Once upon a time you could hold in your urine for hours on end, until quite suddenly, you were horrified to feel some leaking while you jumped around in exercise class one fine day! At first, you ignored it, but it happened again, at the gym, and then when you sneezed. You’re embarrassed to tell anyone, including your doctor, but you’re worried about what’s going on.
What’s probably going on is that you have a condition called “light bladder leakage,” or “urinary incontinence,” but you’ll be glad to know that you’re far from alone. LBL is extremely common, affecting as many as 30 percent of American women. It should also please you to know that the problem often is quite treatable.
Besides stressors such as coughing, sneezing or exercise, many other factors can trigger bladder leakage, including (but not limited to):
As if all these aren’t enough, menopause is another culprit of LBL. Before menopause, estrogen keeps the bladder lining healthy and strengthens the pelvic muscles by stimulating blood flow to the pelvic region. 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.
Where you CAN exert control
Although you obviously can’t control the fact that you gave birth or had a hysterectomy, and surely don’t want to stop taking medications that are doing you good, you can take other steps to keep light leakage in check. Here are five of the most important:
1. The wonders of water
While you want to avoid carbonated drinks, especially those with artificial sweeteners, as well as limit your daily alcohol intake to a couple of glasses of wine or a chilled super-dry martini, you want to make sure to drink 8, 8-ounce glasses of water each day. We all know about the great benefits of H2O, from helping to transport nutrients to the body to eliminating toxins; from lubricating our joints to keeping our skin looking clear and fresh.
However, if you drink too much water, you could be inviting bladder leakage, and if you drink too little, you could irritate your bladder and urethra, which will actually cause more leakage. Instead, drink small amounts of water steadily throughout the day to help prevent you from overtaxing your bladder while also helping you stay adequately hydrated.
2. The woes of weight
Significant weight gain might contribute to pelvic floor weakness, not to mention other health issues, such as heart disease and stroke. If you’re at least 20 pounds overweight, it would be wise to see your doctor, or a certified nutritionist, to help you create an eating program that will help you take some of it off!
3. The advantages of activity
Just because you’ve noticed an increase in bladder leakage when you exercise doesn’t mean you should cut back physical activity. Instead, get to a bathroom right before you exercise and take breaks during your routine.
4. The sins of smoking
If you can’t stop smoking for any other reason, do it to save your life!
5. Wearever wherever you are
We wore sanitary napkins and tampons when we had our periods. Not very stylish. Now we can attend to our LBL symptoms and be fashionable at the same time. Wearever panties, our faves, have inner linings and slim, hidden pads built into their crotches that wick moisture away from our bodies, and quickly absorb it, so we stay comfortable.
Wearever’s pretty styles come in soft prints, solids, and lacy numbers. They’re made of fabrics including nylon, cotton blends and polyester and will keep you dry when you experience light bladder leakage. Even better, they last up for up to 250 washes.
At $15.00 for a single pair, and less per pair for a pack of three, we can save an average of $500 a year compared to the cost of disposable pads, panty liners or adult diapers. That’s a big savings!
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This post is sponsored by Wearever. Thanks for supporting FabOverFifty!