National Incontinence is America’s source for bladder control products.
10 Common Myths About Incontinence
- Incontinence is just a normal part of getting older.
- Childbirth caused irreversible problems "down there."
- Prostate surgery leaves most men incontinent.
- You just have to live with it.
- I'm too old to do anything about it.
- My urine leakage is not something that I should bring up at my check-ups.
- Kegel exercises don't work for someone like me.
- If I leak during my pregnancy, it's a sign that I'm destined to always have this problem.
- I don't have incontinence. I just don't drink much, and I avoid any lifting and going places where I won't be close to a bathroom.
- The best solution is to just use a sanitary napkin in my underwear everyday.
While it's true that the decrease of estrogen that occurs during menopause may play a role in bladder control, it is not true that you are destined to have urine leakage once you reach a certain age. The muscles that are part of your pelvic floor can be strengthened just like your biceps or quadriceps. They're just a little more difficult to locate and can't be seen, like your arm or leg muscles.
The added weight and pressure of pregnancy can weaken pelvic floor muscles. A temporary loss of bladder control after childbirth often goes away by itself in the first 6 weeks. An episiotomy and damage to the bladder control nerves can make it more difficult to regain continence without extra work. Mention continued lack of bladder control to your doctor. Once your doctor determines why leakage is occurring, effective treatments can help you regain the control that you once had.
Some men experience temporary incontinence as they recover from prostate surgery. Up to 10% may experience incontinence 6 months after surgery. This is more common in those who were incontinent before the operation, have diseases of the nervous system or have had previous surgeries. Even in these cases, medical treatments can improve the outcome.
You should not suffer in silence. In most cases, urinary incontinence can be greatly reduced or eliminated. Treatment can consist of behavioral therapies, medications or in a few cases, surgery, to alleviate underlying problems.
For both women and men, there is no cut-off age as to when treatment can be effective. Talking to your doctor and determining the cause of the problem is the first step. Some simple behavioral modifications such as timed voiding, decreasing caffeine intake, changing other medications, and having regular bowel movements can make a difference.
Many people look back and realize that their incontinence has been gradually getting more frequent over the last few years. Seeking treatment when incontinence is mild can save years of embarrassment. Your health care provider can recommend treatments that are appropriate for you or refer you to someone who specializes in incontinence.
Exercising the pelvic floor muscles will provide improved incontinence in the majority of those who do them consistently and correctly. Isolating the correct muscle is difficult for some, especially if the muscles have become very weak. Having an exercise plan and sticking to it makes a difference in results. Exercise aides, like pelvic floor trainers, vaginal weights or personal biofeedback devices, can assist with doing the exercises correctly.
Some women are able to trace the beginning of their incontinence to the time when they were pregnant. However, strengthening the pelvic floor muscles can be effective, whether it's soon after childbirth, or months or years later.
Admitting that you are changing your lifestyle to accommodate potential leaking situations can be a sign of incontinence. Fluids are important for staying healthy so severely restricting your intake can be harmful. Mentioning this to your doctor is important. There may be recommended treatments that can help you live life to its fullest.
If you find that you need daily protection, it is healthiest to use products specially designed to collect and hold urine. The polymers used to absorb urine are different that those designed to absorb blood. In many cases, the top layer is also different and prevents the local irritation that develops after using sanitary products for urine collection.