Bladder weakness and urinary incontinence in ladies is a rarely spoken about topic even in today’s forward thinking society. Which is baffling, as there are millions of women of all ages affected by this condition, both in the UK and worldwide. So many women feel too embarrassed to mention it, either to their partners or even their doctor, which is such a shame as there is so much can be done to alleviate the symptoms. So when I was asked by Tena to write a blog about this condition I thought it was a great opportunity to speak about it publicly and about my own experience.
Female incontinence can be caused by many conditions and it isn’t just elderly ladies who suffer. In fact I once watched an episode of Loose Women where the panel of successful, healthy, celebrity women in their 40’s / 50’s all admitted they had issues with bladder weakness. Incontinence can be caused by medical issues such as diabetes, neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis, pregnancy and menopause. Even a severe cough during a bad bout of flu can cause bladder weakness, so its worth noting that potentially this can affect us all, at any time of our lives. It is said that one in five women over the age of 40 have stress incontinence and can experience some form of accidental leakage.
So onto my personal story and why I am keen to discuss this taboo issue on my blog and, to promote the idea that your life does not have to change if you suffer from this condition. For me I had my first bout of bladder weakness after the birth of my first daughter thirty one years ago. I had had a difficult induced labour because of ill health which then resulted in a traumatic forceps delivery. Back then ( in the old days !) we were encouraged to begin our pelvic floor exercises as soon as our six week check was done. I did these for a few weeks and like most other women I started to neglect to do them, thinking that I would be ok. After all, I was young, healthy and sporty and that ‘kind of thing’ only happened to really old ladies. How wrong I was !
So I battled through intermittent bladder weakness through my twenties with another two babies quickly following the first. All my babies were on the larger size and I myself am only 5 foot 3 inches. I was very sporty through my twenties and thirties, playing a lot of tennis about four times a week and there were times that I had ‘little accidents’. Don’t even remind me of the times I went onto bouncy castles and trampolines with my daughters and found myself in a difficult and embarrassing situation, shall we say !
Fast forward to the current day and I am 54 years old but still with a young outlook on life. I enjoy keeping fit and going out on adventures but of course my body is not ‘ as young as it used to be’. This year in March I succumbed to a really nasty bout of flu which included the ‘cough from hell’ which went on for ten weeks ! During this time I suddenly felt ‘my insides’ drop which was the weirdest, scariest feeling ever. At the same time I noticed that my bladder wasn’t behaving as it should and I kept having little accidents when I coughed, sneezed and did anything remotely active. After a quick visit to the doctor I was informed I had a bladder prolapse which was a huge shock to me, although not unexpected. My doctor told me that this was likely caused by the violent coughing I had been enduring over the last two months. It was at this point that I realised I had to take more care with my body, as I wasn’t prepared to give up my activities and lifestyle. I had so much more I wanted to do and experience and I was determined a little thing called bladder weakness was not going to stop me.
First of all I decided to take my pelvic floor exercises seriously. And I mean SERIOUSLY ! There is no point doing these half heartedly, hoping that a couple of days of squeezing your lady bits will sort out your issues for ever. Nope, it doesn’t work like that. Honestly, you HAVE to do your pelvic floor exercises EVERY day with no exception. And they really do work if you do them regular and properly. I am amazed at how they can vastly improve most simple bladder weakness conditions. Of course there are some conditions that cannot be helped by pelvic floor exercises but your doctor should be able to tell you if you will benefit from them. I can wholeheartedly recommend a phone App called Squeezy which has been created by the NHS to help people do their pelvic floor exercises regularly and properly. I use this App three times a day and it really works for me as I am terrible at remembering to do the exercises. This App has helped me so much in improving both my bladder prolapse and my bladder weakness, so please give it a go ladies. It may just work for you too.
As you know from my previous blogs I am a very active, on the go type of person. I love to keep fit and I enjoy yoga, pilates, tennis, golf, dancing, cycling, working in the gym and walking my dog. We love to go rambling in North Yorkshire where we live, especially across the North Yorks Moors. I honestly can’t see me stopping these activities for many years, as I think keeping fit and healthy is key as we get older. It also keeps the excess weight off which can be an issue for many women when they hit menopause.
It can be a real issue for women with bladder weakness when they want to still pursue an active life. Living in fear of an accidental leakage, however small, can stop women from their daily life and consequently their enjoyment of life. This can lead to anxiety and depression as women become isolated from friends and a good quality of life. Cutting down your fluid intake is not the answer as this can cause other health issues, such as urinary tract infections.
So, for this reason it is imperative that you choose a good, reliable protective pad that offers protection, controls odour and is discreet. I have tried many products on the market as I want to be confident in carrying on with my activities without the worry of ‘what may happen’ and really there is only Tena Lady that I can rely on. With over fifty years of experience designing protective products for men and women Tena really are the market leader in this field.
Also Tena produce so many different products for different issues, so there will always be a product that you can find for your needs. They have a really informative website which will help you decide which is the best product for you, and best of all you can order free samples ! Most of the products now offer three times the protection, which, for most women is absolutely crucial. When I am running around the tennis court in a short white tennis dress I don’t want to be worried about what might happen if I have a ‘little leak’ from all that running !
Some of the Tena products are now designed to be 20% thinner while still remaining just as secure. This is great, if like me you enjoy sports and like to wear trendy sports wear which means you feel a little exposed ( if you get my drift ladies !) For my condition at the moment I use the Tena Lights which are just brilliant for when I am active, either playing tennis or during my yoga sessions. They are even individually wrapped, so great just to pop in your handbag when travelling.
I am a great believer in enjoying life to the full but I also know that something like bladder weakness can seriously stop us from fulfilling our potential. We all have activities we want to pursue and adventures we want to go on and this doesn’t have to change because of urinary incontinence. Please don’t sit in silence like I did, embarrassed and uncomfortable, feeling like my life was over. This is more common than you think, so you are not the only one. Visit your doctor for advice, find the right protection that makes you feel secure and comfortable, and get out there and live your life as before ! Life really is for living, whatever your age and you deserve nothing less.
For more information and to order your free sample please visit the fantastic Tena website at http://www.tena.co.uk
Please comment below about your own experiences. I love to read your comments and you may also help another lady who is reading this blog.
Please be aware I am not medically trained and if you have any concerns about your health please see your GP.
Until next time dear friends
- This post was a collaboration with Tena but my opinions and views are totally my own and are honest and true.