Patient Perspective:  How Do I Tell My Wife I Have Incontinence? 

How Do I Tell My Wife I Have Incontinence?

I’ve been incontinent for 1 year now, and my wife has no idea. (At least I don’t think she does).  You see I’ve gone to great lengths to hide it from her.  It’s not like I leak all the time, but a few times a week I find myself unable to make it to the bathroom in time and I have an accident. It horrifies me, since this has never happened before.

My doctor tells me I have an enlarged prostate. This, my wife knows. I’m sure she also knows some of the symptoms, since she’s the type to do research on this stuff. But I haven’t told her I suffer from bladder leaks.

I keep spare underwear hidden in the car.  I limit my fluids when I know we’re going to be out. I always scout out the nearest restroom in case I need to make a beeline to it. I even decline certain events if I think there’s a risk I may have an accident. I feel like I’m living as a secret agent with this condition – always trying to stay 1 step ahead. 

You’re probably wondering why I haven’t told her. Talking with your spouse about something that embarrasses you is never easy. But for me, this is devastating. I’ve always been her “tough guy”. The one who fixes up old cars, goes bowling with the guys on Tuesdays, can handle pretty much anything anyone throws my way. But this is different. It’s made me feel like less of a man. And I feel embarrassed that I can’t control something as simple as my bladder.

I know it’s more complicated than that, but I just can’t help thinking “What will she think of me?”  “Will she still find me attractive?” “Will she think less of me?”

We’ve always been so spontaneous. Running out at a moments notice to meet up with friends at a pub. Jumping on those last minute flights to somewhere tropical. Going to shows and concerts and ball games. I still want to be that person. That guy who does all the fun stuff. But these bladder leaks are getting in the way of that.

I know we’re getting older, but I still just want her to look at me like she always has, and I’m so scared this will change that.

I’m planning to tell her soon. I know that it’s probably better to just get it out there, Knowing my wife, she’ll probably jump right in and try to help. She’s awesome like that.

And, I’m sure her knowing will probably be good for me. We’ll find ways to deal with it together. We’ll find solutions for this condition that I know are out there but I’ve been too stubborn or embarrassed to seek out. It will be better. She will help me make it better.

But the thought of having that conversation with her is still scary as hell.  The telling is really the hardest part of all of this. Wish me luck.

Anonymous

November Is National Bladder Health Awareness Month!

Each year, NAFC takes part in National Bladder Health Awareness Month. It’s a time to speak out about bladder health conditions, such as incontinence, and is a chance for us to urge everyone to take notice of their bladder health and do something to improve it.  Over 25 million Americans live with incontinence each day, but it’s a condition that too often get’s swept under the rug and left out of pertinent doctor/patient discussions due to embarrassment or acceptance. 

The truth is, this is a hard subject for most. Let’s face it; incontinence is not something most people want to talk about around the dinner table. In fact, most women wait at least 7 years before even speaking with a doctor about incontinence. 

People hide incontinence from their friends, family and even their significant other.  Incontinence limits people’s lives and how they interact with each other – fear of having an accident takes precedent over time with friends, family and even work.  It’s a taboo subject, but we believe we can change that. And you can help.

This month, take charge of your bladder health and incontinence by taking some actionable steps to manage your condition.

Start Managing Your Condition

Start by downloading our Getting Started Guide, a step-by-step manual designed to help you start managing incontinence even before visiting a doctor.   

Help Raise Awareness Within Your Immediate Circle Of Friends

If we all started speaking up a little more about incontinence, it wouldn’t be such a taboo issue.  Do your part to raise awareness of bladder health and incontinence by clicking the share links on each image and sharing these facts on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest.

“Visit nafc.org to learn management tips and tricks on how to have a happy, healthy bladder!

Visit NAFC.org To Learn More About How To Have A Happy Healthy Bladder! #BHealth

Learn the steps to take to manage your incontinence symptoms at nafc.org.

Exercise is good for your body, and your bladder. Learn more about how to improve incontinence symptoms with diet and exercise at nafc.org.

Exercise is good for your body, and your bladder. Learn more about how to improve incontinence symptoms with diet and exercise at nafc.org. #BHealth

Incontinence can be hard to deal with. But we can help. Learn more at nafc.org.

Need some help managing your incontinence, but don't know where to turn? Visit nafc.org to find a specialist in your area! #BHealth

Need some help managing your incontinence, but don't know where to turn? Visit nafc.org to find a specialist in your area! #BHealth

Many foods can irritate the bladder, including caffeine. Learn about other bladder irritants at nafc.org.

Learn the steps to take to manage your incontinence symptoms at nafc.org. #BHealth

Up To 45% Of Women Have Incontinence. And while it might be common, it's not normal. Learn more and get help at nafc.org.

Incontinence can be hard to deal with. But we can help. Learn more at nafc.org. #BHealth

Even when you have incontinence, it's important to stay hydrated. Learn more bladder health tips at nafc.org.

Many foods can irritate the bladder, including caffeine. Learn about other bladder irritants at nafc.org. #BHealth

Did you know that over 33 million Americans have Overactive Bladder? Learn more about it and how to treat it at nafc.org.

Up To 45% Of Women Have Incontinence. And while it might be common, it's not normal. Learn more and get help at nafc.org. #BHealth
Even when you have incontinence, it's important to stay hydrated. Learn more bladder health tips at nafc.org. #BHealth
Did you know that over 33 million Americans have Overactive Bladder? Learn more about it and how to treat it at nafc.org. #BHealth

Follow Along With Us This Month 

We’re shining a spotlight on Overactive Bladder and will be rolling out a new series of videos on the many ways to treat OAB.  Check in with us here on the BHealth Blog throughout the month to watch the videos and learn about management options for this widespread condition.

 

Make A Donation To NAFC

NAFC has served the public for over 25 years as a non-profit dedicated to educating, empowering, and supporting people living with bladder and bowel conditions.  Help us continue this mission by making a donation to NAFC – every cent counts and even a little can help us continue providing services to the over 1 million people who visit our site each year.   

Your contribution matters and can make a real difference.  It’s how we’re able to continue creating free courses for your local communities. It’s how we’re able to advocate for patients in home and at assisted care facilities for quality incontinence supplies. It’s how we provide thousands of free educational brochures to patients looking for help. And it’s how we are able to increase the awareness of the impact of incontinence on those it touches.

Please consider a donation to NAFC this November in honor of Bladder Health Awarenss Month.

Thanks for all you do to support us! Now get out there, start taking some action, and make some noise! 

The Best Bathroom Locator Apps

The Best Bathroom Finder Apps

The Best Bathroom Finder Apps

We’ve all been there – you’re out and about and the sudden urge to go to the bathroom strikes out of nowhere. You race to find a bathroom, praying to make it in time (and praying that the conditions of the facility are acceptable). This scenario is no fun at all. But luckily, there are some clever apps out there that make finding a bathroom a little easier, and give you more confidence when traveling, running errands, or socializing with friends and family.

Here’s our roundup of the 4 best Bathroom Finders available now.

(All are available on IOS and Android platforms.)

SIT OR SQUAT:

Sit Or Squat was developed by Charmin to help you find a public restroom near you, wherever you may be (even traveling outside the US). Boasting 100,000 listings, this app has you covered, and is easy and free to use. Sit or Squat allows you to view bathrooms in list or map view, and lets you filter locations for things like ‘handicap accessible’, or ‘baby changing table’. It also lets you rate bathrooms by cleanliness (a  “Sit” rating indicates a clean bathroom while a “Squat” rating indicates a bathroom with less desirable conditions.) All in all, this is a great app with an easy to use interface.

Download the app: Google Play, iTunes

GOT TO GO RESTROOM FINDER

The Got TO Go Restroom Finder App is free to download and operates only in North America, and lists restrooms as a map or list view.  Users are able to filter views by which locations are open near them, and the type of location it is (gas station, restaurant, retail store, or government/public building). You can also see cleanliness ratings, rate the bathroom yourself, or add new bathrooms to the app.

Download the app: Google PlayiTunes

BATHROOM SCOUT

Bathroom Scout has over 1,800,000 bathrooms listed worldwide, including public toilets, or restrooms in restaurants and other facilities. The service offers turn by turn directions to bathrooms near you, the ability to see a Google Street View of the location (if images are available), and the ability to rate the condition of the bathrooms.  The free version contains ads, but the paid pro version also offers a satellite view, no ads, and a waterfall sound for when you need a bit of sound cover when using a public restroom.

Download the app: Google PlayiTunes

FLUSH

Flush operates worldwide with 190,000 restrooms stored in it’s free app. Like others listed here, you can see restrooms by both map and list view and get directions to nearby toilets. Flush also lets you filter bathrooms by “disabled access, “requires key”, and “requires fee”.  Another great feature is that the app works even when you don’t have an internet connection, allowing you to find a bathroom in an emergency even when cell service is spotty.

Download the app: Google Play, iTunes

Keep in mind that these apps are only updated when users add new information, such as new locations, information, or ratings. So they likely wont have every available toilet listed, and you may not know all the details on cleanliness or other features if users have not rated it.  But, in a pinch, it can be nice to have one of these apps handy to help you out. And, if you add your own finds in places that you visit frequently, it can serve as a helpful tool for you day-to-day when you’re out and about in your community.

Do you know of any other helpful apps you think might benefit our readers? Share them in the comments below!

Six Things To Try Before You Visit Your Doctor For Incontinence

6 Things To Try Before You Visit Your Doctor For Incontinence

6 Things To Try Before You Visit Your Doctor For Incontinence

Whether you’ve just started experiencing bladder leaks, or have been dealing with them for a while, knowing how to manage incontinence can be difficult.  And even if you’ve scheduled an appointment to see your doctor, there are things you can do before speaking with him or her to start treating the problem.

This week we’re focusing on management techniques that don’t require a visit to your doctor. NAFC has a great guide on the website that will walk you through the steps of management and things to try to control bladder leaks. Check out all the steps below:

Step 1: Finding products to help you stay clean and dry

Step 2: Assess Your Condition

Step 3: Measure Your Pelvic Floor Strength

Step 4: Pelvic Floor Exercises

Step 5: Develop A Voiding Strategy

Step 6: Get Professional Help

It is possible that by performing the steps above, you may be able to reduce or even eliminate your symptoms on your own. At the very least, it will give you some good information to share with your doctor and your initial efforts will help them to get you on a course to a successful treatment plan.

Stay with us this week as we provide more tips on how to manage bladder leaks! 

Access the full guide above here, or download our printed brochure with the above tips from our Resource Center!

Learning To Accept You Have Incontinence

Learning To Accept You Have Incontinence

Over 25 million Americans live with urinary incontinence, which is defined as the involuntary leakage of urine from the bladder. There are many treatment options available for this condition; yet, many people fail to get treatment for it.

We get it – this is a hard condition to come to terms with or to even take seriously. Many people wait years before even talking to their doctor about the condition, thinking it’s just something that happens with age, or that it’s not really that big of a deal. And, because incontinence is a condition that gradually gets worse with time, some people may not even realize the extent that it’s begun to control their lives.

In the worst cases, incontinence sufferers find themselves retreating into their own lives – declining social invitations, missing work, avoiding family and friends – all for fear of having an accident and becoming embarrassed.  Incontinence is a big deal. It affects millions of Americans, some to a debilitating degree. Shame, embarrassment, and depression – these all go hand in hand with incontinence.

But we’re here to tell you, right now, that it doesn’t have to be like that. The first step to treatment is admitting that you have a problem . This is not just an old person’s disease. It’s not something you have to “just live with”, even if it is only a minor annoyance right now. It’s not something that your doctor will think is trivial, or that your spouse or significant other won’t understand or accept. It’s a common, but definitely not normal, condition that can happen to men or women, young or old, in all walks and stages of life. New Moms, athletes, teens, and yes, older adults may all be affected.  No one is immune to incontinence.

The good news in all of this is that you have options. There are ways to manage incontinence, and even eliminate the issue all together.  But first, you need to accept that it is an issue, and decide to do something about it.

Since we’re talking about acceptance and recognizing that you may have incontinence, we want you to know that NAFC has the tools to do just that. Check out our articles and tips on NAFC.org about the different types of incontinence, how to know what type you may have, why incontinence is a concern on a national level, and challenging you to take your first step toward treatment.

We’re glad you’re here. Stay with us!

What Is A Pelvic Floor PT And How Can One Help Me?

What Is A Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist And How Can One Help Me?

Barbara Jennings was 6 weeks postpartum when she realized that something wasn’t right. “I had been feeling some pressure in my vagina for a while, but figured it was just a part of the normal healing process after vaginal delivery.” When she finally got the courage to explore a bit, she found something that surprised her. “I felt a smooth lump protruding slightly from the opening of my vagina. I was horrified, and so scared!” 

What Barbara was experiencing is called a pelvic organ prolapse, and it’s not uncommon. A prolapse happens when the vaginal walls become too week (due to things like childbirth) and the organs that are supported by them fall into the pelvic floor basket, sometimes protruding from the vagina. It’s not a curable condition, but can be improved by behavioral modifications, or surgery if necessary.

“After doing a lot of research, I learned that physical therapy could be done to help strengthen the muscles of the pelvic floor and improve symptoms of prolapse”, said Barbara. “I had never even heard of physical therapy for that part of the body, but because I knew I didn’t want surgery, I signed right up.”

Women’s Health PTs are a thing, and they treat everything from prolapse, like Barbara experienced, to pelvic pain, incontinence, back pain, diastasis recti, and more.  But how do you know if you need one? And at what stage of life do you see them?

The first thing to know is that you can see a Woman’s Health PT at anytime. Whether you’re feeling some back pain during pregnancy, want to get checked out after baby arrives, or have difficulty picking up your grandkids without leaking, physical therapy is an option.  Improvements can be seen at any age, and most physical therapists would agree that it should be a first line of defense against leaks and pelvic floor disorders. 

Medications and surgery are often thought of first when it comes to treatment, but when you commit to a physical therapy routine, you’re making the effort to strengthen your body yourself, which can alleviate a lot of pain and/or leakage on it’s own.  If you’re experiencing any kind of pelvic floor, back or hip pain, or if you have bladder leaks, call a physical therapist and get set up an appointment for an examination.

So, what can you expect when you visit? As with most doctor’s visits, you’re PT will ask you lots of questions about your medical history, and the symptoms you’re currently experiencing. You’ll also likely get a musculoskeletal evaluation, and if you are experiencing any pelvic floor dysfunction, an internal exam.

The internal exam sounds scarier than it actually is – rest assured your PT has performed many internal exams and there is nothing to be embarrassed about. It’s a necessary step for them to determine the state of your pelvic floor muscles, and your treatment plan.

Multiple visits are usually required to assess your improvement over time, and to ensure that you are performing your exercises correctly. Treatment is considered complete when your symptoms have improved, although you may need to continue with your treatment plan even after you stop visiting your PT.

If you experience any type of pelvic floor related dysfunction, including pain, bladder leaks, or even if you experience back pain (those muscles are all connected after all!), don’t hesitate to see a PT. It’s often a good first line of defense for these issues and may resolve them better and more naturally than medications or surgery. “Even though my prolapse will never be completely “cured”, I have seen tremendous improvement in my symptoms since I started physical therapy”, says Barbara. “I’m so glad I looked to this option first.”

What Is A Urologist?

What Is A Urologist?

While most people who experience bladder issues start with their primary doctor, a Urologist can be a great next step in determining more advanced treatment options. Here’s a breakdown of what urologist do, when to see them, what conditions they treat, and what you can expect at your appointment.

What is a Urologist?

A urologist is a specialist that treats diseases of the urinary tract in both men and women, and also the reproductive system in men. A urologist may generalize in all conditions, or they may specialize in a specific gender, pediatrics, neurological conditions, or oncology.

Urologists are required to complete four years of college, and then an additional four years of medical schooling. After that, they typically spend 4-5 years in a residency program, working with and learning from trained urologists.

What conditions do urologists treat?

Urologists can treat anything related to the urinary tract or male reproductive system. Some common conditions include, but are not limited to:

  • Incontinence (Overactive bladder, urinary incontinence)
  • Bedwetting
  • Prolapse (women)
  • Prostate Health (BPH, prostate cancer)
  • Cancer (bladder, kidney, prostate, testicular)
  • Kidney diseases or stones
  • Peyronie’s disease
  • Erectile dysfunction (men)
  • Infertility (men)
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)

A urologist will typically perform various tests to diagnose the condition, and may then suggest a number of different treatment options, potentially including surgery. Urologists are trained in performing specific types of surgery, such as sling procedures for urinary incontinence or prolapse, repairing urinary organs, removing blockages, vasectomy’s, removing tissue from enlarged prostates, or even removing the prostate all together.

When should I see a urologist?

Your primary care doctor may refer you to a urologist if they are not seeing improvements in your symptoms or it the problem requires more specialized care than they can provide.  If you experience any of the following, you may want to consult with a urologist:

Men should also see a urologist regularly for prostate health exams, if they have any problems with infertility, and if they need a vasectomy.

What Can I Expect During My Urology Exam?

As with other doctors visits you’ve had, your urologist will want to get to know you and will ask for your complete medical history, a list of the medications you’re taking, and a rundown of the symptoms or concerns you’re having. If you’ve been keeping any type of bladder or bowel diary, now is the time to share it. Your urologist will also likely ask you for a urine sample, so be sure not to arrive with an empty bladder.

After that, a physical exam will usually follow that will allow the urologist to examine your ailments more closely, and also perform general health checks (such as assessing the prostate in men).

Depending on your condition, other tests may be performed, such as imaging scans, cystoscopy, or urodynamics, PSA test, or testosterone levels, to help better diagnosis your condition.

Once your urologist has a good understanding of the condition, he or she will be able to recommend a treatment plan for you. This may include additional tests to determine severity, behavioral modifications, medications, or even surgery.

If you find that you need to see a urologist, don’t be nervous! They are trained professionals who can help you find the right treatment for your condition. The most important thing to remember when visiting a urologist is to be open and honest when discussing your concerns, even if it feels embarrassing or uncomfortable to you. It’s the only way that your urologist will be able to provide a proper treatment plan for you.

Ask The Expert: How Do I Know If My Bladder Leaks Are Serious Enough To Talk To A Doctor About?

When Should I Talk To A Doctor About Bladder Leaks?

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: How do I know if my bladder leaks are serious enough to talk to a doctor about?

Answer: This is a great question, and one that we wish more people would ask. Bladder leaks are a bit like a leaky faucet. Annoying at first, but something that most people ignore for a while. However, given too much time, what started as a small faucet leak can turn into a full-blown problem. The same is true with your bladder. What may start as an annoying occasional problem can get worse over time if left untreated. Many patients wait too long to get treatment, for a variety of reasons – they don’t think their problems is that bad, they are embarrassed to talk about it, they feel like they can manage it on their own. However over time, the condition can worsen and incontinence can truly become a part of daily life, which is something no one wants to deal with.

Here are three questions to ask yourself when wondering if you should get treated for bladder leaks:

  1. Is this problem affecting my daily life, even a little?

  2. Does it bother me that I have to make adjustments for my bladder leaks (like always finding the nearest bathroom when you’re out, bringing along a change of clothes just in case, or having the occasional leak.)?

  3. Will I feel upset years from now when I look back on this time, and wish that I had done more to treat this issue?

If you answered YES to any of the above three questions, it’s time to talk to your doctor. Any condition that is keeping you from living your fullest life is one that should be seen to. Don’t wait another minute – with so many treatment options, for bladder leakage there is just no reason to not get help.

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Men And Kegels - The Ultimate Guide

Men's Ultimate Guide To Kegels

Kegel exercises have long been associated with women – something that they do during pregnancy and post childbirth to tone up their pelvic floors and prevent or ease incontinence symptoms. But Men, if you haven’t tried kegels, you’re truly missing out. Not only can they help ease bladder leakage if you have it, experts claim that they can also give you a stronger erection and orgasm. Want to learn more? Keep reading.

What are Kegels and what muscles do they work?

Kegels are basically the contracting of the muscles in your pelvic floor. Your pelvic floor is comprised of a tightly woven web of muscles, located in the base of the pelvis between the pubic bone and tailbone. These muscles have three main functions:

  1. They help support the pelvic organs such as the bladder, the intestines and the rectum.

  2. They help control bladder and bowel function and can prevent or ease symptoms of bladder leakage.

  3. They are involved in sexual functionality.

As with any other muscle in the body, if they get weak, they can no longer perform their job. These muscles can naturally stretch and become weaker over time, but with proper exercise they can remain strong to ensure good sexual and bladder health and function.

How do kegels benefit me? 

Kegels can address a number of issues that men may face related to their bladder or bowel.

Bladder Leaks. 

Urinary incontinence is a condition that affects as many as 15% of men aged 15-64, and may be caused by a number of health conditions. The most common cause of incontinence in men is due to problems with the prostate, but other conditions can affect bladder function as well. Incontinence in men can range from a small amount of leakage after urination, or more substantial leaking when performing physical activity or placing stress on the bladder (laughing, coughing, working out, lifting heavy items).  A Kegel regimen can help to tone these muscles to prevent the leaks from happening.

Fecal Incontinence.

As with urinary incontinence, weakening of the pelvic floor muscles can also affect the anus and rectum, resulting in loss of bowel control. But, kegel exercises can help to tone and strengthen this area up as well to prevent bowel leakage.

Overactive Bladder.

You’ve probably seen a million pharmaceutical commercials for what’s known as Overactive Bladder – the urgent and frequent need to empty your bladder. When you have an overactive bladder, the muscles of the bladder contract involuntarily, creating an urgent need to urinate. Performing kegels can help improve control of these muscles, improving, or even eliminating the chance bladder leakage.

Urinary Retention.

Ever had difficulty starting a stream of urine? How about a weak flow, and the feeling that you need to urinate again right after you’ve finished? It could be urinary retention, which is usually caused by a blockage in the urinary tract, or nerve problems that interfere with signals between the brain and the bladder.  Bladder retraining is one method that can be used to help fix this, but kegels can also help the nerves and muscles used in emptying the bladder to work better.

Erectile Functioning.

Erectile Dysfunction, or ED, can be caused by many physical conditions (heart disease, diabetes), or can be the result of surgery (like prostate removal) or trauma. The good news is that you don’t have to resort to medications to treat it – kegel exercises can help strengthen your muscles in your pelvic region and regain normal function. In men, kegels specifically help strengthen the bulbocavernous muscle.  This is the muscle that is responsible for erections, contractions during orgasm and ejaculation, and emptying the urethra after urination. Studies have found that regular practice of kegels can keep this muscle strong, and if you’re experiencing problems, kegels may improve your symptoms.

Ejaculation & Orgasm. 

Again, this goes back to the bulbocavernous muscle – the stronger the muscle, the stronger the contractions you’ll have during orgasm. Enough said.

How do I do a kegel?

First, you need to locate the right muscles, which is often the hardest part. The next time you’re urinating, try stopping the flow mid-stream. If you can do that, you’ve found the right muscle. (But don’t do this on a regular basis – this should only be done when trying to locate the correct muscles.)

There are two types of kegel exercises that you can do to strengthen and tone your pelvic floor muscles.

Long Contractions.  Long Contractions work on the supportive strength of the muscles. To perform a long kegel contraction, tighten your pelvic muscles and hold for 5 seconds. This may be difficult at first – don’t worry if you can’t hold the contraction for the full five seconds. With practice you’ll be able to work up to this.

Overtime, work your way up to 10 seconds per contraction. Be sure to rest for 10 seconds in between each contraction – knowing how to relax your muscle is as important as the contraction.

Short Contractions.  Short contractions work the fast twitch muscles that work quickly to stop the flow of urine and prevent leaks. To perform a short contraction, tighten your muscles quickly, then release, and repeat.

How Often Should I Do Kegels?

Like any muscle, you don’t want to do too much too soon. Aim for 5 reps of both short and long contractions, 3x per day on your first day. As you gain more confidence and strength, work your way up to 10 reps, 3x per day of each.

It may take time to see changes, but consistency is key here. Continue practicing kegels and you should see improvements in 3-6 months. And, if you find that you need some help with kegels, talk to your doctor or physical therapist. They will be able to provide you with more personal instruction, which may include biofeedback therapy.

Men, Here Are 5 Reasons You May Be Experiencing Bladder Leaks.

men bladder leaks

Women sometimes get all the attention when talking about bladder problems. And while it’s true that bladder leakage affects more women than men, that doesn’t mean men are free from the condition. In fact, studies suggest that as many as 15% of men living at home between the ages of 15 to 64 are affected by incontinence. 

Here are 5 of the top reasons men may experience bladder leakage.

1. You Have A Prostate Problem. 

By far, conditions affecting the prostate account for the majority of problems in men with incontinence. Enlarged prostate (Benign Prostate Hyperplasia, or BPH) can constrict or block the urethra, compromising the bladder’s ability to effectively empty. This can cause urgency and frequency since the bladder still signals that it needs emptying. And, for men who have had prostate removal surgery due to prostate cancer, urine leakage is common during the first six weeks after surgery. After that, roughly 20% of men may continue to have a significant problem with leakage, or stress urinary incontinence.

2. You’re Overweight.  

Excess weight can place extra pressure on the bladder, which, combined with loss of muscle control, can lead to leakage. If you’re overweight and experiencing bladder leaks, try losing a few pounds – even a small amount can make a big difference. And your overall health will benefit too.

3. You Have Diabetes (or another neurological condition).

happens when there is a lack of bladder control due to a brain, spinal cord or nerve problem. This can be caused by a number of conditions, such as diabetes, MS, Parkinson’s disease, or spinal cord injury. Treatment options vary depending on your symptoms, but they do exist and should be seen to.

4. An Obstruction In Your Urinary Tract.

Again, this is most often caused by an enlarged prostate in men, but can also be due to a blood clots, tumors, bladder stones, or even scarring of the urethra caused by injury or surgery.  Blockage can cause urine to build up, leading to trouble urinating, leakage, and even distended bladder.

5. What You’re Consuming.

While what you eat or drink may not directly cause bladder leaks, if you’re already to prone to them, certain things you consume can make your symptoms worse. Excessive alcohol, certain medications, and caffeine all act as diuretics and can cause you to need to use the restroom more often. Other foods, like citrus foods, artificial sweeteners, and citrus foods can irritate the bladder, causing an increase need to go to the bathroom. This, combined with an existing bladder problem can lead to more leaks.

Men can sometimes have a difficult time speaking up about bladder issues, even to their doctor. And initial treatment options, such as using adult absorbent products, can seem foreign and uncomfortable.  But living with incontinence is no way to live, especially with so many treatment options available to you. If you struggle with #bladderleakage, learn more about your condition, and talk to your doctor about the options that exist for you so that you can continue to live the life you want.

Need help finding a physician who treats incontinence? Use our Doctor Finder Tool!

NAFC Launches New "Life Without Leaks" Campaign To Raise Awareness of Bladder Leakage/Incontinence

NAFC Launches Life Without Leaks Campaign To Raise Awareness Of Bladder Leakage and Incontinence

June 5, 2017, Charleston, SC:  The National Association For Continence launches new campaign, “Life Without Leaks”, to raise awareness of bladder leakage and urinary incontinence, and to urge people to seek treatment.

Laura’s bladder-leakage problem started early in life, shortly after she had kids. She would leak a little sometimes when she sneezed, ran, coughed or laughed, but just once in a while, and nothing to make her think it was a big deal. But as the years went by, Laura’s problem got worse. It progressed to the point to where she could not leave the house without packing an extra pair of clothes. She scouted out the nearest bathroom wherever she went. And she stopped doing some of the things that had mattered most to her – traveling with her husband, running, socializing with her friends and family. Slowly, her “little problem” had become it’s own prison – limiting Laura’s life and keeping her from doing the things she wanted.

Laura’s story is not uncommon. Millions of Americans live with some form of Bladder Leakage, yet few seek treatment for it. And while the issue may seem trivial to some, for those who struggle with bladder leakage and incontinence, it can be devastating. Apart from the obvious physical effects, bladder leakage can have a huge impact on emotional well-being. Many people are ashamed of the issue, and take great measures to hide it from friends, and even close family members.  As the condition worsens, people retreat further into their lives, limiting their social interaction for fear of having an accident. And the things they loved to do take a backseat to protecting their pride and hiding their problem from others.  Financial impact of the condition can also be damaging – the cost for supplies, productivity loss, and missed work can add up, causing even more distress.

NAFC’s new campaign, “Life Without Leaks”, is meant to show people that there is a light at the end of the tunnel – that they don’t have to live with bladder leakage and can take their life back again simply by getting educated and seeking treatment.  “We wanted to show people the life they may be missing due to bladder leakage – the one they may have even forgotten they once loved,” says Steven Gregg, Executive Director of NAFC.  “Urinary Incontinence is often a slow-building condition, getting worse as time goes by if left untreated. Many people who have it have made so many small adjustments over the years to compensate they may not even recognize what they’ve given up in order to hide their shame. We want to remind them of the life they once loved – to show them life is possible without leaks.”

NAFC launched the campaign’s first video in June, with more videos planned to launch through 2017. The campaign is supported through NAFC’s social channels, email, and their website. www.nafc.org. “We’re trying to raise awareness of this under-treated and little talked about condition,” says Gregg. “There are so many treatment options available for incontinence. We just need to get people to take that first step and seek them out.”

“Life Without Leaks”, has been funded through a sponsorship from Astellas.

Watch the “Life Without Leaks” first campaign video here, and follow along with the campaign on Facebook (www.facebook.com/BHealth.NAFC) or www.nafc.org/life-without-leaks

Ask The Expert: Are There Other Things Besides Prostate Trouble That Can Cause Incontinence In Men?

Prostate Trouble and Incontinence

Each month, we ask our expert panel to answer one of our reader's questions. To learn more about the NAFC Expert Panel, and how to submit your own question, see below.

Question: Are There Other Things Besides Prostate Trouble That Can Cause Incontinence In Men?

AnswerProstate problems in men typically get the blame for incontinence issues for good reason – many men experience issues with their prostate (BPH, prostate cancer) which can often cause incontinence, even if it’s just for a brief time. But there are other conditions that may be contributing to the root of the issue as well. Being overweight can put extra pressure on the bladder, which may cause leaks. Certain foods can also irritate the bladder, causing incontinence – especially if you’re already prone to the condition.  Additionally, neurological conditions, such as Parkinson’s or diabetes can lead to neurogenic bladder, where the brain is unable to communicate properly with the bladder. Even still, urinary tract infections or blockages can lead to bladder troubles.

The most important thing to consider is that incontinence is generally a symptom of something else, and can almost always be treated. If you’re experiencing bladder leaks, see your doctor today and ask for help. Your doctor will be able to dig deeper to find the root cause of your incontinence and work with you to find a solution.   

Are you an expert in incontinence care? Would you like to join the NAFC expert panel? Have a question you'd like answered? Contact us!

Men: Let's Talk About Bladder Leakage

Bladder Leakage And Men

You don’t really hear much about incontinence in men. Let’s face it – it’s not something that anyone ever really wants to talk about, but for men, it can be especially hard. Men are supposed to be tough. Caretakers. Leaders. Defenders. Admitting to something like incontinence can feel like a slap in the face. But it’s something that happens to everyone – not just women – and it isn’t something that anyone should have to live with. 

Unfortunately though, many do. As many as 15% of men living at home between the ages of 15-64 may have some type of incontinence.  

Men – if you struggle with bladder leakage, we urge you to speak up about it. This doesn’t mean shouting about it from the rooftops. But a frank discussion with your doctor or a loved one is a good start.

Here are 4 good reasons to talk to Someone about your incontinence:

You’ll get some emotional support.

Have you ever had something on your mind that weighed on you? Keeping your incontinence a secret can have big effects on your emotional well-being. Many people who live with incontinence become more reclusive as time goes on and the condition worsens. They avoid social activities, or don’t do the things they once enjoyed because they’re scared of having an embarrassing accident in public. But this can mean isolating themselves from others, and hurting some of their close relationships. 

Lean in to those close to you and let them know what’s going on. You’ll likely find that their support motivates you to take the next step in talking to your doctor, where you can finally find some treatment.  Still not ready to talk to someone close? Try our message boards. They're filled with lots of people who struggle with bladder leakage and can be a great resource when you need some tips on how to manage, thoughts on treatment options, or even when you just need a place to vent. Trust us, they know what you’re going through, and are a wonderful and caring community where you can share your concerns without judgment.

You can find out what’s actually causing Your bladder leaks.

In most cases, incontinence is not the real condition – it’s a symptom of something else.  Talking to a professional about it may help you uncover the true source of what’s going on, which could be something that’s easily treated, or something that’s far more serious than some light bladder leakage. Either way, finding out is better than living in the dark, and will help you get the treatment you need to be on your way to recovery.

You’ll learn about the incontinence treatments options available to you.

We’ve come a long way from adult diapers being the only treatment option. While absorbent products are still great management tools, there are many things you can do to actually treat the symptoms and avoid leaks all together. Diet and exercise changes, kegels (yes - they're good for men too!), medications, minimally invasive procedures, and even surgical options all exist. Learning more about your options will help you find something that works for you and your lifestyle, and can feel very empowering.

There’s no good reason not to discuss it.

With so many treatment options available to you these days, there’s really not a reason to stay silent. Yes, it will probably be an uncomfortable discussion at first, but it’s not one that your doctor hasn’t had before.  They hear from men who have this problem all the time. Talk with them and begin getting treatment so that you can get back to the activities you once enjoyed, instead of worrying about your bladder.

NAFC has some great resources that can help you as you begin getting treatment. Check them out below:

NAFC Bladder Diary

Talking about Incontinence

OAB Resource Center

Bedwetting Guide

Women's Health Month

Women's Health Month

May is Women's Health Month, and we're celebrating at NAFC by walking you through all the ways to keep yourself strong and healthy at every stage. Here's a breakdown of what you can expect from us this month:

Week 1:  We're talking about the early years and prevention! Learn about how to strengthen your pelvic floor before pregnancy.

Week 2: Pregnancy and childbirth can really do a number on your pelvic floor. Learn what you can do during pregnancy to prepare for childbirth, and what you can do after baby's here to regain your body.

Week 3: Peri-Menopause and Menopause are an inevitable part of every woman's life. And while hormones can cause major changes to your body, there are things you can do to make this transition as easy as possible.

Week 4: Life after menopause can be a great time for you if you make an effort to remain healthy and strong. Learn about the steps you can take to enjoy these years.

Plus, all month long we'll be shining the spotlight on OAB and sharing tips, tricks and articles to show you how to manage symptoms of overactive bladder.

Follow along with us on the BHealth Blog, and on Facebook and Twitter!

Could Alcohol Consumption Be Contributing To Your Incontinence Or Bedwetting Problem?

Alcohol and incontinence

Eric was 43 when he first woke up wet. He had no idea what had happened to him, but after a couple of minutes he realized:  he had wet the bed. He was shocked – this had never happened to him before and he had no idea why it was happening now.

The bedwetting continued a couple of times a month for a few months until he finally knew something had to be done.  He noticed that he seemed to only wet the bed after he had had a few drinks with his buddies during their regular poker night. “I don’t usually drink much, but I like to have a few beers with the guys during our regular hang out.  I decided to try switching to water for the next couple of poker nights just to see what would happen.” Sure enough, once he omitted the alcohol, things improved dramatically.

Eric’s situation is not uncommon. Over 35 million American adults suffer from incontinence, and nearly 5 million have a bedwetting problem. And, while alcohol cannot be attributed to all of these cases, it is definitely something to try omitting for a while if you do suffer from incontinence. Sometimes, simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.

Alcohol on it’s own doesn’t cause incontinence, but for those who are prone to bladder leaks, it can be a trigger.  Alcohol is a diuretic, which means that in increases the production of urine and can also cause a person to need to use the restroom more often. Not only that, alcohol irritates the bladder, which can make overactive bladder symptoms worse. It’s worth it to try eliminating alcohol if you have incontinence. (Especially if you tend to drink to excess.)

Alcohol isn’t the only thing you should watch out for if you struggle with bladder leakage. 

The following foods and drinks can also irritate the bladder

  • Caffeinated beverages like coffee and tea

  • Chocolate (it contains caffeine too!)

  • Carbonated drinks

  • Spicy foods

  • Citrus foods

  • Acidic foods, such as tomatoes

  • Cranberry juice

  • Sugar – including artificial sweeteners

  • Certain medications

If you are experiencing incontinence, try eliminating some of these foods from your diet to see if it makes a difference. It may help you to keep a bladder diary during this experiment to record how what you eat affects your bladder leaks. And if you experience bedwetting, definitely try skipping that nightly glass of wine. As Eric discovered, sometimes making simple lifestyle changes can make a huge difference.  “I’m dry again! I miss having a drink with the guys, but it’s something I can live without if it means I don’t wet the bed.”

Want a handy cheat sheet of foods to avoid if you have incontinence? Print out our free download of foods that may trigger incontinence and hang it on your fridge for easy reference!

Click Here To Print Your Guide

Depression And Incontinence

Depression And Incontinence World Health Day

Do you suffer from urinary incontinence? If you do, you are one of over 35 million Americans that live with the condition every day. Incontinence can be a mild inconvenience, or it can be a completely devastating condition that greatly restricts a person’s life. While there are many treatments that exist for incontinence, the condition holds a strong stigma and sense of extreme embarrassment and shame for those who live with it on a daily basis, which prevents them from discussing it with anyone – even their doctor.

When someone has severe incontinence, they are in constant fear of having an embarrassing accident.  Not making it to the restroom on time is always a concern and they seek out ways to ensure that they are always near a bathroom.  This can greatly restrict how much they are willing to travel from their home – even for work.  As a person becomes more and more reclusive due to their condition, they may suffer from anxiety, loneliness, and depression. Their relationships with friends, family, and work can all suffer. 

This is unfortunate since there are so many treatment options available to men and women these days. Behavioral modifications, medications, advanced therapies or surgeries can all be used to treat urinary incontinence effective.  There truly are some great tools available.

If you suffer from urinary incontinence, or depression, don’t continue to let it control your life. 

Here are some steps you can take to treat your depression. 

Talk to your doctor

This is really the first step. While it can be hard to open up about something so personal, doing so will put you on the path to recovery – for both incontinence and depression. 

Lose Weight

If you are carrying around a few extra pounds, it’s worth the effort to shed them, since the added weight can contribute to stress urinary incontinence, as well as weak pelvic floor muscles. 

Exercise  

Getting regular exercise is always a great idea. But, for urinary incontinence and depression it can have a doubly good effect.  Strengthening your pelvic floor muscles can give you greater control over urinary incontinence. Your pelvic muscles benefit from all types of exercises but working with a trained physical therapist can really help you to focus on them with specific moves and postural tips.  And, most exercises produce a chemical called endorphins, which can produce a positive feeling in the body. In fact, regular exercise has been shown to decrease symptoms of depression. And it doesn’t take much – just 30 minutes of an exercise like walking (or really, anything that you enjoy) 3-5 times a week can do the trick.

Look into medical treatment

There are medications that exist for both urinary incontinence and depression. Your doctor can talk with you about the different types available and work with you to find one that’s right for you. Additionally, advanced procedures like sacral neuromodulation, which uses mild electrical pulses to stimulate your sacral nerves, or Botox injections into the bladder, which can help to strengthen bladder control, may be an option for you.  There are also various surgical procedures that can be very effective in treating urinary incontinence.

Regardless of which outcome you choose, the most important thing to do is to take some sort of action. Life doesn’t have to be limited by incontinence and with the myriad of treatment options available there is no reason that it should be a source of depression.  Don’t let leaks rule your life!  Take control and get help today.

NAFC is proud to support the efforts of the World Health Organization today during World Health Day, 2017, which is focused on raising awareness of depression. If you or a loved one suffers from depression, talking about it can be a first step towards recovery.  Learn more about the 2017 World Health Day at www.who.int/campaigns/world-health-day/2017/en/

Can Reflexology Help With #BladderLeakage?

Can Reflexology Help With Bladder Leakage And Incontinence?

What is Reflexology?

Reflexology is a therapy that focuses on the small areas of your foot or hands that correspond to different areas of the body. In reflexology, it is believed that by massaging these specific areas, you may be able to alleviate certain ailments.

What Can I Expect when I see a Reflexologist?

Reflexology is a new concept for many people so don’t be scared to ask lots of questions! Your practitioner will likely conduct a thorough health history to make sure that reflexology is for you, and also to determine what issues you may be having so that he or she knows where to focus. Likely, the focus will be on the feet, hands, or ears, or some combination of the three.

The reflexologist may ask you to lie down, and may start by gently washing or soaking your feet in warm water.  If you are seeing the reflexologist for a specific condition, he or she may focus on that area, but will also work all points of the foot or hands, as this is thought to allow the all areas of the body to relax and promote greater healing.

Reflexology is relaxing to most people and can be a great stress reliever.

Does reflexology help with bladder control?

More research needs to be done on reflexology and bladder control, but some people believe that by focusing on the areas of the foot and hands that are associated with the bladder, you may be able to reduce bladder spasms which often cause an urgent and frequent need to use the restroom (also known as overactive bladder, or OAB).

Can I try Reflexology on my own?

While reflexology may be most effective when performed by a practitioner, you may be able to feel the benefits on your own, or with a partner. Check out the pressure points on the foot in this chart, and learn some great techniques to perform the practice at home.