Have you ever leaked a little bit whenever you laughed too hard? Or on your morning run? Or just sneezed? Sometimes it’s a few small drips and sometimes it can turn into a small stream. If this sounds like you, you may be suffering from Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI). There are plenty of contributing factors into why you may be experiencing leaks: past surgeries, being overweight, smoking habits, and pregnancy are all factors that could be causing them. The good news? You’re not alone. An estimated 15 million adult women experience light bladder leaks in America alone. This also means that there have been plenty of solutions researched, created, and developed to help women improve their quality of life and reduce leaks.
What are Kegels?
Light bladder leaks occur because the pelvic floor muscles and surrounding tissues and nerves are damaged or weakened, causing a urethral shift or the inability of the sphincter to shut off correctly at the bladder (ISD). The obvious solution comes to mind when the cause of stress incontinence is explained – simply strengthen and restore lost muscle mass in the pelvic floor. Kegels are exercises to strengthen those muscles. Here is a step-by-step guide to perform Kegels properly and effectively:
- Locate the muscle – The best way to locate the correct muscle is to go to the bathroom and stop urination mid-stream. Pay attention to the muscles you engage to do this – those are the pelvic floor muscles we’re meant to engage.
- Test Your Squeeze – If you’re comfortable, test to see if you’re engaging the right muscles with your fingers (you should feel yourself contract). There are also devices that can connect with your smartphone to measure and monitor that you’re performing Kegels the right way. If you’re not sure if you’re right, talk to your doctor or gynecologist.
- Hold it – Squeeze the muscle for 5 seconds, release for 5, and repeat. Once you have the practice of it down, Kegels are an easy addition to your daily routine. You can do them anywhere, anytime.
Women have found that practicing these exercises may help reduce bladder leaks and facilitate healing after surgery or childbirth.
Cons of Kegels
While Kegels are a natural and easy way to help strengthen the pelvic floor and reduce bladder leaks, there are a few downsides to them. For one, Kegels are just like any other exercise. It takes time, patience, and practice to see results. It’s also important to remember to make them part of a daily regimen for the most effective and quickest results, which some women may have trouble incorporating into their day. While doing Kegels are mostly beneficial for women to do regardless of their urinary problems, if you’re experiencing vaginismus, Kegels are advised against.
While Kegels are certainly one solution for women who experience light bladder leaks, often times a more immediate solution is needed to protect against them. Pads and liners that are made for incontinence can quickly absorb and hide leaks and can be thrown away for easy cleanup. While simple and mostly effective, pads and liners can become an expensive recurring purchase. In addition, these products are often made with nonbiodegradable materials and chemicals that can impact our environment. Receiving a pelvic sling surgery is another option for women that want to reduce the involuntary loss of urine. There are two kinds:
Mid-urethral: A thin piece of mesh is inserted under the urethra. While this type of procedure is common, the FDA has ordered mesh manufacturers to stop production and distribution out of concern for public safety.
Traditional: Instead of a manufactured piece of mesh to support the urethra, an organic piece of tissue is taken from the stomach or thigh to create the sling.
Both procedures are common and simple, with the mid-urethral being an outpatient procedure and the traditional only being a one-night hospital stay. Surgery does open up the risk for other health complications such as infection at the incision points or internally, or complications with the sling itself. In addition to healthcare costs and recovery time, some women find that the surgical option is too expensive or risky.
With the expenses, complications, and risks of surgery and other options for light bladder leaks, women are in need of a solution that is effective and safe. Revive™ is the new bladder support device researched and designed from the women’s health company Rinovum. Created to fit in the vaginal tract comfortably for bladder support and up to 12 hours of wear a day, Revive is reusable, and is easy to retrieve and clean for use. The device itself is one size that fits most women so that there are no sizing problems. FDA-cleared for over-the-counter use, Revive is simple to use and can help discretely reduce leaks all day. Now available at retailers nationwide!