Some of us find it difficult to talk about bladder leakage with anyone – our moms, mates, friends – even our health care provider. Leaks can feel like they’re just too embarrassing to mention, and are viewed as a “private” matter to be dealt with discreetly on one’s own. Much like the way menstruation may have been discussed in hush-hush tones when you were a teen, so it may be for you and bladder leaks. Yet, almost all women have questions about this and other changes that occur to our bodies as we age. We wonder: do others face similar struggles? What are the most common causes? Are there prescription-based solutions? And what about the over-the counter ones, like Poise® Impressa® Bladder Supports? Are they safe? Doctor approved?
Some women just want to share how they feel about the physical challenges they experience; hormonal shifts, changing skin, thinning hair, and yes, loss of bladder control. They want to know if others have leaks while working out, sneezing or during sex – and what they can do about it. Still others want to talk about how their relationships have been affected by leakage and need some advice about how best to deal with that challenge. Whatever the topic, we all know that confronting issues with others tends to make us feel less alone, and it makes the challenges less stressful. I encourage you to share and connect – you’ll be surprised how helpful simply talking to others can be.
Gynecologists, internists, physical therapists and psychologists are just a few of the health care professionals you might turn to discuss bladder leakage. Remember, they’ve heard it all. It’s part of their training. Leakage, to them, is just one among a list of natural biological challenges faced by women – like menstruation, fertility, menopause – and they know these have both emotional and physical consequences. They are experienced and skilled in helping women deal with their specific needs in a healthy way. Remember, these healthcare practitioners have studied female anatomy and can use that knowledge to help you understand what is happening to your body.
One of my patients told me she felt “too young” to have bladder leaks. She was 40 years old at the time, and I told her that age wasn’t the only factor involved. I encouraged her to get checked out by her gynecologist, who confirmed that there were other causes contributing to leaks and that for her, three vaginal deliveries probably made her more vulnerable to them. The visit confirmed that age was less a factor in her case and this information helped her move forward with less anxiety. Speaking to a professional can help women gain a sense of control, understand the causes and solutions to leakage and gain a sense of confidence. Education is empowering.
Another patient had become withdrawn and isolated because of leaks. I encouraged her to talk to her husband about it, since it was affecting her relationship with him, her children, and grandkids. For example, she no longer wanted to go out dancing, an activity they used to enjoy together. Her husband was confused by her reluctance, believing she had lost interest in sharing activities with him. Once she admitted that it was her anxiety about losing bladder control, they both explored ways for her to deal with the issue at hand. Her husband, relieved he was not the source of her discomfort, searched the Internet and found solutions.
You may be convinced that you are uniquely challenged by bladder leakage, but with millions of women of varying ages dealing with this issue, you’re far from alone. There is now quite a lot of information out there being shared by peers and experts, and professionals who can offer you expert opinions are always available. Just start the conversation with your health care provider and you may find yourself feeling better soon.