By Suzi Grant Of Alternative Ageing
Well, that got your attention, didn’t it?! 1 in 3 women suffer from the odd leak, especially those who have had children, from spring chickens to silver foxes. Although I haven’t had babies, I have always suffered from a weak bladder and occasionally have just peed my pants I’ve been laughing so much.
The first time I peed my pants was when I was 17 years old, in the street! Thank goodness I was wearing tights. Nowadays, although the urges are worse, I have followed all of my own advice below and listened to my doctor, so it’s only an odd trickle.
Whether you can’t wait till you get to the loo, or you leak when you exercise, laugh or sneeze. whatever causes those little dribbles, or worse, I hope this article will help you. I originally did all the research for my book Alternative Ageing, as it’s such a common problem, but have added some new suggestions you might like to try. And there will be photos of me in my underwear – you have been warned!
First, the types of bladder incontinence (hate that word):
STRESS URINARY INCONTINENCE: urine leaks when you sneeze, cough, laugh or strain. Very common in women after childbirth when their pelvic floor muscles have weakened.
MIXED URINARY INCONTINENCE: the same as stress incontinence with the added aggravation of needing to wee urgently.
URGE URINARY INCONTINENCE: a leakage of urine shortly after a very intense need to wee, usually occurs after the age of 60 but happened to me a lot earlier.
OVERACTIVE BLADDER: a frequent & urgent need to empty your bladder, when it isn’t full. I think I’ve suffered from this all my life putting it down to having a small bladder. But my doctor helped and, thanks to her, I’ve trained my bladder well. Advice coming up.
Related: The Incontinence Comedian – Elaine Miller of Gusset Grippers
WHAT TO DO
Pelvic floor muscle exercises are the first thing to try as they strengthen & re-train the pelvic floor and sphincter muscles. Your doctor, a physiotherapist, pilates or yoga teacher or fitness instructor will be able to teach you to do it properly. In fact, according to a study published in The Science Daily researchers found patients who completed at least five pelvic floor therapy sessions reported an average of 80 percent improvement in urinary incontinence. So first step, see an expert.
D.I.Y: Here’s what my doctor advised me to do: every time you go to the loo, tense your pelvic muscles and stop the flow of urine for a few seconds, mid stream, before allowing it to flow again. You can also practise tightening your pelvic muscles standing at the bus stop or in a queue. She also told me to stop obeying my urge incontinence by waiting & ignoring the need to pee. You can train your mind & therefore your bladder. Both of these suggestions have worked really well for me (as I sit writing away needing to go to the loo!).
LOSE WEIGHT: excessive weight will add pressure to the bladder.
STOP SMOKING: I don’t know why this would help, but we shouldn’t be doing it anyway!
LIMIT CAFFEINE & ALCOHOL: the best advice I have ever been given was by a gynaecologist who explained that both are as irritating to an unstable bladder as cactus spikes!
AVOID OR CUT DOWN: fizzy drinks, sugar & fruit juice. They are all irritating. But…….
DON’T SKIMP ON YOUR WATER INTAKE: as it’s essential for your kidneys to function properly and doesn’t act as either a diuretic or a cactus spike. Your bladder will get used to it, but make sure the water’s body temperature and not too cold as that can shock your system.
TRY PUMPKIN SEEDS & PUMPKIN SEED OIL: I have no real scientific evidence on either but we all know how pumpkin seeds are constantly recommended for men’s prostate health, because of their high zinc content. It’s also well documented that pumpkin seed oil, because of it’s high Omega 3 & 6 content, as well as Vitamins E and A & zinc keeps skin and tissues soft and may alleviate bladder and prostrate problems. It can’t hurt & has got be worth a try.
TRY BEE POLLEN: this is one supplement I have tried in the past that really seemed to work. Sadly, the manufacturer has gone out of business but my symptoms certainly improved within a couple of weeks. I have no idea why or how it works but it does. You just need to make sure to find a bee pollen that’s been produced for this particular problem & to follow the instructions very carefully. There’s more research on a site I found mentioning one particular brand, Melbrosia. I haven’t tried it, but the research looks good.
Take 1-2 teaspoons daily. But build up very slowly, starting with a few granules, as bee pollen can cause bloating or loose bowels.
VITAMIN D: make sure you get that 15 minutes in the sun, if you’re not taking Vitamin D as a supplement. According to a 2010 study published in Obstetrics and Gynaecology, women with higher levels of vitamin D had a lower risk of developing pelvic floor disorders, including urinary incontinence.
Finally, MAGNESIUM: make sure you’re taking enough. It’s important for muscle relaxation (& every cell in your body) so if you suffer from leg cramps at night, you probably need it. It may help to reduce bladder muscle spasms and help with emptying the bladder. But regardless of whether it does or not, it’s so important for women, and men, that I’ve written a whole blog on it here: The Wonders of Magnesium. You might also like to get into Epsom Bath Salts, for both relaxing muscles & getting more magnesium into your blood stream via your skin.
VAGINAL MESH IMPLANT
I didn’t even know this operation existed till I read an article written by Kath Samson for the Mutton Club. I found it an absolutely horrifying revelation. If you have severe problems, and nothing has worked for you, please read this article if your problem’s so bad that you’re contemplating this operation. Kath is running a health campaign to raise awareness of the risks of this operation. ‘Women are told it will change their lives’, she says, ‘and it will, but maybe not in the way you expect,’ she adds. She has nearly 3,000 members on her Facebook support group called Sling The Mesh, so please read everything you can from this well-researched journalist before being talked into this op by your doctor.
So, you’re trying all the suggestions: flexing your pelvic muscles, doing Yoga or Pilates regularly, trying various supplements, what else is out there? There are some wonderful knickers out there, that’s what! Hence all the photos of me prancing around in my underwear. I cringe every time I see ads on TV for incontinence pads and I run past the piles of pads & liners on sale in the pharmacy. Thankfully, there’s a more comfortable & definitely sexier alternative to bulging pads. These Icon panties have a built in lining that holds up to 8 teaspoons of urine and keeps you dry and odour-free. I wear them as ordinary panties and don’t feel like I’m wearing a nappy or even a thick panty-liner & if I can’t make it to the loo in time, and have a trickle, I’m left as dry as a bone!
I like big pants, so the hi-waist panties I’m wearing in the photos are just my style, but Icon also sells thongs, hip huggers & bikini styles: any shape for any shape!
I like Icon’s ethics too. They’re helping the Fistula Foundation in developing countries by donating a part of the profit from every single pair of Icon panties sold.
But most important of all, these panties are like that old Mars ad: you really can work, rest and play in these knickers without a care in the world. So if worst comes to worst and you’ve peed your pants, it’s not the end of the world.
This original post was sponsored by Icon Undies, but you know that I never, ever, accept payment or freebies unless I genuinely love the product, really believe in it or would buy it myself. These are one pair of knickers I would buy for myself!
Meanwhile, I would love to hear your stories about leaky bladders and anything else you dare share on here. It’s time to carry on wearing whatever we like, without a care in the world!
This post first appeared on AlternativeAgeing.net.
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Rachel Lankester is the founder of Magnificent Midlife, author, host of the Magnificent Midlife Podcast, a midlife mentor and editor of the Mutton Club online magazine. After an initially devastating early menopause at 41, she dedicated herself to helping women vibrantly transition through the sometimes messy middle of life, helping them cope better with menopause and ageing in general, and create magnificent next chapters. She’s been featured in/on BBC Woman’s Hour, The Huffington Post, The Sunday Times, Thrive Global, Authority Magazine, The Age Buster, Woman’s Weekly, Prima Magazine, eShe, Tatler HK and Woman’s Own amongst others. She believes we just get better with age. Get her book Magnificent Midlife: Transform Your Middle Years, Menopause and Beyond.
Last Updated on February 1, 2023 by Editorial Staff