It’s that time of year again. Kids are going back to school. Do you remember wondering – “Am I wearing the right clothes?” “Will I make new friends?” “Is my teacher going to be nice or mean?” Getting an education can be exciting and a bit nerve racking. The same is true when beginning your education about LBL.
If you’ve read my previous posts, you already know there are things you can do to manage, reduce and sometimes even eliminate light bladder leakage. Even so, getting started can bring back those see-saw feelings from your school days. Maybe you feel excited to get answers from your doctor, but nervous you’ll be judged when you bring it up. Or perhaps you feel hopeful about strengthening your pelvic floor, but are worried that Kegel exercise won’t help. And you may find yourself feeling bold as you walk down the feminine hygiene aisle to buy LBL-specific pads, but shy about going through the checkout counter. Here are some helpful tips to get past the jitters when starting your LBL Education
1. Get help with homework. There was no Internet to help with homework when we were kids, but today a quick Google search can give us answers to questions like, “What kind of doctor should I see for LBL?” “How do I talk to my doctor about such a sensitive topic?” and “What questions should I ask?” (All those questions are answered in this article "Who’s On Your Team.”) Whenever you feel stuck or unsure about how to handle LBL, reach out to a medical professional, your girlfriends (one in three women experience LBL) and supportive resources online.
2. Practice, practice, practice. You probably didn’t master algebra on the first day of school. So, don’t expect to master Kegels or other pelvic floor strengthening exercises immediately. It may take a teacher (a pelvic floor physical therapist for example) along with practice and patience to identify the right set of muscles to squeeze before you see results. When you put consistent practices into place, you set yourself up to succeed.
3. The quickest way to overcome fear is action. After an embarrassing LBL moment, it’s easy to retreat from activities you once loved. Sitting on the sidelines isn’t the answer. Become your own cheerleader. Encourage yourself to overcome obstacles. Pack a “just-in-case” bag should a leak happen, and get back in the game. For some added encouragement, listen to my podcast "Get Up and Out."
4. Everyone’s body is different. You probably discovered in the locker room of gym class that all female bodies do not look the same. The same is true on the inside. Every woman’s body is different. What causes LBL in one woman can be very different for another. While medication may be the right choice for your friend, it could be the wrong choice for you. There are non-medical and non-surgical ways of managing leaks that work well for some but not for others. Getting advice specific to your body from a medical expert will help you discover the cause and best treatment options for you. For a list of treatment options, read “The LBL Treatment Spectrum.”
5. Just because someone says it, doesn’t make it true. There are a lot of myths about aging and LBL. The truth is women of all ages can experience light bladder leakage. At different points in your life like pregnancy and perimenopause, dips in hormone levels can make LBL symptoms worse. Sometimes high impact physical activities weaken the pelvic floor and bring it on regardless of your age. (Read LBL in Young Women and Athletes for more information.) Even unlikely things like smoking, the foods you eat, medications, and chronic coughs can contribute to it. To clear up any misinformation you might have about LBL and aging read, “Age Related Leakage Myths.”
What about you? What’s the best lesson you’ve learned about managing LBL?