Neurological Continence Nurse Consultant, Joanne Lawrence, has been providing support and advice to people who have bowel or bladder problems for the last 20 years. Today, she’s here to tell us the good news about a very common problem – bladder weakness.
For thousands of Australian women, their deepest, darkest secret doesn’t revolve around their age, dress size or covert botox treatments, but rather an experience so common you wouldn’t believe it – a weak bladder.
While many women don’t talk about it, this embarrassing condition can affect women of all ages, but predominantly women pre and post pregnancy. It’s due to pressure from your uterus on your bladder when pregnant and weaker pelvic floor muscles post pregnancy.
New research by Poise Health Pulse has revealed 46% of women experience some degree of incontinence during pregnancy with up to 30% having an incontinence problem following delivery – light bladder leakage (LBL) currently affects or has affected 69% of Australian women.
But I’m here to tell you the good news! With some careful planning and preparation living with light bladder leakage doesn’t need to be as frustrating as you think, and can be temporary for many people if you can strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. So stop dressing down, or missing your favourite aerobics class because your confidence has been knocked.
I have prepared the following tips to help you manage:
Keep a healthy balance of fluids – It may come as a surprise that not drinking enough liquid can also lead to leakage and bladder health problems. If you don’t have enough fluids urine can become more concentrated and that can be irritating to the bladder and increase urgency. But remember you don’t want to drink too much liquid either. Try drinking the majority of your fluids during the earlier parts of the day and not so much at night. It’s about striking the right balance.
Schedule bathroom trips – Plan how regularly you need to go to the bathroom so you can be prepared with where your nearest toilet is located. If you’re visiting somewhere new find out if there is a directory or ask a staff member who can point out where the bathrooms are. You can also access the National toilet map on the internet at australia.gov.au/service/public-toilet-map
Pelvic floor exercises – When done regularly, these exercises will strengthen the muscles that support the bladder and therefore help prevent leakage and the feeling of urgency that comes with incontinence
Cutting back on caffeine and alcohol – Alcohol and caffeine are diuretics which can be irritating to the bladder. Limiting caffeine and alcohol intake may help reduce light bladder leakage symptoms. If you can’t go without that morning coffee to kick start your day try slowly moving to decaf.
Wear the right product – many women wear the wrong products which can have a huge impact on your comfort and your confidence. There is a range of discreet Poise feminine care products designed specifically for light bladder leakage that absorb liquid and reduce potential odour. Check it out here: http://www.poise.com.au/select-product/
For more information about light bladder leakage speak to your healthcare professional or visit www.poise.com.au
About the Author
Joanne Lawrence (pictured) is a Neurological Continence Nurse Consultant. Most of the people she assists have neurological conditions like brain injury, spinal cord injury or diseases like Parkinson’s disease or Multiple Sclerosis.
Joanne holds an academic position at the Australian Catholic University where she teaches in the Faculty of Health Sciences. She is currently in the final stages of completing her PhD from the Faculty of Medicine, at Sydney University. Her study is the first one of its kind to explore how people with Parkinson’s disease manage the very common problems of constipation and urinary frequency.