE EFFECT OF NOCTURIA ON SLEEP. SLEEP MED REVIEW. 2011 APRIL; 15(2): 91-97.  2. KUPELIAN V, WEI JT, O'LEARY MP, NORGAARD JP, ROSEN RC, MCKINLAY JB. NOCTURIA AND QUALITY OF LIFE: RESULTS FROM THE BOSTON AREA COMMUNITY HEALTH SURVEY. EUR UROL. 2012;61(1):78-84. 3. CAPPUCCIO FP, COOPER D, D'ELIA L, STRAZZULLO P, MILLER MA. SLEEP DURATION PREDICTS CARDIOVASCULAR OUTCOMES: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW AND METOANALYSIS OF PROSPECTIVE STUDIES. EUR HEART J. 2011;32(12):1484-1492. 4. FISKE J, SCARPERO HM, XUE X, NITTI VW. DEGREE OF BOTHER CAUSED BY NOCTURIA IN WOMEN. NEUROUROL URODYN. 2004;23(2):130–3. 5. OHAYON MM. NOCTURNAL AWAKENINGS AND COMORBID DISORDERS IN THE AMERICAN GENERAL POPULATION. J PSYCHIATR RES. 2008 NOV;43(1):48–54. 6. KOBELT G, BORGSTROM F, MATTIASSON A. PRODUCTIVITY, VITALITY AND UTILITY IN A GROUP OF HEALTHY PROFESSIONALLY ACTIVE INDIVIDUALS WITH NOCTURIA. BJU INT. 2003 FEB;91(3):190–5. 7. NAKAGAWA H, IKEDA Y, NIU K, KAIHO Y, OHMORI-MATSUDA K, NAKAYA N, ET AL. DOES NOCTURIA INCREASE FALL-RELATED FRACTURES AND MORTALITY IN A COMMUNITY-DWELLING ELDERLY POPULATION AGED 70 YEARS AND OVER? RESULTS OF A 3-YEAR PROSPECTIVE COHORT STUDY IN JAPAN. NEUROUROL URODYN. 2008;27:674–5. 8. ASPLUND R. HIP FRACTURES, NOCTURIA, AND NOCTURNAL POLYURIA IN THE ELDERLY. ARCH GERONTOL GERIATR. 2006 NOV;43(3):319–26. [PUBMED] 9. SHVARTZMAN P, BORKAN JM, STOLIAR L, PELEG A, NAKAR S, NIR G, ET AL. SECOND-HAND PROSTATISM: EFFECTS OF PROSTATIC SYMPTOMS ON SPOUSES’ QUALITY OF LIFE, DAILY ROUTINES AND FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS. FAM PRACT. 2001 DEC;18(6):610–3. 10. KIM SC, LEE SY. MEN’S LOWER URINARY TRACT SYMPTOMS ARE ALSO MENTAL AND PHYSICAL SUFFERINGS FOR THEIR SPOUSES. J KOREAN MED SCI. 2009 APR;24(2):320–5.

Do I Have Nocturia?

What Is Nocturia and how do I know if I have it?

It’s 2 am and you’re up to use the bathroom. Again. Sound familiar? If your bladder is constantly waking you up to relieve itself, you may suffer from a condition called nocturia

WHAT IS NOCTURIA?

Nocturia is defined as the need to use the bathroom 2 or more times in one night. It’s a very common condition – in fact, 1 in 3 adults over the age of 30 have it – although it tends to occur more as we age. 

Nocturia causes us to wake up multiple times at night, disrupting our sleep, which can cause some serious side effects. The interrupted sleep caused by nocturia can cause real problems with your quality of life and your health. Many people dealing with nocturia experience fatigue, poor physical function, and decreased cognitive function due to insufficient sleep. Nocturia is also associated with an increased risk for falls (especially worrisome for older adults) and mortality, so it’s a good idea to get it treated. 

The causes of nocturia can vary, but it’s most often caused by nocturnal polyuria, a condition where the kidneys produce too much urine.  That’s why treating nocturia at the source is so important.  If you’re only focused on treating, say, overactive bladder, you’re only targeting the bladder, not the kidneys. In reality, both conditions should be treated to effectively manage their respective symptoms.

HOW DO I KNOW IF I HAVE NOCTURIA?

If you often wake up 2 or more times in one night to use the bathroom, you probably have nocturia. You may also notice that you feel groggy during the day and your productivity may even be impacted.  If this sounds like you, don’t let it go untreated.

Start by keep a bladder diary for a few days to see if you can spot any trends. (Download our free bladder diary for nocturia here.) You may notice that you’re consuming a certain type or quantity of food or drink on the nights your nocturia occurs. Or maybe a specific medication that you take at night is the culprit. Track your activity for a few days then make some adjustments on your findings to see if it makes a difference. 

Some things you may want to try to improve nocturia include:

  • Limiting fluids a few hours before bed. This includes water rich foods as well.

  • Avoiding alcohol or caffeine before bed

  • Elevating your legs, or wearing compression stockings (if you notice you have any ankle or calve swelling during the day, indicating fluid build up in the legs.

If none of these behavioral options work, you’ll need to make a visit to your doctor to rule out some of the other potential causes of your nocturia. Your doctor can also prescribe a medication specifically for nocturia to help eliminate your nighttime bathroom trips.

Need help finding a specialist near you? Use our specialist finder!

What Is A Gynecologist?

Many women are familiar with OB/GYNs, but what is a Gynecologist, and how is it different?

What Is A Gynecologist?

A Gynecologist is a doctor that specializes in women’s health, especially as it relates to reproductive organs. Obstetricians are doctors that are specialized in caring for pregnant women. While the two fields are separate, many Gynecologists specialize in both, which is why you often see OB/GYN listed as it’s own specialty.

What Conditions Do Gynecologists Treat?

Gynecologists can treat any issue that relates to a woman’s reproductive organs, but also treats women’s general health issues as well. Some of the things that gynecologists may treat include the following:

How Often Should I See A Gynecologist?

Women should see their gynecologist once a year for regular exams, but visits may be more frequent if they are experiencing problems, or if they are pregnant. This goes for women at any age from teens to older women.

But I’ve Already Gone Through Menopause. Do I Really Still Have To See A Gynecologist?

Yes! In fact, regular screenings are just as important now as they were when you were younger. You should also still receive pelvic exams – even if you’re not getting a Pap smear – to check for things like sexually transmitted diseases, and any signs of cancer. In addition, incontinence or prolapse can also be big concerns as women get older. Don’t just assume that these are a normal part of aging and that nothing can be done. Your gynecologist can work with you to develop a treatment plan for these conditions, and recommend surgery if it is needed and desired. 

What To Expect At Your Gynecologist Visit

At your first visit, your gynecologist will want to get your medical history, and will likely do a pelvic examination. He or she may also do a breast check, to check for any unusual lumps. If they don’t instruct you how to do your own, ask them. Women should perform regular checks for breast lumps on their own outside of their yearly exams so they know what is normal, and can recognize when something seems unusual.

After that, your yearly exams will be pretty routine, unless you have an issue or if you are pregnant. Once you get older, your doctor will talk with you about menopause, the changes and symptoms you may be experiencing, and how to treat them. Your gynecologist will also perform regular checks of the ovaries, vagina, bladder, rectum, and your uterus. A lot can still happen in your later years, including various cancers, STDs, vaginal tears (due to increased dryness of the vaginal walls), incontinence, or prolapse, so it’s important to keep up with those regular routine exams.

What Is A Urologist?

What Is A Urologist?

While most people who experience bladder issues start with their primary doctor, a Urologist can be a great next step in determining more advanced treatment options. Here’s a breakdown of what urologist do, when to see them, what conditions they treat, and what you can expect at your appointment.

What is a Urologist?

A urologist is a specialist that treats diseases of the urinary tract in both men and women, and also the reproductive system in men. A urologist may generalize in all conditions, or they may specialize in a specific gender, pediatrics, neurological conditions, or oncology.

Urologists are required to complete four years of college, and then an additional four years of medical schooling. After that, they typically spend 4-5 years in a residency program, working with and learning from trained urologists.

What conditions do urologists treat?

Urologists can treat anything related to the urinary tract or male reproductive system. Some common conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Incontinence (Overactive bladder, urinary incontinence)
  • Bedwetting
  • Prolapse (women)
  • Prostate Health (BPH, prostate cancer)
  • Cancer (bladder, kidney, prostate, testicular)
  • Kidney diseases or stones
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Erectile dysfunction (men)
  • Infertility (men)
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)

A urologist will typically perform various tests to diagnose the condition, and may then suggest a number of different treatment options, potentially including surgery. Urologists are trained in performing specific types of surgery, such as sling procedures for urinary incontinence or prolapse, repairing urinary organs, removing blockages, vasectomy’s, removing tissue from enlarged prostates, or even removing the prostate all together.

When should I see a urologist?

Your primary care doctor may refer you to a urologist if they are not seeing improvements in your symptoms or it the problem requires more specialized care than they can provide.  If you experience any of the following, you may want to consult with a urologist:

Men should also see a urologist regularly for prostate health exams, if they have any problems with infertility, and if they need a vasectomy.

What Can I Expect During My Urology Exam?

As with other doctors visits you’ve had, your urologist will want to get to know you and will ask for your complete medical history, a list of the medications you’re taking, and a rundown of the symptoms or concerns you’re having. If you’ve been keeping any type of bladder or bowel diary, now is the time to share it. Your urologist will also likely ask you for a urine sample, so be sure not to arrive with an empty bladder.

After that, a physical exam will usually follow that will allow the urologist to examine your ailments more closely, and also perform general health checks (such as assessing the prostate in men).

Depending on your condition, other tests may be performed, such as imaging scans, cystoscopy, or urodynamics, PSA test, or testosterone levels, to help better diagnosis your condition.

Once your urologist has a good understanding of the condition, he or she will be able to recommend a treatment plan for you. This may include additional tests to determine severity, behavioral modifications, medications, or even surgery.

If you find that you need to see a urologist, don’t be nervous! They are trained professionals who can help you find the right treatment for your condition. The most important thing to remember when visiting a urologist is to be open and honest when discussing your concerns, even if it feels embarrassing or uncomfortable to you. It’s the only way that your urologist will be able to provide a proper treatment plan for you.

Coming Out Of The Closet About Pelvic Organ Prolapse

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Betty Heath
Betty Heath

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

Staying Strong And Preventing Bladder Leakage During Menopause

preventing #bladderleakage during menopause

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

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

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

Weakening Of Pelvic Floor Muscles

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

A Less Elastic Bladder

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

Vaginal Dryness

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

Anal Trauma

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

It’s important to know that while these changes can lead to bladder or bowel leakage, the symptoms can also be avoided or eliminated by taking proper care of the pelvic floor. It’s never too late to start strengthening things up.

Here are some ways to increase the strength of your pelvic floor as you go through this period

Get Active

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

Try Squats

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

Kegel

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

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

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

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

Urinary Tract Infections

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

Yeast Infections

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

HPV

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

Learn more about women’s conditions here. 

Could Alcohol Consumption Be Contributing To Your Incontinence Or Bedwetting Problem?

Alcohol and incontinence

Eric was 43 when he first woke up wet. He had no idea what had happened to him, but after a couple of minutes he realized:  he had wet the bed. He was shocked – this had never happened to him before and he had no idea why it was happening now.

The bedwetting continued a couple of times a month for a few months until he finally knew something had to be done.  He noticed that he seemed to only wet the bed after he had had a few drinks with his buddies during their regular poker night. “I don’t usually drink much, but I like to have a few beers with the guys during our regular hang out.  I decided to try switching to water for the next couple of poker nights just to see what would happen.” Sure enough, once he omitted the alcohol, things improved dramatically.

Eric’s situation is not uncommon. Over 35 million American adults suffer from incontinence, and nearly 5 million have a bedwetting problem. And, while alcohol cannot be attributed to all of these cases, it is definitely something to try omitting for a while if you do suffer from incontinence. Sometimes, simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.

Alcohol on it’s own doesn’t cause incontinence, but for those who are prone to bladder leaks, it can be a trigger.  Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that in increases the production of urine and can also cause a person to need to use the restroom more often. Not only that, alcohol irritates the bladder, which can make overactive bladder symptoms worse. It’s worth it to try eliminating alcohol if you have incontinence. (Especially if you tend to drink to excess.)

Alcohol isn’t the only thing you should watch out for if you struggle with bladder leakage. 

The following foods and drinks can also irritate the bladder

  • Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea

  • Chocolate (it contains caffeine too!)

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Spicy foods

  • Citrus foods

  • Acidic foods, such as tomatoes

  • Cranberry juice

  • Sugar – including artificial sweeteners

  • Certain medications

If you are experiencing incontinence, try eliminating some of these foods from your diet to see if it makes a difference. It may help you to keep a bladder diary during this experiment to record how what you eat affects your bladder leaks. And if you experience bedwetting, definitely try skipping that nightly glass of wine. As Eric discovered, sometimes making simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.  “I’m dry again! I miss having a drink with the guys, but it’s something I can live without if it means I don’t wet the bed.”

Want a handy cheat sheet of foods to avoid if you have incontinence? Print out our free download of foods that may trigger incontinence and hang it on your fridge for easy reference!

Click Here To Print Your Guide

The Link Between Diabetes And Neurogenic Bladder

diabetes and neurogenic bladder

Diabetes is a growing epidemic in our nation. More than 29 million Americans currently suffer from diabetes, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that by 2050, as many as 1 out of every 3 adults in the US could have the condition.

Many of us have heard the common complications associated with diabetes: heart disease and stroke, eye problems, including blindness, kidney disease and amputations due to damaged blood vessels and nerves.  But did you know that diabetes can also lead to neurogenic bladder?

Neurogenic bladder is a condition that occurs when nerve damage has occurred, preventing the bladder from emptying properly. Symptoms can include a frequent and strong urge to urinate (but in small amounts), difficulty emptying the bladder, incontinence, and urinary retention. Many people associate neurogenic bladder with conditions such as spinal cord injuries, MS, Alzheimer’s Disease, or Parkinson’s Disease. But neurogenic bladder can happen in people with diabetes too, as a result of diabetic neuropathy, which causes the bladder to lose the ability to sense when it is full.

The good news is that there are treatment options available for neurogenic bladder. Lifestyle changes, such as scheduled voiding, dietary changes, and keeping a bladder diary are a helpful start and can make a big difference.  Several drugs and procedures can help with symptoms of overactive bladder, and for those who have difficulty urinating, catheters can be a big help as well. Finally, surgery options are available. 

Of course, if you are pre-diabetic, the best course of treatment is prevention. Keeping your A1C levels in check with proper diet and exercise is essential in ensuring that you maintain a healthy weight.  Eating healthy foods at moderate portions, and getting in 30 minutes of physical activity can delay and in some cases prevent the disease.

If you are concerned about diabetes, talk with your doctor. He or she will help you assess your risk factors, and start you on a plan to combat this very prevalent disease.

Struggling With Overactive Bladder? Know Your Options!

A Guest Blog By Dr. Harriette Scarpero, M.D.

It’s estimated that over 37 million Americans live with Overactive Bladder 1,2 – the urgent and frequent need to use the restroom. And yet, many people don’t receive the proper treatment they should. Part of this is due to one’s own embarrassment – no one likes to discuss the inability to control their bladder with anyone, even their doctor. In fact, in a recent NAFC survey of OAB patients, 74% said they waited longer than they should have to seek treatment3. And, while OAB has many treatment options, many of those people who didn’t seek treatment (26%) said they didn’t know about the treatment options available to them3. Sadly, of those who did seek treatment, only 20% were extremely satisfied with their current treatment3.

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a roadmap for those living with OAB to know what their options are? Luckily, there is. It’s called a patient Care Pathway, and it helps you to know your treatment choices, usually ranging from conservative to more advanced treatments. A Care Pathway shows possible treatment options, and helps you make informed decisions. With OAB, a Care Pathway is a great tool for both patients and physicians to use to find a treatment that works and the patient is comfortable with. The new OAB Care Pathway, sponsored by Medtronic, does just that. This Care Pathway is based on the clinical guidelines for OAB from the American Urological Association (AUA) and the Society of Urodynamics, Female Pelvic Medicine & Urogenital Reconstruction (SUFU).

Here’s a quick breakdown of how to use a Care Pathway:

  1. Your first step is to speak with a physician about your symptoms. As with most treatments, starting with a conservative approach is best.
  2. Once your physician determines your condition, they may have you try various lifestyle changes such as improving diet and exercise, or working to strengthen your pelvic floor in addition to using protective absorbent products if leakage is a problem.
  3. If lifestyle changes don’t work, oral medications are a common next step. These medications can help, and are a mainstay of therapy when behavioral and lifestyle changes prove ineffective. Some patients do experience side effects with medications, which may be difficult to handle. In fact, studies have shown that many patients with OAB do not stay on medications long term – only 28% of patients remained on medications after 6 months in one study4. Unfortunately, all too many patients think this is their last option and many do not see a physician again. This is where a Care Pathway can really help a patient and physician who aren’t sure what to try next.
  4. Advanced therapies can play a big role in the treatment of OAB, and are a good option to explore if medications haven’t worked for you. Sacral Neuromodulation is thought to target the nerves that are responsible for bladder function. Additionally, injected medications (Botox) block the signals that trigger OAB by calming the nerves and bladder muscle. Both of these may be treatments your doctor discusses with you after trying oral medication.
  5. Finally, if advanced therapies don’t work, a patient can look to surgical procedures that may help.

More education around the treatment options available can help you not only in finding a new solution that you may not have known about, but may also help you to get to a better place faster. If you’re suffering from symptoms of Overactive Bladder, study the OAB Care Pathway below, print it out, and walk through it with your doctor.

About The Author:  Dr. Harriette Scarpero is a board certified fellowship trained urologist and nationally recognized expert in female pelvic health and reconstruction (FPM/RS). She specializes in the urologic care of women.Dr. Scarpero received her B.A. in English from the University of the South in 1989.  She graduated from Louisiana State University School of Medicine in New Orleans, LA and completed her General Surgery Internship and Urology Residency at LSU Medical Center. She served as Chief Resident at LSU/Ochsner from 1999-2001.Before joining Associated Urologists, she was Associate Professor of Urologic Surgery at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine and a member of the Vanderbilt Academy of Excellence in Teaching. There her practice addressed complex reoperative cases as well as general female urologic cases.  She has helped train students, residents and fellows in FPM/RS for eight years and considers educating women about their urologic health to be an important component of the patient care she provides.As an expert in her field, Dr. Scarpero is active on many national urologic boards. She is a past president of The Society of Women in Urology, on the executive committee of The Society of Urodynamics and Female Urology, and participates on several committees for The American Urologic Association.Dr. Scarpero has published extensively in the areas of incontinence, urodynamics, and pelvic reconstruction, and she has been an invited lecturer at specialty meetings around the country. 

1. Stewart WF, et al. Prevalence and burden of overactive bladder in the United States. World J Urol. 2003 May;20(6):327-336. 2. United Nations, Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Population Division (2011). World Population Prospects: The 2010 Revision, CD-ROM Edition. 3. Leede Research, “Views on OAB: A Study for the National Association of Continence.” December 16, 2015. 4. Yeaw J, Benner J, Walt JG et al Comparing adherence and persistence across 6 chronic medication classes. J Manag Care Pharm. 2009:15(9): 724-736

ASK THE EXPERT: Is A Bladder Diary Really Necessary?

Is A Bladder Diary Really Necessary?

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 a bladder diary, and is it really necessary that I keep one?

Answer: A bladder diary is a great tool for those looking to treat their incontinence, and should be used as a first step in understanding your specific condition. A bladder diary will track the number of times you have gone to the bathroom in a day, if you’ve had any leakage (and the amount), and also tracks your food and drink consumption. By recording all of this over a series of days (at least 2-3 but up to a week or two can be really helpful), you may be able to see trends over time. For instance, perhaps you always experience leakage at a certain time of day, or after you’ve had a certain food or drink. These realizations can help you adjust your routine (or your diet) to avoid leaks. And, the tool can be extremely helpful to your physician, as it gives him/her a better picture of your situation and may help advise better treatment options that will work for you.

In short – yes! Everyone who experiences incontinence should try keeping a bladder or bowel diary for at least a couple of days. What you see may surprise you, or, at the very least, provide a roadmap of your condition that you can share with your doctor.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Contact us!

Best Vitamins For MS

Best Vitamins For MS

Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system. When you have MS, you may experience a variety of symptoms ranging from mild, to severe.  Because the cause of MS is not known, most treatments target the symptoms of the disease.  There are many pharmaceuticals that are used to treat MS, but many people also use a variety of vitamins and supplements in addition to their conventional treatments to help alleviate their symptoms.  Check out this roundup by Everyday Health of the most common supplements that MS patients use to treat the condition. 

As always, remember to discuss any new treatment with your physician. 

Are there any other vitamins that you use to help treat your MS symptoms?