For those new to or frequently experiencing a loss of urine when you sneeze, cough or exercise, it may be a perplexing issue. Why does my bladder leak? Do I have a problem with my bladder? What do I do?
Why We Leak?
To help you better understand what is happening ‘down there’ we’d like you to think of your anatomy as a water balloon. The body of the balloon (filled with water) is your bladder, the spout is your urethra, and the knot that keeps the water from escaping represents your pelvic floor muscles.
Over time, the knot of the balloon begins to slacken and loses its ability to hold water in when pressure is applied to the body of the balloon. The same can be said about a woman’s anatomy. As you age and your body undergoes pregnancy or menopause, your pelvic floor muscles (similar to the knot of a water balloon) lose their ability to hold urine in when force is applied to the bladder during activities such as laughing, sneezing, or running.
This animation shows what happens to an incontinent woman’s bladder when she sneezes:
Stress Urinary Incontinence: Name it to Tame it
The condition is known as stress urinary incontinence (SUI) and it is prevalent among new moms and baby boomer women, but many women experience a little urine leakage throughout their lives. According to Urogynecologist, Dr. Toni Harris, urinary incontinence is so common that 1 in 4 women experience it at some point in their lifetime. Regardless of when it starts, women need to understand what is happening to their bodies and what steps they can take to deal with the issue.
Unfortunately, most of these women won’t talk about their bladder leakage because of feelings of embarrassment and shame. As a result, treatment is often not sought until about two years after symptoms first appear. Using period pads or pretending that it won’t happen only makes the mental part of stress urinary incontinence worse.
Taking Action Against Bladder Leaks:
The first step to taking back control of your body is to discuss the issue with your doctor. Once your doctor understands your symptoms, he or she will be able to determine the type of incontinence, severity and what treatment options will work best for you. One reason many women may be reluctant to seek care for SUI is because they fear that surgery may be the only solution. Once educated on the options, women can choose from a variety of treatments that work with their situation and lifestyle.
Kegels + Finess
One treatment option that most gynecologist and urogynecologist recommend is pelvic floor exercise; more commonly known as kegels. Performing kegels requires very little effort, but you do need to make a commitment to do them regularly for them to help. To do a kegel simply squeeze in your pelvic muscles for a few seconds and release. As your muscles get stronger you will find it easier to squeeze for longer periods of time.
Although kegels are a great alternative to surgery, you will want another form of protection to keep you dry while you build those pelvic muscles. Women often settle for irritating, bulky pads that simply absorb urine and hold it next to their skin. This method is uncomfortable and can cause anxiety over leak accidents. Fortunately, there is a new incontinence solution that stops bladder leaks before they even happen. Finess is a small, soft, disposable patch that you place over the urethral opening to block bladder leaks. Instead of holding urine in a pad, Finess stops urine from escaping, so there’s no fluid to absorb.
Try Finess for a drier you.
Want to learn more about stress urinary incontinence? Check out some of our other articles.