Urinary incontinence affects about 25 million Americans, according to the National Association for Continence. And many of those people would rather struggle on their own than discuss the issue with their doctor. But it’s that head-in-the-sand approach that prevents them from treating and managing the condition. Here are six common incontinence misconceptions.
It’s true that urinary incontinence is common. More than half of adults will experience it at some point in their lives. But saying that it’s inevitable suggests that it can’t be treated when, in fact, urinary incontinence is treatable and manageable.
It’s normal to leak a little.
Especially for women who have given birth, this may seem like a fact of life. But when a woman leaks urine when coughing, laughing or exercising strenuously, it is called stress incontinence and typically is caused by either a weakness in the urethra or being overweight. This kind of incontinence usually can be treated with weight loss or pelvic floor exercises, which brings us to the next misconception.
Kegels are only for women.
Most women know that kegels exercises strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which helps prevent urinary leakage. But what most women—and men—don’t know is that they also can help men struggling with stress incontinence.
Drinking as little as possible is a good strategy.
It may seem logical to avoid liquids if you have issues with incontinence. However, dehydration is not an acceptable side effect of achieving control. Instead, experts recommend limiting liquids before heading out to an event or for two hours before bed. They also caution that alcohol and caffeine can make incontinence worse.
It can be fixed only with surgery.
This one is very, very wrong. Urinary incontinence sometimes is caused by conditions as simple (and treatable) as constipation or urinary tract infections. And it usually can be improved or controlled by weight loss, bladder training and medications.
It’s this attitude that leads to isolation. Rather than going to an art gallery with friends, you stay home to avoid an accident. You can’t take your child or grandchild to the park because there’s no restroom nearby. Wouldn’t it be better to address the problem? Reports indicate that about half of the people who experience urinary incontinence don’t report it to their doctor. Rather than discuss and treat the incredibly common condition, they suffer alone.
Many of us are embarrassed by issues like urinary incontinence. But it’s that fear that prevents us from living life to the fullest. There is no shame in being human, according to the National Association for Continence. So it's time we get past the embarrassment and get on with gaining control.
The first step? Contact us today to make an appointment with one of our physicians. Urinary incontinence is a condition that can be treated and managed. Let us help you regain control—of your bladder and your life.