Despite the fact that humans are social creatures by nature, we tend to shut down and isolate ourselves when we’re dealing with personal problems. During transitional phases, changes in physical or mental health, or even just a rough day, when we should be connecting and communicating how we feel, is when we tend to shut down the most. We convince ourselves that we can handle it on our own, that our problems shouldn’t have to bother anyone else. In reality, human connection and support are vital to remaining happy, healthy, and maintaining quality of life. Of course, this is easier said than done, especially with embarrassing and personal problems like light bladder leaks. While opening up about your LBL may be embarrassing, it can also help you find new solutions and help your loved ones understand what you’re going through. With that being said, there are tips and tricks we can use that make the initial connection less painful and embarrassing so that you can start communicating with friends, family, and medical professionals more efficiently.
What are Light Bladder Leaks?
So, what exactly are these light bladder leaks? Technically, there are five common types of urinary incontinence, but one of the most common is Stress Urinary Incontinence, or SUI. SUI can be described as the involuntary loss of urine whenever the bladder, abdomen, or urinary tract is put under pressure or “stress”. Usually, what triggers these leaks is some sort of action or motion. For example, people with SUI likely experience leaks when they run, cough, sneeze, laugh, or lift something. The leak size varies from a couple of drops to a full-on stream. Stress incontinence develops due to the weakening or damage to the pelvic floor, which can occur due to medical conditions, lifestyle choices, or surgical procedures. Common risk factors for developing light bladder leaks associated with SUI include:
Sex – While both men and women can develop light bladder leaks from SUI, women are more likely to experience them. Anatomically, the urethra is shorter in women than it is in men, increasing the likelihood of it being bent or damaged throughout the course of a lifetime.
Weight – Those who are overweight or obese add extra weight and pressure to the urinary tract and pelvic floor over time, weakening it and perhaps resulting in leaks.
Childbirth – Women who have delivered vaginally or had an emergency c-section (went through labor intending to deliver vaginally) often experience stress incontinence. LBL after pregnancy can manifest in the post-delivery months or years after the baby is born.
Menopause – As estrogen production is lessened during perimenopause and in menopause, some women experience leaks. This is because estrogen is used in the urinary tract to help line the tissue that supports the urethra.
Surgery – Surgical procedures that interfere with the pelvic floor and surrounding tissues can lead to LBL. These kinds of procedures include hysterectomies, prostatectomies, or surgical procedures to remove cancerous cells in the case of rectal, cervical, or bladder cancer.
Support is Important
Obviously, urinary incontinence is not a hot topic to discuss at your next dinner party, but it is important that you share what you’re going through with someone. According to The Obstetrics and Gynaecology Online Library, women who experience urinary incontinence have worse quality of life than their dry counterparts. In addition, the article notes that “Urinary incontinence commonly leaves the sufferer with psychological morbidity, particularly depression.”
Unfortunately, depression and social support go hand-in-hand. Social support and interaction are vital to helping symptoms of depression, but depression drives individuals to further isolate and cut others off. According to Psych Central, social support is critical for depression recovery because it:
Curbs Feelings of Isolation – Depression, and isolation work together in a nasty cycle to bring you down and keep you from your loved ones. Being isolated can cause depression, and depression causes us to isolate ourselves. While forcing yourself to finally open up, or send that message, or go to that open house might seem scary and impossible, the reality is that humans crave interaction and need it to live healthy lives.
Helps Find Solutions – The classic mom quote “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me what’s wrong.” is actually pretty valid. How can anyone help you if you can’t explain what’s wrong? Sometimes our problems just need a fresh set of eyes to find new solutions.
Of course, as we’ve mentioned before, reaching out and getting help not just for bladder leaks, but the emotional and mental struggles that come with it, is way easier said than done. That being said, if you find yourself struggling with light bladder leaks, but not really sure how to start a discussion to find solutions and curb feelings of low self-esteem and depression associated with SUI, we have some tips for you!
Talk to Your Doctor! – If you start to notice light bladder leaks occurring more often and are starting to impact quality of life, schedule an appointment with your doctor or healthcare professional. They can work with you to properly diagnose your leaks (making sure that there isn’t a more serious health condition causing them) and find solutions that work for you, your lifestyle, and your budget.
Women Support Women – No one supports women better than other women! Try reaching out to another woman in your life that you know and trust – a friend from church, your sister-in-law, hairdresser, etc. Not only will they support what you’re going through physically and mentally, but they may be experiencing LBL too.
Know You’re Not Alone – Those with SUI may find some relief in knowing that it’s actually pretty common, and whatever you’re experiencing, others are too. In fact, some reports cite that up to 1 in 3 women suffer from leaks at some point in their lives.
If you or another woman you know is suffering from SUI, try Revive®! Revive is a reusable bladder support device that is inserted by the user to internally support the bladder and reduce leaks for up to 12 hours a day. The one-size-fits-most pessary device is FDA-approved for over-the-counter use without a prescription and is easy to insert and remove. Find yours online, or at a retailer near you!