10 Myths About Urinary Incontinence
10 Urinary Incontinence Myths
Bladder leaks are a frustrating fact of life for many people. Unfortunately, many urinary incontinence myths are widespread. It can be easy to spiral down into a WebMD rabbit hole or scroll through endless Google searches to find answers, but this often provides contradicting information that leaves you more confused than when you first began your search.
If this sounds familiar to you, that's OK. It's normal to want to separate fact from myth, but you can stop these endless online searches today. Here are facts about 10 urinary incontinence myths, so you can deal confidently with future leaks.
Myth #1: Bladder Leaks Are Uncommon
If you experience bladder leaks, you may feel alone in your struggles, but you shouldn't feel that way. Bladder leaks are very common, especially for women. About 50% of women experience leaks, and as many as 75% of women older than 65 report leaks. While men can also get bladder leaks, women experience bladder leakage more than men because reproductive events, such as pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are contributing factors.
Myth #2: Only Ladies of a Certain Age Get Bladder Leaks
While it's true aging-related changes can contribute to bladder leaks, women of all ages can struggle with them. A number of contributing factors can cause bladder leaks, including medications, pelvic floor injuries, exercising, coughing, laughing, sneezing, infections, neurological damage, surgery, and more. However, women's bodies produce less estrogen during menopause, which weakens the pelvic floor and can cause incontinence or overactive bladder.
Myth #3: Drinking Less Water Will Fix Urinary Issues
Drinking less water won't fix urinary issues but, instead, can exacerbate them and lead to other health problems. Dehydration concentrates your urine, which can irritate your bladder, trigger urges, and cause UTIs. In other words, not drinking enough can lead to the urinary issues you're trying to avoid.
Doctors generally recommend drinking water when you're thirsty, if your lips are dry, and if you're tired or dehydrated. If you wake often in the middle of the night, try shifting your water intake to earlier in the day so you can sleep uninterrupted. You can also try keeping a bladder diary to identify foods and liquids that may trigger leaks. You may be surprised that certain things in your diet, such as chocolate, affect your bathroom schedule.
Myth #4: To Deal With Urinary Leaks, You Can Use Feminine Hygiene Products like Tampons or Maxi Pads
Urine and blood are two very different liquids that absorb at different rates. Bladder leak products are built to absorb urine, which typically flows faster than menstrual blood. They are also designed to eliminate urine odor and neutralize its acidity, which can help reduce skin rashes and other discomfort caused by leaks.
You may be tempted to purchase menstrual products to deal with urine leaks, but incontinence products are more effective for bladder leaks. Menstrual products can lead to noticeable leaks or urine smells that affect your confidence in public. If it's all you have, you can use a regular pad until you get home, but this switching of products should only be used in dire emergencies where incontinence pads or underwear aren't available.
Myth #5: Fit and Healthy Women Don’t Get Leaks
Women of all shapes and sizes get bladder leaks. Weight gain and obesity do indeed play a role in bladder leaks for some women. Extra weight can put excess pressure on the pelvic floor and weaken it. However, while staying in shape is excellent for your overall health, exercise is one of the most common triggers for leaks. All the muscle strains, contractions, and physical exertions during your favorite workout class put a lot of pressure on the pelvic floor and may lead to a leak.
Myth #6: Only Women Who’ve Had Kids Experience Bladder Leaks
It's true that major reproductive events, such as pregnancy and childbirth can contribute to bladder leaks, but not all women who've had kids get them. There is no single prerequisite or life event that causes urinary incontinence. Urine leaks happen for a variety of reasons, such as habits, diet, lifestyle, life events, and experiences. The causes are different for everyone.
Myth #7: Doing Kegels Will Completely Fix the Problem
Kegels are one of the best at-home treatments for bladder leaks because they can help you strengthen your pelvic floor. They are often a great first step in treating leaks for many women. However, they're rarely the silver bullet many women hope they will be. Doing Kegels and other pelvic floor exercises in combination with lifestyle changes, such as adjusting your diet, is usually the best way to minimize leaks.
Kegels also aren't for everyone. Some women experience leaks due to hypertonic muscles, which means the muscles in their pelvic floor are too tight. These women might find Kegels increase the number of leaks they have, which is why it's crucial to figure out what's causing your leaks in the first place.
Myth #8: You Should Pee as Soon as You Have the Urge to Go
If you are going every time you have an urge, you're training your body that it's OK for urges to dictate your bathroom schedule. Since you don't always have access to a toilet, training your body and mind to work together without being ruled by urges could help prevent future leaks. One of the most common ways to do this is with bladder training. Bladder training means keeping a set schedule for bathroom trips. It works best for women with urge incontinence and is less effective for women with stress incontinence.
Myth #9: Just Pee, Even if You Don’t Have to Go
Peeing when you don't have to can break down the link between your brain and bladder. As a result, your body gets worse at deciding when you need to go. Easy access to a toilet can sometimes be a relief, but just because there's one nearby doesn't mean you should use it. Forcing yourself to pee when you don't have to go can put undue stress on the pelvic floor muscles and even cause pelvic prolapse, which may worsen leaks.
If you have urge incontinence, sticking to a routine bathroom schedule works better than peeing when you don't have to go. It helps train your body to urinate at set times without breaking down the link between your brain and bladder.
Myth #10: You Have to Deal With Pelvic Floor Issues Alone
Your bathroom habits can feel like a private matter, but everyone needs support now and then. While many people opt to deal with bladder leaks alone, a doctor, such as a urologist or urogynecologist, can help you find ways to deal with your leaks. Pelvic floor therapists can also guide you through different pelvic floor exercises and offer manual pelvic floor therapy to help realign and strengthen the muscles in your pelvis so they optimally function.
You may also find it helpful to work with a therapist familiar with urinary incontinence. This person can help you work through depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues that might be caused by bladder leakage. If you don't feel comfortable speaking with a therapist, consider opening up to a close friend or family member.
The Bottom Line
Bladder leaks are an unfortunate fact of life for many people. Once you separate fact from fiction, you can move forward with managing urinary incontinence in a way that makes you feel confident again. Remember you aren't alone in your battles with urinary incontinence. They can happen to anyone regardless of age, overall fitness, or gender.
You have several great ways to manage urinary incontinence. For example, you can use Nexwear's ultra-absorbent pads or underwear. These incontinence products are designed to give you the peace of mind you need while going about your day and the extra assurance nobody will know if you've had a little leakage while you're in public. The pads can be an excellent option if you tend to have small leaks from exercising or coughing. If your incontinence tends to be heavier, underwear may be a better option.
Live your life free of harmful urinary incontinence myths, and shop Nexwear today.