I’ve talked about bladder weakness before on my blog, it’s something I’m passionate about because it’s one of those subjects that people make light of, but suffer in silence. They may think that it’s an inevitable part of getting older, or as a result of having children. The truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way.
World Continence Week 2017
It’s World Continence Week (WCW) this week (18th – 24th June), WCW was initiated by the International Continence Society (ICS) in 2008 with the first ever World Continence Day. This became World Continence Week (WCW) in June 2009 with activities being developed worldwide. This is the perfect time to start the discussion, even if it’s just with your close friends and family, or on social media using the hashtag #WCW17 and #HygieneMatters. You have to feel comfortable talking to people about it, so start by talking with a close friend, maybe compare symptoms and signs. We’ve all talked about going trampolining with kids and how embarrassing it can be, you could start there. I often hear jokes when I go to an exercise class about jumping jacks, no-one wants to do them because they know they’re going to get a little leak! You’ll probably find a lot more people suffer than you think. It’s not just women either, a lot of men suffer too and it’s even more of a taboo subject. I’d love to know what you think, is bladder weakness still a taboo subject in 2017?
There are several myths surrounding bladder weakness, today I’ll be focusing on this one in particular and giving you the facts:
What do you think? Is it something you believe to be true?
My bladder weakness story
Let me tell you my story. After I had my first child, Amy, I experienced some bladder weakness, which I thought would improve after doing pelvic floor exercises. It did, but it took longer than I expected, around 6 months, for me to get back to my normal. After I had my second and third child, I noticed if I had a night out drinking and dancing (not so much anymore) or if I exercised, I was experiencing bladder weakness, I felt wet. To combat this I wore dark clothes to work out in, and if I was going running I’d wear a pad. Since having Daniel, I now wear a pad most days otherwise I find by the end of the day my underwear is wet and if I’m wearing leggings or tights, there’s a stale urine smell. I don’t always notice it happening, it’s in small amounts. If I’m wearing the right products then it makes me feel more confident going about my daily life and routine. I only use a light liner, but it makes me feel so much more secure. More recently I’ve been trying to be more pro-active about it, rather than just accepting this is the way things are going to be. I’ve been performing pelvic floor exercises on a daily basis (actually remembering to do them) and I have a Doctor’s appointment coming up where I’m going to discuss being referred for investigations to see if surgery may be an option. I’ve discussed it with my husband, although he knows about it, we hadn’t really talked about it If you’re like me, the first thing to do is make sure you’re doing your pelvic floor exercises regularly and correctly. Here’s a quick summary:
Imagine you are trying to stop your urine mid flow, this is the muscle you’re exercising. Squeeze and release. The pelvic floor muscle is like a hammock of muscles, and they can be exercised. You can start either at the front, squeezing then move to include the vagina and rectal muscles too. Pretend you’re holding in a fart and you’re in the right spot! Aim for 3 sets of 3 squeezes per day at first. I’ve downloaded the My PFF app, which helps to remind me to do them, and has videos and support to help coach you.
Secondly, find out whether your bladder weakness is as a result of a medical reason, such as a prolapse. See your GP, they are used to discussing these things and there’s nothing to be worried about. They may simply refer you to a Gynaecologist who specialises in bladder weakness.
Thirdly, talk about it. It was hard admitting and talking to my husband about it, how it affects me – I don’t like to run out of pads, and he has bought them for me in the past. It’s how I know he truly loves me! I also opened up recently about how it affects our sex life. On the whole, it’s fine, I make sure I wash before hand so I feel fresh, but I do get concerned about oral sex, and I prefer not to receive it now because I’m worried about any tiny leaks. He’s never complained but I just don’t feel as comfortable as I used to which defeats the object. He’s happy I’m seeing the doctor about it, although it doesn’t affect how he feels about me, or stopped him wanting me.
Lastly, know the facts. The myth I started with, that once you have bladder weakness, it’s something you’ll have for life is actually FALSE. For some, this is just a temporary occurrence which can improve with pelvic floor exercises.
According to the Hygiene Matters report, incontinence affects 400 million people worldwide and is classified by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a disease. If you think about it like that, it’s not something that should be made light of, or brushed under the carpet as one of those things. They focus on how good hygiene can save so many lives and improve the quality of life, all around the world.
Below is an Infographic put together by Essity (the makers of TENA products) that aims to dispel some common myths linked to bladder weakness, and gives you the facts, along with raising awareness. It would be great if you could share it to show your support, or share this blog post, using the hashtag #WCW17 and #HygieneMatters – do tag me in it as well, I’m @midwifeandlife accross all platforms.
Disclosure: this post is sponsored by Essity. All opinions are my own.
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