The excuses we give for not treating our incontinence and tips for overcoming them.
For many of us, leaking (aka peeing our pants unintentionally) when we sneeze, cough, giggle, jump, or exercise (pretty much just enjoying and living our lives) has become an acceptable norm. It’s part of being a woman and a mother, right? When lucky enough to feel the possibility of a leak, we take the preemptive step of crossing our legs, but at less fortunate moments, we quietly hope the leaking aftermath can be managed with the absorption power of a bundle of stiff toilet paper from the nearest public bathroom.
We nag our partner, kids, and parents to seek immediate treatment for their ailments, but what about taking meaningful steps toward solving our health problems?
I’ve spent a significant part of my professional career within the Urology space and have spoken with hundreds of women about incontinence and reasons why they have yet to seek treatment—The excuses given can be summed up by these four.
- I’m Too Busy to Dedicate Time to Treating: I hear you, sister! Between work, driving the kids to sports practice, and trying to make a healthy dinner, who has time to think about doing something for yourself?
- My Leaks Really Aren’t That Bad: I’ve heard women say “I don’t have incontinence, I only leak when I laugh, sneeze or exercise.” News flash, that’s incontinence. Things may be going ok just managing your leaks now, but as the months and years go by, the leaks will get worse, and reach a point of no return where surgery is your only option. Or worse, your leaks become so bad that there is no treatment to reduce them. So please don’t wait. If you are experiencing symptoms of incontinence, treat now… The biggest fear that everyone has is being that person who has to wear diapers.
- Incontinence Treatment is Too Expensive: Pads may seem cheap and cost-effective when you buy them one package at a time during your weekly Target run, but the annual costs of just managing incontinence add up. A National Institute of Health study reports the average yearly cost of managing incontinence (the pads, extra loads of laundry, etc.) at $750! And if incontinence symptoms continue to worsen, costly and risky surgery becomes the only treatment option. Are you willing to wait until that point?
- I’m Not Inserting Anything into My Body: I understand and feel the same way! As a mother of three, two of which were twin boys, I’ve personally experienced stress incontinence and treatment options requiring vaginal insertion are a non-starter for me. I’ve tried a vaginal device and felt “violated.”
Ready to flush your leaks, pads (figuratively speaking, of course) and excuses down the toilet?
Now that you know you’re not the only one that’s made excuses for not treating your incontinence, here are tips and recommendations for beginning your journey toward improved bladder control, pelvic floor health, and continence.
- Kegel exercises are the best first line of defense against leaks from a weak pelvic floor. They’re free, require nothing other than you, and support your reproductive organs and the organs that generate and get rid of our waste (kidneys, ureters, urinary bladder, and urethra). If you haven’t yet given Kegeling a try, check out this guide for how to do Kegel exercises correctly.
- Unfortunately, many women don’t do Kegel exercises correctly to see an improvement in bladder health. When this is the case, a physical therapist specializing in treating the pelvic floor can apply internal therapy to improve your pelvic floor function and continence. Sessions are typically once a week (sometimes twice a week) for 3-6 months.
- If PT appointments aren’t a good fit due to the time commitment, need for childcare, or preference for not having another person in your ‘Netherlands,’ a home-use device is another treatment alternative.
Making a Smart Home-Use Treatment Decision
While a home-use device has many benefits, it’s important to ensure the product you’re using is safe and effective. Here are key things to consider when looking to purchase a home-use device to treat incontinence:
- FDA approval or clearance — Medical devices cleared by the FDA assure consumers and healthcare providers of safety, effectiveness, and high-quality. You can read more about these classifications at gov. However, buyer beware; some FDA approved devices are being marketed to consumers for the treatment of incontinence, but they are not approved for incontinence treatment (i.e. lasers, injections, and Kegel vaginal trainers).
- Customer Reviews (from multiple sources) — Do your due diligence! Take a thorough look at customer reviews. What other women have to say about a product will be a good indication of effectiveness, ease of use, and what to expect from customer service if you have a question. And while you’re looking over customer reviews, it’s also a good idea to take a look at the products’ return policy. Some incontinence products require that they check for and confirm your daily use to accept your return.
- Ease of Use — You likely don’t want to have lengthy customer service calls or chat sessions before beginning use, so make sure you fully understand any assembly requirements and the specifics of how the product operates. Some devices may require accessories for use. Understand the cost, if any, of these accessories and their role in operating the device. If a spray or lubricant is required, consider things like how the substance is removed from your body, any odors, and if it’s hypo-allergenic.
- Your Doctor’s Opinion — When dealing with a health issue, it’s always a good idea to discuss a medical device that you’re considering using with a healthcare professional.
And Please Remember…
You have treatment options that can work, no matter your excuse!
To find a Physical Therapist (PT) who specializes in pelvic health near you, please visit our pratitioner directory at ptl.womenshealthapta.org. For more patient education information or if you are not sure whether you need a referral to see a physical therapist, please visit www.womenshealthapta.org/patients.
Ready to Explore?
If you’re ready to explore a home-use incontinence treatment device that checks all these boxes, take a look at ELITONE. It’s a new, non-vaginal device that’s clinically proven to reduce (and maybe even eliminate) leaks due to stress incontinence in as few as 6 weeks. Designed specifically for women, ELITONE can be worn under your clothing, so you can do other things, including walking the dog and cooking dinner, while receiving your short 20-minute treatment.
- Performs 100 muscle contractions per session.
- 9 out of 10 Gynecologists would recommend it to patients.
- 95% of women that have used it report having fewer leaks. Leaks per day were reduced by 71% on average.
#FemTech at its finest!
For more information, please visit elitone.com.