Many women have been there or know women who have: You’re laughing to the point of tears, or you’re jumping up and down during a workout, when suddenly…oops.
Leaking urine, especially as we age, is something many women have experienced from time to time. But when do these accidents mean something more? National Women's Health Week (#NWHW #FindYourHealth) is the perfect time to examine this issue, one that affects millions of women every day.
Urinary incontinence, or UI, is the technical name for the involuntary loss of urine. Women may say they have “a weak bladder” or “bladder leakage.” While these aren’t medical terms, they refer to the same condition. Urinary incontinence can be mild—just a few drops, or severe—a large volume of urine leakage or the complete loss of a full bladder.
UI affects women of all ages and may be related to hormonal changes, such as menopause, or to childbirth or injury to the pelvic floor, the group of muscles and connective tissues nested inside the pelvis. If left untreated, UI can progress and worsen over time, even if it seems to wax and wane over shorter periods of time. The severity and the number of women who report incontinence increases with age—from 37% of women in their 30s up to 64% of women in their 80s reporting symptoms.
While UI is common—affecting over 20 million women in the U.S. and 250 million women worldwide—it does not need to be normal, and it can have significant negative impacts on women’s lives. The uncertainty and unpredictability that come with UI can affect women’s mental health, quality of life and relationships. Women may limit their physical activity or social engagements, experience feelings of isolation and distress and/or experience problems with intimacy. The financial burden is significant as well. Women with UI report spending $500+ each year on pads and protective garments, laundry and dry cleaning. The global $12 billion adult diaper market is a grim reality.
Despite these real, life-altering implications of UI, too many millions of women “just live with it.” Some are embarrassed or reluctant to discuss their symptoms with their doctors. Others know that pelvic floor muscle exercises, commonly referred to as Kegels, can help train muscles to reduce involuntary bladder leaks. Despite this, there is significant under-utilization of these exercise programs and many women find them difficult to perform on their own.
Pelvic floor muscle training (PFMT) involves a program of exercises that is typically supervised and followed regularly for a period of several weeks or months. This is much different than “doing your Kegels here and there”, at a stoplight, or every few weeks when you happen to remember them. Women who complete PFMT are significantly more likely to report cure or improvement of symptoms when compared to those who do not.
There are several options for completing an effective PFMT program. Seeing a specialized pelvic health provider – such as a physical therapist, occupational therapist, or other advanced practice provider - can be a great option for exercise instruction, supervision, and program design!
A few places to look for a skilled pelvic health provider near you are the following websites: PT Locator from APTA Academy of Abdominal and Pelvic Health, Herman and Wallace Pelvic Rehabilitation Institute Provider Directory, and the Pelvic Guru Provider Directory.
Alternatively, your healthcare provider may provide you with information about a home pelvic floor exercise program. There are also smartphone applications and devices available to help you with daily practice! Not all devices are created equal, however. Aim for an FDA-cleared device supported by published data and clinical studies that allows your healthcare provider to participate in your journey. I’m clearly partial to our device at Renovia, as it checks those boxes noted previously, has several features designed to support successful PFMT, and is unique in using real-time visualization of movement during muscle contraction and relaxation as the primary way of delivering feedback.
In addition to training pelvic floor muscles, it is helpful to avoid or quit smoking, to maintain a healthy weight and to exercise regularly. Managing your diet and fluid intake is also important. Certain foods and caffeine, alcohol and carbonated drinks may irritate your bladder and worsen symptoms.
If you or someone you know has UI and wants to do something about it, this is a great time to act! Effective treatments are available to help you take charge of your UI. This quiz can help you rate your bladder health and provide a better picture of how UI may be affecting your life. Remember: bladder health is just another component of your overall health. So, talk to your healthcare provider about your specific symptoms and learn about treatment options that are available to you.
If you’re one of the millions of women affected by UI, it’s important to realize that moderate to severe symptoms of urine leakage do not need to be accepted as normal. The good news is that if it bothers you and limits how you live your life, you can do something about it! Treatment is within reach – including many drug-free and non-surgical options – making it easier than ever to take control of your pelvic floor health. Go #FindYourHealth!
#NWHM #FindYourHealth #WomensHealth
Important Safety Information
The leva Pelvic Health System is intended for: (i) strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles; and (ii) rehabilitation and training of weak pelvic floor muscles for the treatment of stress, mixed and mild to moderate urgency urinary incontinence (including overactive bladder) in women. This product interacts with the user via smartphone technology.
Important Safety Information for leva Pelvic Health System: Do not share the leva system. leva is a single-user medical device. Do not use the leva Pelvic Health System while pregnant, or if you think you may be pregnant, unless authorized by your healthcare provider. Do not leave the leva wand in your body for longer than necessary to complete the training session. Remove the wand after each training session. Do not use the leva Pelvic Health System in any other place in your body. Do not have sexual intercourse while the leva wand is inserted. If you experience odor, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, any signs of infections or any flu-like symptoms, contact your doctor immediately. If you experience redness or swelling near the insertion area, or signs of an allergic reaction, contact your healthcare provider immediately. For a complete summary of the risks and instructions for leva, see its Instructions for Use available at Renovia’s website. Treatment with leva Pelvic Health System is prescribed by your healthcare provider. This treatment is not for everyone. Please talk to your healthcare provider to see if it is right for you. Your healthcare provider should discuss all potential benefits and risks with you.
Renovia warrants the leva® Pelvic Health System (“leva” or the “device”) against defects in materials and workmanship for twelve (12) months from the date of original purchase. Alleged defects must be reported to Renovia by the original purchaser prior to the end of the warranty. Warranty claims must be supported with reasonable evidence of the claimed defect. Renovia may require the device be returned and if required, will provide customer with a Return Material Authorization number, which must be displayed on the outside packaging sent to Renovia.
Renovia reserves the right to determine whether to repair or replace a device determined to be defective. In the event of replacement, the warranty period of the replacement device will be run from the date of the original purchase. Repair or replacement of your device will not extend the time period of this limited warranty.
This limited warranty does not cover cosmetic or battery deterioration or damage caused by excessive wear and tear, physical or natural destruction, accident, misuse, neglect or other external causes. Any attempt to disassemble the device will invalidate this limited warranty and any use of the device that is contrary to its Instructions for Use (available on Renovia’s website) may invalidate this limited warranty.
REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT OF THE DEVICE OR ITS AFFECTED COMPONENT ARE THE EXCLUSIVE REMEDIES PROVIDED IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE PURCHASE AND USE OF THE DEVICE. TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY LAW, THIS WARRANTY AND THE REMEDIES SET FORTH ARE EXCLUSIVE AND IN LIEU OF ALL OTHER WARRANTIES, REMEDIES AND CONDITIONS, WHETHER ORAL, WRITTEN, STATUTORY, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED. RENOVIA DISCLAIMS ALL STATUTORY AND IMPLIED WARRANTIES, INCLUDING WITHOUT LIMITATION, WARRANTIES OF MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE AND WARRANTIES AGAINST HIDDEN OR LATENT DEFECTS. IN SO FAR AS SUCH WARRANTIES CANNOT BE DISCLAIMED, RENOVIA LIMITS THE DURATION AND REMEDIES OF SUCH WARRANTIES TO THE DURATION OF THIS EXPRESS WARRANTY AND, AT RENOVIA’S OPTION, REPAIR OR REPLACEMENT AS DESCRIBED ABOVE. SOME STATES DO NOT ALLOW CERTAIN WARRANTY LIMITATIONS, SO THE LIMITATION DESCRIBED ABOVE MAY NOT APPLY TO YOU.
Please contact Renovia to confirm the terms of this Limited Warranty prior to purchase. Renovia reserves the right, at its discretion, to modify its terms at any time prior to your purchase.