Living with incontinence can be challenging but it shouldn’t prevent you from having a good life. With the right mindset, the best incontinence products, and healthy lifestyle changes, you can still enjoy a long and joyful life ahead of you.
If you have been worrying about incontinence affecting you or your family’s routine, read on below. We have listed out all the essentials you need to know – from symptoms to watch out for to the best incontinence products – to help you face this medical challenge prepared and well-informed.
Signs of Bladder Incontinence
Signs and symptoms of bladder incontinence differ, depending on the specific type of incontinence. Some of the most common signs of bladder incontinence include:
- Feeling a sudden and strong urge to urinate
- Experiencing urine leaks during regular activities
- Experiencing urine leaks when the body is exerting effort (heavy lifting, coughing, exercising)
- Leaking urine during sexual activity
- Leaking urine without any warning
- Wetting the bed during sleep
Incontinence in Men
Urinary incontinence in men is often associated with prostate problems. As men age, the prostate gland grows bigger. When this happens, the urethra starts pushing the bladder out of its position, leading to incontinence problems. Other medical conditions such as infections and diabetes can also affect urine flow.
Incontinence in Women
Urinary incontinence affects twice as many women as men. Health events that are unique to women – pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause – increase the likelihood of experiencing incontinence.
These events cause significant changes in the urinary tract and its surrounding muscles. When these muscles become weaker, the urinary tract tries to cope by exerting more effort. The extra stress on the bladder can lead to urine leaks and loss of bladder control.
Teens and young women can also experience urinary incontinence. Younger women who participate in high-impact sports are more at risk of incontinence. Physical trauma can damage and weaken the pelvic muscles, leading to incontinence.
Incontinence in the Elderly
While urinary incontinence can happen to anyone at any age, it is most common among older adults. As the aging body adjusts to significant changes, the bladder no longer functions optimally. Medical conditions such as arthritis, Parkinson’s disease, and dementia can also increase the chances of incontinence.
Seniors who suffer from bladder problems deal with life-altering changes. Some of the most common challenges associated with incontinence in the elderly include:
Lifestyle changes are necessary to manage incontinence. Seniors who have incontinence will have to deal with minor inconveniences along with the extra cost of incontinence supplies. Minor home improvements may also be needed to make bathroom visits easier and safer.
Dealing with a medical problem can take a toll on your mental health. This can present emotional challenges like anxiety, depression, mood swings, and more.
Many people who suffer from incontinence feel embarrassed about their situation. They can also be fearful of experiencing leaking episodes in public. This can lead to social anxiety and withdrawal.
Is Urinary Incontinence a Normal Part of Aging?
It’s a common misconception to think that urinary incontinence is inevitable. While it is a common health problem in older adults, it shouldn’t be treated as a normal part of aging. There are many steps one can take to make this condition more manageable. There are also lifestyle changes you can make to help decrease the chances of developing incontinence.
Incontinence in the Elderly at Night
Nighttime incontinence can be dangerous for older adults. Frequent trips to the bathroom in the dark can lead to slips and falls without the proper safety precautions in place. To better manage incontinence in older adults, it is necessary to invest in incontinence products and implement fall prevention methods.
Bladder Incontinence Products
There are countless bladder incontinence products available on the market. Whether you have urinary or bowel incontinence, there won’t be a shortage of useful tools and resources for you.
If you are struggling to pay for incontinence supplies, there are a variety of programs to help offset the cost, and even some programs that offer free incontinence supplies.
Below are some of the essential items you need for incontinence management.
Pelvic Floor Stimulation Products
Pelvic floor stimulation products are designed to deliver small amounts of stimulation to the muscles and nerves of a woman’s pelvic floor. These devices help tighten and strengthen the muscles to improve bladder control.
Here are some of the most popular products for pelvic floor stimulation:
Innovo is a pair of shorts with smart technology that is designed to simulate 180 kegel contractions in 30 minutes. The non-invasive treatment is FDA-cleared and promises to eliminate bladder leaks in as little as four weeks. A kit – which includes a pair of shorts and a spray solution – is priced at $499.
Priced at $399, Elitone is a discreet device that provides non-invasive treatment for incontinence. It is worn on the pubic bone like a pad and provides gentle stimulation that contracts your pelvic floor muscles. It comes with a cable controller that offers different levels of treatment intensity.
Flyte is an intravaginal device that is shaped like a wand and worn like a tampon. It delivers gentle pulses to the pelvic floor muscles for better bladder control. Direct contact with the pelvic floor also provides a therapeutic stretch along with the contractions. Five minutes a day of treatment in a couple of weeks can produce major improvement. It is priced at $395.
Bladder Leakage Underwear
Bladder leakage underwear offers protection against leaks, so you can be more comfortable and confident while doing activities.
Some of the leading bladder leakage underwear brands on the market are:
Confitex offers leakproof underwear for men and women. Their highly absorbent underwears come in Everyday Absorbency, which holds at least 25 ml. of liquid, and Extra Absorbency, which holds at least 50 ml of liquid. A variety of styles are available – cotton full briefs, lace midi briefs, high-cut briefs, short trunks, and more. Prices range from $25.90 – $39.90.
Speax by Thinx are undies for women that are designed to hold period leaks and bladder leaks of up to 40 ml. of liquid. They come in different styles – high waist, hiphugger, french cut, bikini, and thong. They have a variety of colors available and sizes go up to 5XL. Prices range from $28 – $39.
Modibodi offers a wide variety of underwear choices for men, women, teens, kids, and nursing moms. They also have a great range of absorbency – from moisture-wicking for sweaty days to ultra-incontinence undies that can absorb 250 ml. of liquid. Sizes are inclusive and range from 2XS to 6XL in most styles. Prices range from $24 – $47.
There are countless adult diaper or adult brief options in the market. To make your search easier, it is best to consider your specific needs and budget. Some of the most popular brands are listed below:
Depend offers a wide range of adult diapers for both men and women. You can choose from different absorbency levels – from light to overnight. Incontinence briefs are also available in different designs. They have sleek underwear pads for ultra-thin protection and briefs with adhesive tabs for easier changes and maximum absorbency. Briefs for men and women also come in stylish designs for all-day confidence. Prices range from $11.97 – $49.59. To help you find the best style for your needs, order a free sample online.
Tena carries incontinence pads and incontinence underwear briefs for men and women. They offer a wide range of absorbency – for light urine leaks and heavier and more absorbent pads for overnight incontinence. Incontinence guards with a cup-shaped design are also available for men. One pack ranges from $7.99 – $47.99. Free samples are also available to order on their website.
For those looking for ultimate leak protection, LivDry offers premium briefs that can hold heavy incontinence leaks. With insertable pads, absorbency can be adjusted according to your needs. Thin pads for lighter incontinence are also available. Prices for briefs are $39.99 – $54. They also have a line of protective underwear, with prices starting at $28.
Bladder Incontinence Exercises
One of the best ways to manage incontinence is to do bladder incontinence exercises. According to experts, doing exercises improves bladder control and can even improve sexual performance. With the right lifestyle changes and proper exercises, incontinence can improve.
Here are some of the exercises you can do to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles. If you are a caregiver to a loved one with incontinence, carefully guide them through the steps below:
To contract your pelvic floor muscles, imagine the feeling of stopping your urine midstream. Contract your muscles and keep them tight for three seconds. Release and relax for three seconds, then start again. Do 10 – 15 repetitions daily and increase the sets as you get more comfortable. Both men and women can perform this exercise.
Quickly clench your pelvic floor muscles like you are squeezing something on the inside. Release immediately. Repeat this action ten times and do two to three sets in a day. This exercise trains your fast-twitch muscles to react quickly and be stronger to stop leaks.
Practicing diaphragmatic breathing helps relax the pelvic floor and reduce overall tension. Start by lying on your back. Place one hand on the chest and the other on your belly. Take a deep breath and feel the rise of your belly. Exhale and relax your belly. Do 10 repetitions throughout the day.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Slowly bend your knees and get as low as it is comfortable. Make sure to lean forward slightly and keep your back straight. Tighten your buttocks and pelvic floor while returning back to a standing position. Repeat 10 times.
Lie down on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Place your arms at your side, with your palms facing downward. Contract your buttocks and pelvic floor while lifting your hips up. Hold this pose for 3-8 seconds while keeping your pelvic floor muscles contracted. Relax and release while slowly lowering your hips back to the ground. Repeat 10 times.
Risk Factors for Bladder Incontinence
Certain factors can increase the risk of your likelihood of becoming incontinent of bladder. Your chances of having incontinence increase if you:
- are older
- are overweight
- are a smoker
- are a woman who has gone through pregnancy, childbirth, or menopause
- have a family history of incontinence
- have diabetes and other medical issues
- have prostate problems
- have bladder injury
- have had pelvic surgery
- have neurological issues
- take certain drugs
While some of these risk factors are preventable, some are not. Talk with your physician if you are concerned about your risk of incontinence.
How to Not Smell Like Pee Living With Incontinence
Maintenance and hygiene are essential when you are living with incontinence. Maintaining proper hygiene and cleanliness not only keeps your home smelling fresh, but it also keeps bacteria away.
Here are some tips to help reduce urine odor in your home:
- Drink an adequate amount of water to dilute your urine and reduce its odor.
- Avoid drinking coffee and alcohol, or eating foods like asparagus, which can contribute to strong-smelling urine.
- Neutralize odor with deodorizing pills such as Nullo, Derifil, and Vitamin C tablets.
- If you wear pads or adult briefs, make sure to change them often. Also, change and launder soiled clothing and bedding right away.
- Use enzymatic cleaners to eliminate urine odor and disinfect surfaces regularly.
- To get eliminate stubborn odors on bedding and clothing, clean them by adding Borax to the washing machine with your regular detergent.
- Use an air freshener, potpourri, or incense around the house to keep the smell away.
- Be diligent about your hygiene. Always clean thoroughly after each incontinence episode.
Having incontinence doesn’t have to stop you from living your best life, no matter your age. While this medical issue comes with challenges, it can be managed with a few lifestyle changes.
Having the right incontinence products on hand, doing pelvic floor exercises regularly, and keeping a positive mindset can all help make life with incontinence better and less stressful.
Living with Incontinence Frequently Asked Questions
Weakened bladder muscles, damage to the pelvic floor, enlarged prostate, and menopause are just some of the most common causes of incontinence. Aging, health events, and other medical issues can also increase the risk of becoming incontinent.
Urinary incontinence affects the quality of life of an individual and sometimes the people around them. Regular daily routines can be interrupted because of leaks and frequent bathroom visits. This can lead to social anxiety, isolation, and feelings of loneliness.
To make living with incontinence more manageable, incontinence products such as diapers, briefs, pads, and leak-proof underwear are essential. Pelvic floor stimulation products are also available to help you strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and improve bladder control.
Depending on several factors, incontinence can be temporary or permanent. But with dietary and lifestyle changes, it can get better. Medical treatments may also be available for some people.
Amie Clark, BSW
Aging Advocate and Senior Care Expert
Amie has worked with older adults and their families for the past twenty-plus years of her career. Her senior care knowledge is based on her experience as a social worker, family caregiver, and senior care consultant. Learn more about Amie here.