Around 25 million adult Americans (with a significant majority being women) suffer from a form of incontinence. According to the same source, it affects at least 200 million people worldwide, making it a quite common problem. So, how does it remain a condition people are too ashamed or embarrassed to talk about? Bear in mind that, due to these sentiments, many people never make it to the doctor, so the numbers are probably much higher.
Because society still treats it as a taboo subject, it can significantly affect one’s physical and mental well-being. As it’s usually caused by another condition (e.g., pregnancy, giving birth, prostatectomies), people simply focus on the main problem, counting that the unpleasant side effects will disappear.
Sometimes it does. But there are still other ways to treat it.
Below, we dive into the topic of struggling with incontinence. After consulting HomeTouch and other care experts, we have prepared this article to help you learn how to treat UI and stop it from affecting your mental health.
Urinary Incontinence Explained
Urinary incontinence is also known as urinary leakage or urinary control issues.
Urinary leaks can be caused by physical (e.g., prostatectomies), childbirth-related (e.g., vaginal childbirth), and psychological factors (e.g., stress, anxiety).
The most common form of UI is stress incontinence, which happens when there is an increase in abdominal pressure (e.g., coughing, sneezing, laughing, exercising, lifting heavy objects) or other forms of physical pressure (e.g., sexual intercourse). This causes the muscles surrounding the bladder to weaken, making it harder to control the urine flow.
Women are more prone to developing urinary incontinence than men.
How Can You Treat It?
G gynecologists usually recommend Kegel exercises for treating stress, urinary incontinence, and urinary leakage. They can help relax your pelvic floor muscles and strengthen them, which will support the bladder.
Just clench your pelvic muscles (as if you were holding back pee) for 3 seconds and then release for 3 seconds. Try doing 10-15 repetitions per day and gradually work your way up to 40-50.
Biofeedback therapy uses technology to monitor your body’s anxiety levels and bodily functions. It helps increase awareness of how your body works, which results in better control over it. This is very helpful for managing stress urinary incontinence caused by OAB (overactive bladder) and other similar conditions. According to some studies, biofeedback therapy can even improve those who suffer from chronic UI.
Diet and Lifestyle Changes
Making lifestyle changes, including a healthier diet and exercising regularly, can significantly reduce UTI symptoms. Try avoiding alcohol, caffeine, sugar, and salt while consuming plenty of water (at least eight glasses per day) and fruits and vegetables (4-5 servings per day). Regular exercise should also become part of your life if you want to prevent UI – try 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 times per week (you can start slow if you’re not used to exercising regularly). This will help strengthen your pelvic muscles and improve their function – resulting in less incontinence leakage.
If you want to try medication, talk to your doctor. There are many medicines out there, so it’s vital to get a prescription that suits your specific condition. Drugs can be prescribed by a urologist or a gynecologist, depending on the cause of the incontinence. They are usually taken orally, but sometimes they can be administered as enemas (for those who suffer from fecal incontinence).
How Does UI Affect Your Mental Health And What To Do About It?
Even though incontinence is prevalent, it is still widely regarded as a taboo. It significantly affects your life quality (both physical and mental), lowering your confidence, preventing you from enjoying every day as you never know how your body will react.
Many people don’t talk about it, mainly because they are embarrassed. Some don’t even want to discuss it with their doctor, afraid to risk feeling humiliated in front of a healthcare provider.
Struggling with UI can also affect your sex life. As pelvic muscles have to be relaxed during intercourse, stress urinary incontinence can make sex painful and uncomfortable for both partners. As a result, you might become insecure about your body, leading to a range of insecurities and mental health issues.
Dealing with UI can be challenging and stressful, but there are ways to prevent it from affecting your mental well-being. It’s up to you to decide whether you want to go for a more traditional approach (e.g., Kegel exercises) or try more advanced methods (e.g., biofeedback therapy). Either way, you’ll need to see a professional who will be able to recommend the best treatment option based on your specific case.
As you can see, UI is quite common – if it’s not you, then it’s likely someone close to you. And even though there are multiple ways to treat it, there’s a lot of shame and embarrassment that goes along with it – which shouldn’t be the case.
If you struggle with incontinence, don’t hesitate to speak to a doctor – that’s the best way to get treatment for this condition. You might also take matters into your own hands and try some natural ways of dealing with UI. However, we always recommend consulting with a professional to rule out other health issues.
Featured Image by AndPan614 from Pixabay