Finally! It was time for a break. Long meetings stretch my patience and my bladder. The moment a break was called, women from every corner of the room made a beeline to the bathroom. “There they go,” I heard a male voice comment. By the time I reached the restroom, the line was far outside the door. You could hear crickets outside the men’s room door. To distract myself from an urgent need to go, I chatted with the women in line, swapping business cards with a potential new client. My friend Lisa noticed the exchange and said, “Men do business on the golf course. Women do business waiting in line to use the restroom.”
That got me thinking: we women are resourceful. Each of us seems to have our own unique way of managing sensitive needs. Some of us take a head-on approach, like Shawne, who announced the bathroom break by saying, “I’ve got to pee something fierce, let’s take a quick ten minute break.” Others develop understated ways of managing bladder issues, like a woman I work with who stopped mid-sentence and said, “Marilyn, can I phone you back? I have something urgent I need to attend to.” I had no clue that it was incontinence-related until she confided in me afterward. Managing Light Bladder Leakage (LBL) at work becomes so much easier when women share their strategies with each other. That’s why I polled women in my circle (I’m bold like that) to find out how they deal with bladder issues on the job. Here are their top tips:
Scout out alternative restrooms before you need to go. There’s more than one set of bathrooms in most hotels, office buildings, and conference centers. When you’re heading off to a meeting, client site, or training, arrive a few minutes early and locate restrooms in alternative areas of the building so you can sail past those long lines.
Monitor workplace food and drinks. Grab-and-go meals and vending machine treats have a way of adding pounds, which contribute to LBL. Coffee and soda are the go-to drinks on the job for a quick kick of caffeine. The problem is it can also kick your bladder into overdrive. Water is a good alternative; however, too much can send you running to the restroom. And drinking too little water leads to concentrated urine, which can aggravate your bladder even more. Find that sweet spot of not-too-little and not-to-much that’s just right for your body.
Put systems in place. Leaks can happen unexpectedly. Instead of waiting and worrying, create daily habits to help manage and minimize those LBL moments. Create a daily routine (consult with a medical professional such as a pelvic floor physical therapist) to help train your bladder to go at specific time intervals. Cue in a colleague to step in for you when heading to the restroom. Designate specific spots, like a zippered compartment in your purse, to store pads and an extra pair of underwear.
Talk to your employer. Rather than have management and coworkers jump to conclusions, explain why you’re heading off to the restroom so often. Not sure what to say? It can be as simple as, “I have an issue with my bladder that requires me to use the restroom frequently.” Let your manager know how you plan to manage your time around it and make requests that would help you be more productive on the job.
Be your own kind of bold. When you read that Shawne announced to a room full of men and women, “I have to pee something fierce,” you may have thought, “I could NEVER do that!” It may help to know that nothing bad happened to her as a result. She used the restroom, and her presentation continued. Consider what would be bold for you? If you were to be five percent bolder in managing LBL what would you do? Even a small step in a positive direction will move you forward.
Do you have a tip to add to this list? Please share how you manage LBL at work. --