Women's Health: Stress Incontinence

motherandnewborn.jpgA number of women in the GladRags community have contacted us recently and asked us to focus on the issue of incontinence.  While I can’t claim to be an expert on the topic, I’ve done a little research and hope I can shed some light on what incontinence is and what can be done about it.  I encourage anyone with a deeper knowledge of the topic to comment and tell us more!

To begin with, let’s define incontinence for the purpose of this blog post.  There are all kinds of incontinence, from urge to functional, but the type that affects the most women is called stress incontinence.  The symptoms of stress incontinence include leaking urine when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or during other times of physical activity.

pelvic-muscles.jpgSo why does this happen to some women but not others?  Stress incontinence is generally caused by a weakening of the pelvic floor muscles, which help support your bladder.  Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause all cause physical and hormonal changes in our bodies which can lead to weakened pelvic floor muscles — and leaking urine when someone tells a particularly funny joke!

Fortunately, there are several natural, non-invasive ways to treat stress incontinence.  First, a doctor might recommend behavioral changes such as weight loss, quitting smoking, and avoiding caffeine and spicy foods.  Being overweight, smoking (and coughing!), and certain foods can all put stress on your bladder, causing leakage.  Then, the doctor may suggest the most common treatment for stress incontinence: Kegel exercises.

Kegel exercises involve contracting and relaxing the muscles of the pelvic floor in order to increase strength.  And they’re not just useful for women suffering from stress incontinence — Kegels are helpful to women preparing for childbirth, and to improve sexual experiences.  We recommend the Energie Kegel Exerciser, by the way!

laughingmaturewoman.jpgI was surprised at how difficult it was to find out exactly how many women suffer from stress incontinence.  Most sources were vague, but cited stress incontinence as a common problem that “millions” of American women experience.  Are the numbers vague because women are too embarrassed to see a doctor, or assume that stress incontinence is just something they have to live with?

Working at GladRags, I’ve learned that stress incontinence is quite common in women of all ages.  We frequently receive letters from women who wear our pads daily due to incontinence, and are grateful for the comfort factor (imagine having to wear plasticky disposables every day!).  While GladRags may not work for someone with full loss of bladder control, we hear all the time that our Day Pads and Pantyliners are great solutions for women with occasional light leaks.

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For more information on stress incontinence, visit these links:

Urinary Incontinence: Millions of Women Suffer in Silence

Stress Incontinence (National Institutes of Health)

Urinary Incontinence in Women  (Health)

Urinary Incontinence in Women (NKUDIC)

  • Hello,

    Thank you for publishing such an informative article for the readers. Incontinence, in its various forms, can be of such embarrassment to women who may feel that they cannot approach their doctor for help and sometimes feel that they are completely on their own.

    We stock a wide range of pelvic toners to suit a variety of budgets ranging from manual to electronic to vaginal cones and there are a number of great, genuine customer reviews from women who have literally regained their dignity and freedom.

    For further information, please visit http://www.pelvic-toners.co.uk We are a UK-based company but also deliver to many countries worldwide.

    Thank you!

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  • TaraImpact

    This is a really useful post. It is really good to see how people are talking about incontinence openly. This is what is need so that the stigma associated with it can be dropped. I found http://www.harleystreeturology.com/the_bladder/bladder_conditions/incontinence_in_women.php this a really good source too.

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  • arcticlily

    Hi there! I’ve suffered with incontinence for at least six years. The past 6 months has been the worst. Paid big bucks for a urologist to do testing and was told the same thing that my gyn told me…your options are physical therapy or surgery. I have stress incontinence. I decided to try a natural remedy. Magnesium was the remedy I decided to try mostly because it was the easiest to do/take. In three days my incontinence was gone! I’ve been able to walk my hour long steep hill walks without a pad/pads and I went on my first hike in 4 years without leakage (actually, had just a little bit but it didn’t even fill up a panty shield. I look forward to skiing with my husband and children this winter too! Blessings and check out magnesium! It’s the most important mineral for our body!

  • Charles Runels

    There’s a new and safer way to achieve the same results as Coaptite. Using blood-derived growth factors to treat stress incontinence avoids the risk of granuloma formation.

    You can find out more by going to the following website: http://OShot.info/members/stress

  • Lee in Pinetop

    I don’t know if this will help anyone but there is no cost or harm in trying it and I’ve had amazing results. I developed stress incontinence a couple years ago and figured it was just a part of aging – I’m 64. But about 2 months ago I decided to go on a low – not no – gluten diet because I’ve always had gas if eat more than a normal helping of bread, crackers or cookies. I had no problem with a sandwich or a few crackers or cookies, only when I binged on them. Within the first two weeks, I noticed my incontinence problem had gone. I no longer wear pads and can cough or laugh without any leakage. I didn’t make any other changes in my life – no new prescriptions or cutting out a prescription – so it had to be a result of less gluten in my diet.

  • Lee in Pinetop

    Here’s another comment by a someone who solved her very serious bladder problem by eliminating gluten from her diet and it seems some urology patients with bladder problems are
    helped when they eliminate gluten.

    http://www.celiac.com/articles/21636/1/Gluten-Sensitivity-and-Bladder-Disease/Page1.html

  • Charles Runels

    There’s a new and safer way to achieve the same results as Coaptite. Using blood-derived growth factors to treat stress incontinence avoids the risk of granuloma formation.

    You can find out more by going to the following website: http://OShot.info/members/stress

  • Charles Runels

    There’s a new and safer way to achieve the same results as Coaptite. Using blood-derived growth factors to treat stress incontinence avoids the risk of granuloma formation.

    You can find out more by going to the following website: http://OShot.info/members/stress

  • Charles Runels

    There’s a new and safer way to achieve the same results as Coaptite. Using blood-derived growth factors to treat stress incontinence avoids the risk of granuloma formation.

    You can find out more by going to the following website: http://OShot.info/members/stress

  • Charles Runels

    There’s a new and safer way to achieve the same results as Coaptite. Using blood-derived growth factors to treat stress incontinence avoids the risk of granuloma formation.

    You can find out more by going to the following website: http://OShot.info/members/stress

  • Charles Runels

    There’s a new and safer way to achieve the same results as Coaptite. Using blood-derived growth factors to treat stress incontinence avoids the risk of granuloma formation.

    You can find out more by going to the following website: http://OShot.info/members/stress

  • Charles Runels

    There’s a new and safer way to achieve the same results as Coaptite. Using blood-derived growth factors to treat stress incontinence avoids the risk of granuloma formation.

    You can find out more by going to the following website: http://OShot.info/members/stress

  • Shelley

    I have suffered with stress incontinence issues while jogging for years. A year or so ago I decided to design a pair of women’s athletic shorts that would hold a pad in place while running or walking. I am excited to say that these shorts are now available at http://www.evincosports.com. Hope this helps some of your followers.

  • Leslie Conrad

    I thought all hope was lost after I had my three children. I had made changes to my diet, added pelvic floor exercises to my daily routine, etc and still had no relief of my symptoms. I did hours of research and came across Laser Vaginal Rejuvenation Institute of Los Angeles. Absolutely amazing results and I would recommend these Doctors to everyone.

  • Kegel exercises are certainly helpful to control most bladder urges and strengthen your bladder muscles. However, patience is needed to build muscle strength so it may take faithful repetition for 2 to 3 months before improvements are experienced. Do Kegels correctly and you can say goodbye to diapers and other adult incontinence supplies.