I wouldn’t reveal this on a first date, but I can tell you: I have bladder leakage. I discovered it on a beautiful sunny day about eight years ago, when I was out shopping and could barely make it across Fifth Avenue without having a mortifying accident. Not many things embarrass or humiliate me, but that would rank right up there!
I thought, what better time to talk about bladder leakage than during National Bladder Awareness month, when we’re making plans for the holidays, and don’t want to let anything prevent us from having stress-free, joyous celebrations with the family and friends we love.
Meanwhile, back to my bladder awareness story. After my initial discovery on Fifth Avenue, I had the same dilemma a few more times, so I made an appointment with Dr. Alan Garely, who specializes in women’s urologic issues. The tests showed I had stress incontinence, and Dr. Garely prescribed a medication, which I’ve been taking daily since then. I typically don’t like the follow the masses, but in this case I sure do: Nearly 65 million Americans–including about 30 percent of women–experience bladder leakage of one form or another. Besides stressors such as coughing, sneezing or exercise, many other factors can trigger this condition, including (but not limited to): Smoking, drinking alcohol and caffeine; previous pregnancy and childbirth; medical conditions, including hypertension, and even spicy foods.
As if all these aren’t enough, menopause is another culprit of bladder leakage. Estrogen keeps the bladder lining healthy and strengthens the pelvic muscles by stimulating blood flow to the pelvic region, before menopause. Decreasing estrogen, however, weakens the connective tissues of the pelvis and urinary tract, which act as the supports to the bladder and urethra. This may prevent your pelvic muscles from keeping the opening of your bladder sealed, which invites unwanted leaks, especially when you cough, sneeze, or lift something heavy. The capacity of the bladder also decreases as we age, forcing us to go to the restroom more frequently. It can sometimes even be tough to get to the toilet in time.
The medication Dr. Garely prescribed works fairly well, but since it’s not perfect, I turned to additional protection in the form of underwear with extra padding. I’ve tried numerous disposable and non-disposable brands over the years, and the one I highly recommend is Depend®, not just because it makes me feel confident, comfortable and protected, but because it’s got style.
Yep, style, not something you’d normally associate with the incontinence products our grandmothers used (not that they ever discussed issues such as these!)
Depend® offers a number of looks, including Depend® Silhouette Active Fit Briefs, which now feature an improved, premium fabric that feels–and breathes–just like cotton. And, their silhouette is beautifully slim, making them “invisible” under everything from yoga pants to dresses in thin and fitted fabrics. The waist doesn’t bunch up, when you’re bouncing around in the gym or on the dance floor, and the slightly raised sides add to their flexibility when you bend and move. It’s extra nice that they come in beige, black or lavender, so they work with any color outfit you’re wearing.
I also like Depend® FIT-FLEX Underwear, for maximum absorbency, say when you’re out to dinner and a movie with that new man, sitting in wild holiday traffic, or standing in a ridiculously long line at the airport. This style features all-around leg elastics, close-to-body fit that doesn’t look or feel bulky, and Confidence Core technology for fast absorption and the ability to help lock away moisture.