[One of the occasional series of posts about my typical day.]
THAT is something I sort of want to skip over. In fact, it is one of the reasons I’m not using my name on this blog…I somehow doubt this would be the ideal post for a potential employer to read ;)
So far, in the “typical day” we’re going through, I’ve woken up, turned off the CPAP, done some stretches, had some “sweaty snugglebunnies” with the man of the house, used my inhaler, taken my vitamins, worked out with an aerobics tape, and showered & dried off. 7 posts, and I don’t have my underwear on yet.
Consider this a TMI warning. No, seriously. I’m warning you, because getting on my underwear also deals with…
Yes, that. Two little words. A heap of embarrassment. Years of avoiding comedy clubs. It’s something most people don’t talk about. But, hey, I’ve learned a few things about managing it, and yes, I’ve been told (and told and told and told) it’s weight-related.
So here it is: I’m fat and I wear a pad every day. Not just any pad; an incontinence pad. I use the Poise pads with wings, not because I have delusions of sudden, spontaneous flight but because wrapping the “wings” around the crotch of my briefs helps keep the pad properly situated.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
What it is.
Stress incontinence is an involuntary loss of urine that occurs during physical activity, such as coughing, sneezing, laughing, or exercise. […]
Stress incontinence is a bladder storage problem in which the strength of the muscles (urethral sphincter) that help control urination is reduced. The sphincter is not able to prevent urine flow when there is increased pressure from the abdomen. – NIH
When does this tend to occur?
Risk factors for stress incontinence include:
- Being female
- Chronic coughing (such as chronic bronchitis and asthma)
- Getting older
Are there other kinds of incontinence?
Urge incontinence, aka “overactive bladder”, is the other common problem. The two can also coexist.
What can be done about it?
What I was initially told, of course, was to lose weight and do Kegels. I have since learned of other options, including medications and surgery, but at the moment I am comfortable using Kegels to improve my control and pads to deal with leakage.
I’ve also learned that bearing down a bit as I finish in the bathroom helps get that last “little bit”, which helps.
What do you mean, improve control?
I’ve improved my sphincter muscles; I rarely leak while laughing anymore. I’m also better able to tense them extra-tight before lifting a heavy object or sneezing. Basically this means I only leak if I’m taken by surprise or if coughing etc is very strong.
What sort of pads?
Currently I use Poise pads, which are built specifically to deal with leaks of this sort. Previously I used menstrual pads, but really – urine is a lot “runnier” than menstrual fluid, and the pads are built differently (video). Mostly I use the “light ultra thins with wings”, but if I have a cold, I switch to the “moderate with wings” or “maximum” sizes.
Do you carry pads with you?
I usually have a pad or two in my purse. But I often don’t need to change it, unless it’s during my period, or during the 3-4 days of “clear discharge” between my periods. Generally I wear 1 or 2 pads a day.
Doesn’t that get expensive?
Generally it’s $10/month or less. If I have a cold or otherwise am sneezing/coughing a lot, it can be double or triple that. (Also, if I have a cold/flu, I will run the shower on extra-hot while I’m in the bathroom to break up mucus. This tends to get the productive coughing “over with” while I happen to be sitting on the toilet anyway – it makes me less congested and reduces how many pads I use.)
What about your period?
If it’s a heavy day, I wear a tampon and my Poise pad. If it’s a light day, I use a Poise pad. I go through more Poise pads than usual when I have my period, but not as much as I would with menstrual pads.
Do you sleep with a pad?
I prefer to sleep in the nude, which precludes pads :) Really, it depends on how I’m feeling. If I’m sneezing or have my period, I have a bunch of soft, well-laundered washcloths by my bed that I will often fold and use at night. (The stack of clean washcloths is also useful for cleanup after more intimate moments with the man of the house. ;)
If I have a cold or flu or otherwise am coughing a lot, then I put on undies and a pad.
I don’t put off going to the bathroom. I also empty my bladder before exercising or sex.