What is bladder weakness and how do we combat these #oooopsmoments?
“Don’t make me laugh or I’ll pee myself!”
This is a phrase I often hear women cry and one which I’ve exclaimed on occasion. But, I’ve never actually peed myself – until recently.
For some women, like my mum, who had 4 children close together (and all natural, might I add…), ‘oooops moments’ after laughing, coughing and even sneezing are all too real of a problem. I had two caesarean births in close succession, so I wasn’t ‘blessed’ with a natural birth and all the side-effects that came with it. But, what I do have are weak kidneys, which cause me to lug up to at least 3 litres of water a day, just to avoid the burning sensation of dehydration that springs on me at the drop-of-a-hat. But, as I’m getting older, I have begun to notice the strain that I have put my bladder under and, indeed, I have started to feel the bain of ‘oooops moments’.
As, embarrassing as it all sounds, it’s actually a very common inconvenience amongst us women. In fact, 50% of women in the UK experience light bladder weakness. So, rather than suffering in silence, we should bring this topic to light and share our ideas on how to combat these little surprises when we jump on a trampoline, cough in a train, or, perhaps, laugh so much at a dinner table that we’re not just moistening from the eyes (yes, these have all happened to me recently). So, I’ve gone ahead and done a bit of research on how and why ‘oooops moments’ – or bladder weakness – occur and how we can combat this issue going forward.
Symptoms of bladder weakness
There are actually several types of urinary incontinence, but the most common that are found in the UK are stress incontinence and urge incontinence. It is possible to have a mixture of both types of incontinence at one time.
Pee leaks out when your bladder is under pressure, for example when you cough, sneeze or laugh, and is usually the result of a weakening or damaging of the muscles used to prevent urination, such as pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter. Symptoms can stem from or be exacerbated during pregnancy and vaginal birth.
Pee leaks out when you feel the sudden, intense urge to pass urine – or soon afterwards. This is usually the result of over-activity of the detrusor muscles, which control the bladder (which is most likely the issue I’m facing now).
Obesity, a family history of incontinence and increasing age can increase the chances of bladder weakness (although, this is not an inevitable side effect from aging).
How to combat/fix urinary incontinence/bladder weakness/general ‘oooops moments’
There are things you can do to help improve your bladder weakness. These may include:
- Certain lifestyle changes, i.e. losing weight and cutting down on alcohol and caffeine
- Pelvic floor exercises (these are a must, I cannot stress this to you enough!) Keeping fit and ensuring your pelvic floor muscles are strong, is probably the best way to ensure you prevent or minimise bladder weakness, especially during pregnancy and vaginal birth. You can find information on how to do your pelvic floor exercises on the internet. There is a great app called ‘My PFF’ that is sponsored by Lights by TENA and is free to download on Google Play Store and Apple. You can also download the app by heading over to lightsbyTENA.com. Now you don’t have to worry about forgetting to do your pelvic floor exercises because My PFF has three difficulty levels for beginners (don’t worry, 17% of women don’t know what pelvic floor exercises actually are) and experts, as well as the option to set up to six exercise reminders at one time (over a quarter of us women rarely remember to exercise our pelvic floor, and I’m one of them!) You will get walk through demo videos, personalised notes and all the help and support you need to get started.
- Train your bladder to wait a little longer between needing to urinate and passing urine. Again, a specialist can help you here.
- Using incontinence products that contain Feelfresh technology, such as Lights by TENA panty liners. Lights by TENA are specifically designed for unexpected little leaks and soaking up those ‘oooops moments’, so that you don’t need to change your knickers umpteen times a day. They’re also small enough to fit into your handbag, so you can take them practically anywhere with you. Register to receive your free sample pack of Lights by TENA panty liners here. You can also find more details on Lights by TENA’s website and the video below.
Please do not worry or be ashamed!
According to the NHS, between three and six million people in this country have some degree of bladder weakness, so it’s better to read up on what is causing these symptoms and how you can make changes to improve them, rather than be embarrassed and stay quiet. This is a very common problem.
I found some interesting results from surveys conducted by incontinence experts, Tena, which may set your mind at rest a little.
- 54 per cent of ladies in the UK experience bladder weakness, making it twice as common as hay fever (which only 27 per cent suffer from on a regular basis)
- Bladder weakness is even more common than coughs (18%), colds (20%) and sore throats (16%)
- Bladder weakness is three times more likely to occur than eczema and mouth ulcers (13%)
- One in nine men experience bladder weakness at some point in their life. So, men, if you’re reading this and you suffer from bladder weakness, then there is no need to be ashamed, as it’s just as common for you as it is for us women.
“With so many women in the UK admitting they experience light bladder weakness, it is a shame to see that a large proportion still feel they need to keep this a secret. We hope that by showing women how common this is, we can inspire them to open up and break the stigma.” Lights by TENA brand manager, Anna McCory
If you want to watch me and a few other mums talking about the importance of pelvic floor exercises, especially during pregnancy, please check out the YouTube video below:
*This post is sponsored by Lights by Tena and TOTS100, but all opinions are 100% my own*
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