Bladder control is not a topic we tend to discuss with others. We may joking say to our girlfriends or sisters, something like, “don’t make laugh so much, I’ll pee my pants”. But, I don’t recall ever sitting down with anyone, including my doctor, and having a serious conversation about bladder control. I’m a nurse, the rational side of me knows this happens to many men and women, including me, but I have never really had a frank discussion about Bladder Control Problems (BCP) with anyone.
Why don’t we talk more openly about bladder control issues? Well, I can only speak for myself, but frankly, I feel a bit embarrassed and also this feels like a private topic. Maybe I feel guilty for not being more vigilant with my postpartum Kegel exercises. I’m not sure the reason, I’m certain a psychiatrist or a psychologist could tell me, heck, they would have a field day probing my mind!
Anyway, it does happen, it has happened to me and it could happen to you. I first noticed BCP after my children were born. I guess that’s what 9 lb. 2 oz and 8 lb. 10 oz vaginal deliveries may do to you.
Millions of people experience BCP and unfortunately, many of these people feel it is simply a part of getting older, which it is not. The good news is, we are not alone. Approximately 3.3 million Canadians are affected by bladder control issues.
The following information is from an American study, but it translates well to Canadians and will give you a good idea of how common this problem is.
- Over 65 million Americans experience bladder leakage and nearly half of them are under age 50.
- This translates to about 1 in 4 Americans that may experience bladder leakage.
- Bladder leakage is not a condition that just affects older adults, 22.9 million Americans under the age of 45 experience also have some bladder leakage.
- That’s approximately three times the population of New York City.
- These numbers include both men and women, although women are about 3 times more likely to have any urine leakage than men.
This is a medical problem and nearly everyone can be helped. We don’t have to suffer in silence. (Geez, I hope my family doctor isn’t reading this or she’ll be peppering me with questions during my next visit!)
BCP affects both men and women at all stages of life. Why? Our bladder control is regulated by the interaction between the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord) and organs of the lower urinary tract (bladder, urethra, pelvic floor muscles). Therefore, any disease or trauma that involves any part of this control mechanism could affect bladder function. Such as:
- Parkinson’s disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Menopause (yup, something else to look forward to with menopause)
- Prostate enlargement
- Pregnancy and vaginal delivery
However, the majority of people with BCP have no clear symptoms of any neurological diseases or apparent damage to their lower urinary tract system.
This is the nurse in me talking now…did you know there are several kinds of urinary incontinence? Are you wondering about the different kinds of incontinence with the symptoms and potential causes? Are you too embarrassed or shy to ask?
Here they are:
- Loss of urine when you place pressure or ‘stress’ on your bladder
- Leakage when you sneeze, cough, laugh, exercise, or lift heavy items – (this is me)
- Causes may include: physical changes from childbirth, pregnancy, menopause, being overweight – (These are all me too, well except for the pregnancy. I am definitely not pregnant.)
- Sudden, intense urge to urinate – often followed by involuntary loss of urine – (I sometimes have this happen too)
- Sudden or frequent emptying of bladder; getting up two or more times per night to urinate – (I don’t do this but I know many people who do)
- Causes may include: bladder or urinary tract infections, bladder irritants, stroke, neurological diseases such as Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis
- Frequent or constant dribble of urine
- Feeling your bladder is never empty; sometimes only a weak stream of urine
- Causes may include: damaged bladder, blocked urethra, diabetes
- Inability to reach bathroom in time
- Physical or psychological impairment where you cannot reach the bathroom in time
- Causes may include: mobility limitations, pain with movement, medications, arthritis
Did you know that despite the high rate of BCP, only a small number of people will seek medical attention. (Hello, this is you and me! They’re talking about us.) Honestly though, we don’t need to suffer in private and constantly worry about bladder leakage. There are many treatments for bladder control issues and anyone who is experiencing BCP, should seek the advice of a health care provider.
In the meantime, if you are like me, in denial, and not willing to discuss this with your physician or other health care provider (which you and I should be doing) you don’t need to live in fear of embarrassing yourself.
I have used panty liners and pads, they are discreet, but sometimes they just don’t do the job! I had never before considered a full pair of incontinence briefs. I always felt they would be too bulky and noticeable. I want to be able to wear jeans, capris, dress pants and dresses with confidence and without some bulky towel like thing between my legs.
I recently had the opportunity to try the Depend® brand for adult incontinence. They offer a discreet and comfortable fit and the Depend® Underwear now has a new Fit-Flex protection, which features more Lycra strands to help give you the freedom and confidence you need. Depend® also provides a variety of options in different styles to help give those dealing with incontinence the freedom and confidence to wear their favourite clothes and be as active as you want.
Take a couple of minutes to check out this short video, see for yourself how Paula takes the weekend on with Depend® Incontinence Pro:
Millions of Canadians experience bladder control issues and worry they won’t be able to discreetly manage this common condition and enjoy active, fulfilling lives.
Remember, there is help out there, don’t be too embarrassed to ask for it. Together we can take away the stigma associated with BCP. Let’s be brave and speak with our physicians. In the meantime, we can continue to lead active and fulfilling lives. Know one will ever know that our “panties” are actually Depends!
If you have questions or are looking for more information on BCP or Depend® products, they have some awesome Q & A’s plus community support and product information on the Depend® website. If you would like to try Depend® for yourself, simply visit Depend® Free Sample. You may also want to follow along on Facebook and Twitter or check out some of the other video stories on YouTube.
“Disclosure: I am part of the Depend® Fit-Flex Blogger Campaign and I receive special perks as part of my affiliation with this campaign. The opinions on this blog are my own.”