7 Tell-Tale Signs You Have A Bladder Infection

7 Signs You Have A Bladder Infection Or UTI.

If you’ve suffered from bladder infections in the past, you likely know the symptoms when you spot them. After all, a UTI is an unpleasant experience and not easily forgettable. But if you’re experiencing one for the first time, it may be hard to know what your symptoms mean. 

Below are 7 signs that you may be suffering from a bladder infection or a UTI.  Of course, any of these may occur on their own, but a UTI is more likely when you experience a combination of any of the below. 

7 Signs That You May Be Suffering From A Bladder Infection Or UTI

A painful burning sensation.

A strong burning sensation when you’re urinating is one of the most common signs of having a bladder infection. It happens when bacteria, (most often E. coli) gets into your urethra.

Needing to go. A lot. 

Many women with UTIs experience the need to go to the bathroom often – even if they just went.  These bathroom trips typically don’t produce much urine.

An overwhelming need to urinate fast. 

If you’re rushing to the bathroom often, with the intense need to urinate NOW, it may be a sign of a urinary tract infection.  This typically is accompanied by painful urination.

Abdominal pain.

Pain, pressure or tenderness in your abdomen and pubic area is common with a bladder infection.  If the pain moves to your lower back, it could be an indication that the infection has spread to your kidneys. 

Cloudy, or Bloody Urine.

Cloudy colored urine is common in urinary tract infections, and if you see blood in the urine, it may be a sign of a leakage of red-blood cells from your kidneys. Both are signs of a UTI or bladder infection.

Strong Smelling Urine. 

This may be one of the first indications that you’re developing a UTI.  You can thank the bacteria that are causing the infection for producing a strong ammonia smell, or a sweet or off-smelling urine. 

Fever.  

While less common, and certainly not an indicator on it’s own, if you’ve developed any of the above symptoms, and also have a fever, it’s time to get checked out by a doctor (if you haven’t already).  A UTI is considered more serious the farther up the urinary tract is goes, and fever (and sometimes chills, or even nausea or vomiting) can be an indication that it’s reached the kidneys.  If this happens, call your doctor right away.

If you’re experiencing any combination of the symptoms above, see a doctor right away. Bladder infections are often treated with antibiotics and the sooner you start them, the sooner you’ll find relief. 

 

 

 

Home Remedies For IBS

Home Remedies For IBS

Irritable Bowel Syndrome, also commonly known as IBS, can cause symptoms such as painful cramps, bloating, excessive gas, diarrhea, and even constipation. For some people, the impact of IBS on daily living can be extensive and can negatively affect quality of life. But there are things that you can do to treat IBS naturally. And since it’s a chronic condition, it’s a good idea to learn some methods for keeping it in check and managing the symptoms.

There is no cure for IBS, but knowing what your triggers are, and how to avoid them, can greatly reduce your symptoms. Read below for some ideas on how to manage your IBS symptoms without medication.

EXERCISE.

Working out can help keep your digestive system working properly. It’s also a great way to relieve stress and anxiety, two big contributors to IBS symptoms. Exercising can be as easy as taking a short walk around your neighborhood. The key here is consistency, so aim for a 30-minutes, 4-5 times per week.

DIET.

What you eat when you have IBS can make a huge difference. Many people find that certain foods will cause them more problems, so try to avoid these when you can:

  •          Dairy products
  •          Spicy Foods
  •          Citrus Fruits
  •          Sugar
  •          Caffeine (including chocolate)
  •          Alcohol
  •          Soda
  •          Fried Foods
  •          Beans
  •          Broccoli or cauliflower

WATCH HOW YOU EAT.

How you eat may be just as important as what you’re eating. Eating more slowly helps prevent you from swallowing too much air, which can cause excessive gas. And opting for smaller meals throughout your day can help you avoid overloading the digestive system, which can cause cramping and diarrhea.

MANAGING STRESS.

Stress can be a big contributor to IBS so learning effective ways to manage it can really help to alleviate symptoms. Exercise, as mentioned above can be a great stress reliever. You can also try practicing mindfulness, which has been shown to reduce anxiety and stress in many people. Talking with a friend or a counselor about stressful situations can also do wonders to help you calm your mind.

PROBIOTICS.

Probiotics are specific species and strains of bacteria that we eat which are thought to improve gut health. Its unknown exactly how these work, but by improving your “gut health”, you may also improve your IBS symptoms. Probiotics can be taken as supplements, and are also found in things like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, and Kombucha.

GO EASY ON THE LAXATIVES.

Many people turn towards OTC laxatives to manage their IBS symptoms, but be careful – improper use of these products can sometimes make things worse. Always talk with your doctor about how to integrate them into your treatment plan before trying them on your own.

The most important thing you can do is to pay attention to your body and how you’re feeling. Notice how certain foods affect you and try your best to avoid them. Recognize when you’re feeling stressed out and find ways to calm your mind down. With a bit of practice, you’ll be on your way to fewer IBS symptoms, and a better ability to manage them.

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 Downloadable Resources - Tips & Brochures To Help Keep You Dry

Here at the National Association For Continence, we understand that people learn in different ways. While we see a vast amount of people visiting our website each month (over 80,000!), we know it’s not always easy to get information from a screen. And in some cases, having a physical tool can help you do things beyond just educate yourself – you can take notes, track progress, or remind yourself of important tips that can help to improve your bladder health.

That’s why our Resource Center is so important. We have a large variety of downloadable material and tools to help you on your journey to a Life Without Leaks.  Our resources cover a variety of topics, including Overactive Bladder, Bedwetting, Pelvic Organ Prolapse, Urinary Incontinence, and more.  We also have tips sheets for retraining your bladder, information on how to do kegels, bladder and bowel diaries, and a host of other tools available to you.

Check out the below materials in the NAFC Resource Center, and explore the entire library of offerings. 

NAFC DOWNLOADABLE RESOURCES:

 

It's Time To Talk - Visiting Your Doctor To Talk About Bedwetting

 
 
 
 

Have some other resources you’d like to see on nafc.org? Send us a message. We’d love to hear your suggestions!

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.

Patient Perspective: Larry's Story

Larry's Story - Learning to manage my incontinence

I’m 68 years old and I have incontinence. I’ve suffered a lot of setbacks over the years. I lost a finger in the army. I suffer from high blood pressure. And I have an old football injury that flares up regularly. But I have never suffered as much shame and humiliation as I have since I started experiencing incontinence.

It started innocently enough - a leak here and there. My doctor said it was due to prostate problems and gave me some medication to help. It did for a while, but then the leaks flared up again and I was forced to admit that this problem was not going away.

My first trip to the grocery store to purchase incontinence pads was a doozy. Standing there, looking at the wall of options was so intimidating. What do I choose? What size? How do I know it will fit? What if it doesn’t – can I return the bag? I had so many questions and no one to ask – after all, it’s not like men just talk about peeing their pants with each other all the time. Not to mention I kept looking over my shoulder to make sure that no one I knew saw me standing there. It would be so embarrassing to be “caught” in this situation.

When I finally got home, I started trying out the various absorbent products that I had purchased. I had bought 3 different types and gave each one a fair shot for a full day before making the call. Unfortunately none of them worked so I was back to the drawing board.

Fortunately, my wife found a company online that sold different products so I gave it a shot. I don’t know why I didn’t start with this option in the first place. They offered a free consultation so I gave them a call. The rep was so helpful and it was great having a guide to walk me through the different options, and also learn more about me, my condition and my lifestyle to help find something that would work best for me.

These days, I only use online services to order absorbent products. And, I’ve found great products that help me keep my leaks controlled, and my condition under wraps so no one is the wiser.

I still don’t love having incontinence, but it’s become such a normal part of life now that it doesn’t have the same hold on me as it once did. I didn’t envision this happening to me, but am happy to know that there are resources out there to help and products available that can make it more manageable. I feel free to live my life without fear of leaks and that is something to be really proud of.

Larry B., Seattle, WA

Patient Perspective: Nick's Story

Nick's Story - Incontinence After Prostate Removal

In August of 2015, I underwent surgery to have my prostate removed.  I had been diagnosed with prostate cancer the year before and my doctor had been closely observing me since then. 

When it seemed that my cancer was growing more quickly than he liked, he suggested surgery.  “Afterall”, he said, “you’re only 63.  You can still have a long life without worrying about this.”

So, after a lot of research, I went for it.  I knew there would be complications afterward, but incontinence was not something that I had anticipated being that big of a deal.  I thought I’d probably have to wear diapers for a couple of weeks and that would be the end of it. 

Boy was I wrong. 

Nine months later and I was still having a difficult time making it to the restroom.  It was so embarrassing as a man to face this problem. I couldn’t do the things I wanted to because I was scared of having an accident or a leak, and I felt ashamed of the bulky diapers that I was forced to constantly wear. 

I finally made an appointment with a surgeon in May to discuss a sling procedure and will be having the procedure done next month.  I’m hopeful that this will be a solution for me so that I can get on with my life and get back to doing the things that are important to me. 

Nick W., Houston, TX

Patient Perspective: Alice's Story

Alice's Story - Standing up to bladder leaks

It’s a funny thing, aging. I’m 68 years old, but I don’t feel any different than I did at 20. It happens so gradually really, but it feels like it comes out of nowhere. One day, you’re sitting there with your whole life ahead of you, and then suddenly, you’re walking along, you glance at your reflection and you see an old woman looking back at you. But you don’t feel any different. At least I didn’t. Until I started having bladder leaks.

My bladder leaks crept up on me just like getting old did. I had a few accidents here and there after kids, but didn’t start really noticing them regularly until I was in my late 50’s. I told myself I was too young to have this problem; that they weren’t that big of a deal and that I could manage it on my own.

The truth is, I was embarrassed. I didn’t want anyone to know about my leakage problem. I hid it well, or so I thought, but after a while, it started to weigh on me. Always packing a spare change of clothes, always scouting out the nearest bathroom in case of an emergency. It wasn’t until my daughter finally confronted me that I broke down.

I was visiting her at her house when I had an accident and had to change my pants. My daughter noticed and finally decided that enough was enough. She told me how she had watched me for years try to “hide” my problem, and urged me to get help. She also told me how she herself had talked with her doctor after her son was born and she had started experiencing leaks too. “The good news,” she said, “is that I’m doing so much better, and I hardly have any leaks at all anymore. I want that for you too, Mom.”

Talking to my daughter really opened up my eyes. She was right, and I couldn’t believe I had spent so long trying to hide the issue. Worse, I couldn’t believe she had gone through it too. If I had been open about it, maybe I could have offered some comfort to her, but instead she had had to deal with it on her own. I felt ashamed and embarrassed – not because of my bladder leaks, but because of my silence.

So, I decided to finally get help. After so many years of living with the problem, I didn’t realize how much it had taken over my life. And now that I’ve started taking medication for my bladder leaks, I am so much happier and freer.

I am 68, but the 20 year old still lives inside of me. And now, I can proudly say that I feel just as good today as I did back then.

Don’t wait to get help. Take the initiative to talk to your doctor and get the help you need. We can’t all do this alone and life is too short to let a day go by where this condition is controlling you. Suck up your pride, realize that we all need some help once in a while and just do it. I promise you, you’ll be so glad you did.

Alice B., San Jose, CA

How To Stop Waking Up At Night To Pee

How to stop waking up at night to pee.

Do you find yourself waking up more than once to use the bathroom at night? You may have nocturia, a condition that causes you to need to get out of bed to pee 2 or more times in one night. And while a couple extra trips to the bathroom may seem harmless, it can lead to fragmented, disrupted sleep, leaving you tired and cranky the next day. 

Below are 5 things you can try to stop those frequent trips to the bathroom at night.

#1 KEEP A BLADDER DIARY.

It may sound funny to track your bathroom visits, but a bladder diary is a great tool in identifying the culprits that may be causing you to use the bathroom more often at night. A bladder diary will track your fluid intake (type and amount), how often you use the bathroom during the day, how often you get up to use the bathroom at night, and whether or not that accompanies any bladder leakage.  Keep it for 4-7 days to help you spot any trends. This tool is also useful for your doctor so hang onto it and share it with him or her on your next visit.

Download the NAFC Bladder Diary for Nocturia Here!  

#2 MINIMIZE URINE PRODUCTION AT NIGHT

This one is pretty obvious, but it’s important. As we age, we tend to not be able to hold as much in our bladder, which can make us have to use the bathroom more often even if we’re drinking the same amount as we always have before. Be careful not to limit your fluids too much, but do watch what you’re eating and drinking in the few hours before bed to ensure you’re not falling asleep with an already too full bladder. 

  • Avoid excessive fluid intake 4-6 hours before bed (this includes both food and drinks)

  • Avoid caffeine after the morning and limit alcohol at night. Both alcohol and caffeine can make urine more acidic which can irritate the lining of the bladder, causing you to need the bathroom more frequently.

  • Empty your bladder before bed.

  • Take any medications that may act as diuretics earlier in the day if possible (check with your doctor on this first).

#3 REDISTRIBUTE FLUID

If your ankles or legs swell up during the day, the fluid that builds up then gets sent back into the bloodstream when you lie down to sleep, which increases your blood pressure. As a result, the kidneys start working overtime to create more urine so your body can flush the excess fluid out of your system, and consequently causing you to wake up to empty your bladder.  If you’re experiencing swollen ankles or legs, try some of these tips to help redistribute fluid throughout the day and minimize accumulation.

  • Elevate the legs periodically to avoid any fluid build up in the ankles and calves.

  • Use Compression Socks. These elastic stockings exert pressure against the leg while decreasing pressure on the veins, allowing fluids to be redistributed and reabsorbed into the bloodstream. (Check out these super cute ones from Vim&Vigr.)

#4 PRACTICE GOOD SLEEP HYGIENE.

Setting yourself up for a good nights sleep can help fight off insomnia, which may be part of the reason you’re up in the first place.  While waking up to go to the bathroom may be the culprit of your insomnia, it could also be that not being able to go or stay asleep could be contributing to nocturia. Many people only think they have to go to the bathroom at night but when they get up to go, they produce just a trickle. This may mean that insomnia, and not nocturia, is actually the culprit and can be caused by a host of different reasons. Be sure to practice good Sleep Hygiene to encourage a functional circadian rhythm (which is your body’s natural clock) and ensure you’re not sabotaging your own sleep. Check out the National Sleep Foundation’s article on sleep hygiene, which discuses the tips below in greater detail:

  • Limit daytime naps to 30 minutes

  • Avoid stimulants such as caffeine and nicotine close to bedtime.

  • Set a consistent sleep and wake time.

  • Exercise regularly (but not right before bed)

  • Avoid foods that may be disruptive right before sleep (like spicy or heavy, rich foods)

  • Reserve the bed for sleep and sex

  • Establish a regular relaxing bedtime routine

  • Keep your bedroom quite, comfortable, and dark.

#5 TALK TO YOUR DOCTOR

While the above tips may help ease your nocturia a bit, it’s usually a good idea to see a professional to treat your nocturia. Behavioral changes don’t always address the causes of nocturia. Nocturia is 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 curing, 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.

“Nocturia has always been hard to treat, but it is now recognized as more than just a symptom of another medical issue,“ says Dr. Donna Deng, Urologic Surgeon at The Permanente Medical Group, Kaiser Oakland Department of Urology.

Nocturia does sometimes have underlying causes so it’s important to get a thorough checkup done by your doctor to rule out any other conditions.

Download our guide to Preparing For Your Doctor Visit to help you talk to your doctor about nocturia. 

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!

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

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!

Life After Leaving The Closet

Six months ago I announced that I was ‘coming out of the closet’ regarding my health issue with Pelvic Organ Prolapse. Today I’m back to share how that decision has improved my life.

After dealing with POP symptoms for what seemed like an eternity, I finally decided to seek answers to my questions concerning this health condition. It took a fair amount of courage to face the fact that I needed help. It wasn’t an easy decision by any means because I tried to tell myself it was just part of the aging process and I would just have to ‘deal with it’ the best I could.

I’m here to tell you, that isn’t the case. No woman needs to suffer in silence or hide their health issues in a closet. I totally understand how reluctant some women are to talk about or be treated for this health issue. I grew up in the era when women’s health issues weren’t openly discussed among peers, but were generally relegated to a dark closet. However, times have changed and although some may not know it, there is hope and help for those who suffer with this malady. New treatment options occur on a daily basis that allows women to control, improve and repair this cryptic health condition. It’s time to openly discuss women’s health issues.

Although I tried to keep up with a daily exercise program prior to surgery, it became difficult because of the pressure and pain I was experiencing. Because of this I gained an extra 15 pounds in a very short period of time. It was a very depressing time for me. But, after the brief recovery from surgery in January I was once again able to exercise and follow a simple diet that resulted in my losing 22 pounds by mid-March.

My life today is one-hundred percent better than it was prior to my surgery. I can go for walks, out to dinner, and shopping without having to worry about what might happen.  If you suffer from Pelvic Organ Prolapse I encourage you to not hide in a closet or allow it define how you live your life. Take charge of your health. After all, there is a better life after leaving the closet!

Betty Heath

Did you miss Betty's original article about her surgery? Read it here!


betty+heath.jpg

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.

Six Things To Try Before You Visit Your Doctor For Incontinence

6 Things To Try Before You Visit Your Doctor For Incontinence

6 Things To Try Before You Visit Your Doctor For Incontinence

Whether you’ve just started experiencing bladder leaks, or have been dealing with them for a while, knowing how to manage incontinence can be difficult.  And even if you’ve scheduled an appointment to see your doctor, there are things you can do before speaking with him or her to start treating the problem.

This week we’re focusing on management techniques that don’t require a visit to your doctor. NAFC has a great guide on the website that will walk you through the steps of management and things to try to control bladder leaks. Check out all the steps below:

Step 1: Finding products to help you stay clean and dry

Step 2: Assess Your Condition

Step 3: Measure Your Pelvic Floor Strength

Step 4: Pelvic Floor Exercises

Step 5: Develop A Voiding Strategy

Step 6: Get Professional Help

It is possible that by performing the steps above, you may be able to reduce or even eliminate your symptoms on your own. At the very least, it will give you some good information to share with your doctor and your initial efforts will help them to get you on a course to a successful treatment plan.

Stay with us this week as we provide more tips on how to manage bladder leaks! 

Access the full guide above here, or download our printed brochure with the above tips from our Resource Center!

When To Seek Help For Bladder Leaks

When To Seek Help For Bladder Leaks

When To Seek Help For Bladder Leaks

Talking to someone about incontinence can be hard, (most people wait 7 years before seeing a doctor!) but it is often a necessary step in order to get the treatment you need. And while you may feel uncomfortable telling your doctor about your bladder leaks, remember that what you share with your doctor is likely something he or she has heard many times before. Incontinence is a very common (but not normal!) condition, and once you take the first step in opening up about it, it won’t seem as big of a deal as it may now.

So, how do you know it’s time to talk to someone? Hopefully, you’ve tried some of the tips we’ve discussed in the past (see our Step By Step Guide on things you can try). Often, making small changes to your behavior can make a big difference and can reduce or even eliminate symptoms of incontinence (aka - those pesky leaks or the constant visits to the bathroom).

If, after taking these steps you’re still having problems, it’s probably time to seek professional help. This is nothing to be ashamed of – different treatments work for different people. And the steps you’ve taken so far will help your doctor in determining a solution that might work better for you. So take notes during your self-treatment process and note what does and doesn’t make a difference. Then take them to your doctor and start the discussion.

Opening up about incontinence doesn’t have to be limited just to your doctor – your significant other, close friend or family may also be someone you’d like to share with. Don’t live with this condition in silence – many people who open up to loved ones learn that they are not alone – many other people experience urinary incontinence and it helps to be able to talk about it with those who understand.

Not only that, having someone in your corner as you make the changes needed to overcome and treat the bladder leaks can be invaluable. And, if you’re too nervous to talk to someone you know, there is always the NAFC Message Boards, which provide a safe place for you to share your concerns and thoughts with others like you.

So make that appointment, and follow along with us this week as we talk about how to talk with your doctor, and others, about incontinence!

Need an extra push to make a doctor's appointment? Sign up for our 8-Week Challenge

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Here are some other great posts to help you manage your incontinence and live a #LifeWithoutLeaks!

Accepting That You Have Incontinence

Types of Incontinence – The Break Down

Take The NAFC 8-Week Challenge

Men: Let’s Talk About Bladder Leakage

Why Incontinence Is A Condition We Need To Worry About

What You Can Do To Manage Bladder Leaks Before You See Your Doctor

Bladder Irritants And Your Diet

Finding An Absorbent Product That Works

Top 3 Things To Look For In An Absorbent Product

Three Things You Can Do Right Now to Fight Incontinence

Incorporating Pelvic Floor Exercises Into Your General Workout Routine

Patient Perspective: Why I No Longer Mind Wearing Adult Diapers

Patient Perspective: Why I No Longer Mind Wearing Adult Diapers.

Patient Perspective: Why I No Longer Mind Wearing Adult Diapers.

I’m a 48-year old man, and I wear adult absorbent briefs. Every day, every night. The problem started when I was around 40. I had always had some nighttime bedwetting issues, but they were rare and something I managed for most of my life with waterproof bedding.

But after I turned 40, I noticed I was having more and more frequent episodes at night. I tried wearing absorbent pads, but they still leaked, causing me to have to change my bed sheets almost 4 times a week. Then the problem started happening during the day – I just couldn’t hold it in long enough to make it to the bathroom.

I saw three doctors, and none of them could find a specific diagnosis for me to explain why I was having this problem. I spent at least a year in denial – foregoing protection because I was embarrassed, but running to the bathroom more often than I wanted. I brought extra clothes with me to work and to social functions “just in case”, and soon, started to limit outings as much as I could because I couldn’t face the prospect of having an accident in front of my family and friends.

I finally realized that if I wanted any semblance of a normal life, I needed to use protection. I did my research and tried out several types of absorbent products to find something that worked for me. (Turns out I use absorbent briefs for day and night, although my nighttime briefs are thicker for extra protection.) 

It used to bother me that I had to wear “diapers” but now, I don’t think about it at all. I’d rather know I am protected vs. having an accident in public. If you struggle with bladder leakage, just bite the bullet and find a product that works for you. In the end, you’ll be so relieved to know that “you’re covered”, and most people won’t even know you are wearing extra protection.

Mike W., Pensacola, FL

Want to share your own story? Enter it here! You may remain anonymous and your story may help inspire others dealing with incontinence issues to seek help!