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October 08, 2006

No Laughing Matter!

I was talking to a friend about a specialized clothing line that I have designed for people with incontinence. She was thrilled and shared with me that she would be one of the first to use the garments once it comes out. I have found it amazing to hear so many people divulge their "secret" to me after finding out what I do! It seems like a relief for them to unload the fact that they are dealing with incontinence in one way or another. I love how freely people are willing to talk to me about it!

I have read that as many as 25% of woman between the age of 15-64 report that they have experienced incontinence when the laugh, cough, sneeze or over-exert themselves. This is known as Stress Incontinence. For those who suffer from it, it is no laughing matter!Sneeze

Stress incontinence is one of those "personal" problems that women will rarely discuss freely, not even with their doctor or nurse practitioner. Many women chalk it up to be something that naturally occurs with age. But that isn't true. Stress incontinence is often preventable, significantly improved or even cured. It is certainly something that can me managed without damaging self-confidence or causing embarrassment.

I believe that the stigmatism that our society places on incontinence, and our silence in relationship to what it is and how we can treat it, is inhibiting people from reaching out for appropriate support. Continence Connection aims to raise awareness about all types of incontinence and how prevalent it is in our society. My hope is that our efforts will help encourage people to seek help, understand and gain knowledge about treatment options and find the most suitable continence products.

Stress incontinence is most commonly dealt with by doing pelvic floor exercises. The basic pelvic exercise that is easy to learn and practice is called the Kegel exercise. It's basically a squeeze and lifting method that ultimately helps work and strengthen the pelvic floor muscle. To do this exercise you can imagine trying to hold your urine as you may have in an urgent situation. Tighten the muscles as hard as you can and hold for 5-10 seconds. This exercise should be repeated 10-15 times with 5 second rest period in-between. Maybe you can only tighten and hold your muscles for a couple of seconds at the beginning with less rest seconds in-between. Try working up to longer and stronger hold times over time. If you make this a daily routine (it is recommended that you do this exercise 4-6 times/day), you will see a big improvements in as little as 10-14 days! You may find that your stress incontinence lessons or disappears.

It's important to take care of yourself if you are experiencing stress incontinence. Don't be afraid to talk with your healthcare provider about it to make sure there isn't any underlying medical condition bringing it on. This type of incontinence is very common following child birth as the stress of the birth may have weakened or damaged the pelvic floor. From bladder-retraining, muscle strengthening and even the use of aids and equipment there are solutions out there and I encourage you to seek them out through your doctor.

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