Although urinary incontinence affects more than 25 million people in the United States, it isn’t a very popular subject to talk about. And because of this miscommunication, there are many misconceptions about the condition. Below, we dispel five of the most common myths about incontinence:
Myth: Urinary incontinence affects only elderly adults.
Fact: While elderly adults are more affected by urinary incontinence, the condition is non-discriminatory and actually affects people of all ages. A teen may experience bladder loss due to a spinal cord injury and a man in his 40’s may lose control over his bladder due to diabetes. Incontinence is a symptom of an underlying medical issue – contact your doctor to determine the cause and methods of treatment.
Myth: Urinary incontinence cannot be treated.
Fact: From pelvic floor exercises to diet changes, treatments for urinary incontinence are plentiful. Treatments are based on the type of incontinence you have and what’s causing it. Those with urge incontinence or an overactive bladder should consider bladder retraining, use a timed voiding schedule, and maybe even try medication.
Myth: Drinking less water will help with incontinence.
Fact: Drinking less water leads to dehydration, which can lead to concentrated urine and an irritated bladder. If you have urinary incontinence, don’t curb your water intake. However, do cut back on bladder irritants, such as alcohol, coffee and carbonated drinks.
Myth: Kegel exercises aren’t for men.
Fact: If you’re a man, don’t fret – you can do kegels too! Kegel exercises, which help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles and are great for stress incontinence, can be done by both men and women. To do a kegel, first locate your pelvic floor muscles by stopping your urine midstream. The muscles you just contracted are the muscles you’ll use to do your kegels. Now squeeze your kegel muscles and hold it for several seconds. Repeat this process for about 15 minutes a day. You can do kegels while sitting or standing – no one will even notice!
Myth: A woman’s bladder will never recover after childbirth.
Fact: Women who experience bladder problems after childbirth are not doomed for eternity. Each woman is different but most do regain bladder control several weeks or months after birth. The process takes great patience and daily kegel exercises. Ask your doctor or gynecologist what other things you can do to reduce symptoms. You can even wear thin, absorbent pads to help manage sudden leaks.
Myth: When it comes to incontinence, traveling is out of the question.
Fact: Incontinence can be frustrating to manage, but it doesn’t mean you can’t take a vacation and have fun! You just need to be prepared at all times. This means being aware of the closest restrooms, wearing the right incontinence undergarment, doing kegels and drinking plenty of water.