Urinary incontinence is one of the last things we want to talk about, but one of the most common problems that women face. But we often don’t think about how these little leaks can impact different aspects of a woman’s life, such as relationships, self-esteem, and social life.
What are Light Bladder Leaks?
So, what do we mean when we say “light bladder leaks?” There are two main kinds of urinary incontinence that women experience: Stress Urinary Incontinence (SUI) and Urge Incontinence (UI). SUI differs from UI in that those with UI experience the sudden urgency to go that may result in a leak or loss of urine, while SUI sufferers experience a leak when the bladder or urinary tract is put under pressure or “stress.” The pressure can be minimal, as small as a sneeze or a laugh, that can trigger a leak that ranges from a few small drips to a stream enough to show through clothing. SUI can occur in both women and men but is more likely to occur in women. This is due to hormonal changes, childbirth, and the size of the female urethra compared to the male allows for higher damage risk. There are other lifestyle and health factors that may cause SUI, and some women may experience a combination of one or more.
Obesity – Women who are overweight or obese inherently carry more weight on the bladder, thus putting it under more pressure and stress over time. A high weight has also been linked to developing diabetes, which may cause nerve damage and lead to incontinence.
Smoking – Women who smoke tend to cough more than non-smokers, and a chronic cough over time may damage the muscles and nerves from the repeated jarring. In addition, cigarettes and other tobacco products are known bladder irritants and are linked to bladder cancer which may lead to SUI or other types of incontinence.
Past Surgeries – Those who have received a surgery like a hysterectomy are more likely to experience SUI, even after recovering.
Muscle or Nerve Damage – This damage can occur for a variety of reasons from childbirth to years of high-impact activities.
While SUI is common, as mentioned before it is often not talked about, even to our family and friends. This may lead to isolation and loss of relationships and support when it’s needed most.
To avoid embarrassing moments when dealing with stress incontinence, some women’s social life becomes the first to be sacrificed. It is easier to avoid public gatherings and fun nights out than it is to prepare for the worst. There are several aspects of experiencing light bladder leaks that can lead to the eventual deterioration of a woman’s social life: lowering of self-esteem, isolation, and loneliness are both causes and effects of SUI.
Self-Esteem – Incontinence problems are obviously embarrassing and can impact confidence in a woman. But lowered self-esteem can affect friendships, romantic, and familial relationships, as well.
Isolation – As mentioned before, some women simply avoid social situations just to avoid embarrassing leaks and cleanups in public settings. But people are social by nature and complete avoidance of social gatherings is not good for mental health.
Loneliness – Some women may not be alone in the literal sense, but may feel lonely in dealing with their bladder leaks. Some find it difficult to discuss it family, friends, and even their doctor, thus causing them to feel that it is their problem to deal with alone.
What You Can Do
There are several options for women that are experiencing bladder leaks, and those who know someone that is going through it. If you know someone who experiences the occasional leak (chances are that you do), it’s important to show your support. Support can manifest itself in all sorts of ways – words of encouragement and understanding, doing research and caring about what they’re going through, or by helping them change or conceal leaks. For women experiencing SUI, there are several options to help reduce or cover up bladder leaks. The most common is incontinence pads or undergarments. These products are meant to either line or replace the underwear and quickly absorb any urine that is expelled during a leak. The liners or garments are usually disposable, but there are reusable options available. Some women that are experiencing bladder leaks post-menopause may talk to their doctor about hormonal creams or medication solutions. This may help replace any lost estrogen, help line the urethra, and can help reduce leaks. A more serious option that women may consider to stop leaks is pelvic sling surgery. This is when a doctor takes a sling made out of either organic material from the patient or a donor or a piece of mesh and surgically places it to support the bladder. A surgical option, of course, comes with the risk of complications and post-surgical infections and can be costly. The FDA has also ordered that pelvic mesh companies stop production and distribution of their products out of concern for public safety.
A Girl’s Best Friend: Revive™
Another solution for women that experience leaks is the new bladder support device from the women’s health company Rinovum. Rinovum has developed a one-size-fits-most product that women can wear comfortably and safely for up to 12 hours a day of leak protection because it is designed to work with the female anatomy. This revolutionary product is called Revive, and it is FDA-cleared for over-the-counter use. Revive is reusable, easy, and effective and is available at retailers nationwide.