Stress incontinence is when you leak small amounts of urine while doing any strenuous physical activity. At times, these activities are as insignificant as coughing, sneezing, or laughing. But because doing all this puts extra pressure on your bladder and abdomen, the leak is inevitable. And you might be left feeling helpless.
Moreover, you are not keen to talk about this issue with any of your friends or family. We understand it can be a teeny bit embarrassing. Or you already did talk to some of them and they presented you with some hopeless advice. Whatever the case, none of that changes the fact that you need help. Why not consult an expert doctor for this? Yes, some doctors specialise in treating such conditions.
And before you rush to one, we thought you might need to clear your head of similar misconceptions or confusions. We have listed some misconceptions related to stress incontinence and debunked them with relevant facts. Go on, read them, and talk to your doctor today!
Let’s discuss common myths about stress incontinence in women:
Myth 1: It is a normal part of aging for women
No, it’s not! Because it is a normal health condition that is more prevalent in women due to hormonal changes. Aging does not necessarily mean that you have to encounter every other disease on the planet. Stress incontinence is caused by the weakness of your pelvic floor muscles which fail to support your pelvic floor organs such as bladder and uterus. You may have seen or heard more aged women getting this condition. It is generally because an already weak pelvic musculature gets accompanied by imbalanced hormones during and after menopause. The estrogen hormone can be a deciding factor in the health of muscles in women and their depleting levels weaken the muscles. When all of the unfavorable factors combine, then comes the rain!
Myth 2: Surgery is the only real treatment for stress incontinence
Surgery is actually the last resort for treating this condition. It is only suggested by doctors when the patient’s symptoms do not improve to any other treatment or the patient is physically incapable to follow other treatment options. The other options include:
Pelvic floor exercise:
Kegel’s exercises that involve contracting and relaxing pelvic floor muscles at regular intervals to strengthen them. Ask your doctor about the right way to do it and repeat them as asked.
Switching to healthy and nutritious food and drinks can also strengthen our muscles. Good food includes simply cooked meals, fresh fruits, and fiber-rich diet. Avoiding things that do not work in the best interest of your body is also part of nutritional awareness. This often includes abstaining from or reducing harmful substances such as alcohol, tobacco, etc.
The compression garments are designed to provide continuous support to the lower back and pelvic floor muscles through anatomically placed compression panels. They are ideal for maternity workouts, relaxing, or even for formal occasions.
Some medications suggested by your doctor help with bladder muscle control. And the way patients’ bodies react to these medicines varies from individual to individual.
Myth 3: Restricting your fluid intake will work best
No. Restricting fluids is only going to give you constipation, which will further complicate the condition. Constipations are bad for the pelvic floor muscles because they need to strain to throw the feces out. The weaker the muscles, the worse the incontinence. And less fluid intake is not going to help retain it inside the bladder. Turning to exercise and healthy nutrition is the better option rather than depriving yourself of water or any other fluid except alcohol.
Myth 4: When you have stress incontinence, absorbent products are a must
Women often assume that absorbent pads are the only solution. If your incontinence is that severe and you have to attend a specific occasion, your doctor will also suggest you use an absorbent pad. While they can temporarily help you not be embarrassed in a social gathering, they aren’t the ultimate solution. You need to exercise to strengthen your muscles. If exercise is not a possible option for you due to any neurological condition, you may be advised to take some medications. And if that doesn’t work, surgery can solve your troubles longer than an absorbent pad.
Myth 5: Stress urinary incontinence is caused by a smaller bladder
This is not true. Most of the women who experience stress urinary incontinence have perfectly sized bladders. It is just the weak pelvic floor muscles that make them leak urine at the most awkward times. The health of the bladder muscles is also a contributing factor. But if the pelvic floor muscles are strong, they don’t make a major difference. Hence, instead of worrying about the size of your bladder, you must get yourself examined by an experienced doctor or healthcare practitioner.
Myth 6: Stress incontinence is caused by childbirth
Childbirth can pressurise and traumatise the pelvic floor muscles which in turn leads to incontinence during and shortly after pregnancy for many women. But this incontinence is usually temporary and gets corrected with time naturally if your pelvic floor muscles are normal. Many of the women reporting stress incontinence have never had children before. This proves that it is not childbirth only that gives you incontinence. Again, it is all about the muscles that surround your pelvic region!
See? What seemed highly intimidating and embarrassing in the beginning, turned out to be yet another health issue that can be taken care of by experienced doctors or healthcare professionals. Hence, it’s important to get the facts straight before forming any opinions about health conditions. Stress incontinence can be uncomfortable, but it can also be cured with proper treatment.