Stress Urinary Incontinence is a common health condition among women, especially new mothers. It is an unintended release of urine due to the sudden pressure exerted on the bladder, as a result of sudden physical movements like coughing or sneezing. It is quite common among women during the time of pregnancy or after that, especially in the case of natural delivery.
Many women are not open to discussing their incontinence issues, due to societal restrictions. However, there are some women who have fought their battle against stress incontinence and managed to come out on top of it, with their strength unshaken.
Here are the stories of some of these women, telling us how they coped with stress urinary incontinence and why you must shrug off the accompanying shame and worry.
*Rekha, 28, Single
I was experiencing urine loss until about a year ago while coughing and sneezing. I had heard about urinary incontinence. But I thought it was a health condition affecting middle-aged and older women only, until my family doctor who prescribed me to a gynac. The specialist spent some time describing the symptoms and causes of the condition. For the first time, I realized that even young, active women, in spite of ideal body weight, could develop light stress urinary incontinence. The doctor suggested Kegel exercises to strengthen my pelvic muscles. This basically involved repeatedly tightening, releasing and relaxing these muscles. Soon I was doing one set of 10 such reps, three times a day. Within three to six weeks, my symptoms have gradually improved, which has helped to gain my confidence back.
Keeping absorbent insert pads with you is quite reassuring. Like many women, I prefer the ones with adhesive tabs, since these don’t slip.
*Meena, 27, Pregnancy
My stress urinary incontinence began in my first trimester. At first, I obviously panicked because this was something new and odd to me. So, I checked with my obstetrician. She said that stress urinary incontinence is a common discomfort associated with pregnancy. All the same, she asked me to avoid coffee, tea, fizzy drinks, citrus fruits and spicy foods. As suggested, I also started spreading out my food and fluid intake evenly, throughout the day. However, I always keep some insert pads handy. Thanks to these lifestyle changes and my timely visit to the OB/GYN, I was able to keep the leakage in check for the rest of my pregnancy.
*Shereen, 30, New mother
After the birth of my baby girl, I began to experience some urinary leakage. At first, I shrugged it off as something that’s normal post pregnancy. But when my bladder leaks continued, I panicked and went to my gynaecologist. On consultation, I was told it was stress urinary incontinence. She advised me to practice Kegels and stick to a healthy and balanced diet, for the next few months.
A lot of women think that sanitary pads are the solution; but that’s not the case at all. When it comes to SUI, you must go for insert pads. They are soft, light, comfortable and reliable.
*Anita, 36, Working mother
I work in customer support for a large bank, based out of Mumbai. The working hours are long and it’s a tough transit. Add to that, taking care of family, which is a demanding task in itself. Off late, I started noticing that every time I laugh, sneeze, or do everyday chores like lifting grocery bags, I would find myself losing urine. A family friend, who went through a similar situation, suggested that I meet her gynac. Since then, on the doctor’s advice, I have been practicing Kegels. Besides, I have made a few changes to my diet, and over time, this has helped me lose excess weight. I’m doing much better now. I remember that out of embarrassment, I didn’t want to open up to anyone about this topic initially, but I did.
Unlike in the past, women with bladder issues today don’t need to feel helpless since there are several solutions, including medication, stress incontinence pads and surgery to relieve the symptoms.
*Richa, 52, Menopause
Since reaching menopause about a few years ago, I have been losing bladder control. At first, I thought it was something to do with my fluid intake. I restricted fluids but realized it wasn’t helping. Then I consulted our family doctor. After a pelvic examination, the doctor recommended some lifestyle changes, Kegel exercises as well as medication. I also use highly absorbent insert pads. I feel a lot more relieved now. And in case, the symptoms show up again, I might consider surgery to restore normal bladder functions. But that can wait for now...
Rather than seeing stress urinary incontinence as a “normal” part of a woman’s life, I think it should be treated. And in my experience, it is something treatable.
As a first step, women must get past any hesitation and talk about their health conditions, to whoever they feel more comfortable with. As far as mothers are concerned, a daughter is the best person that mothers can talk to freely about this.
Daughters should not only familiarize themselves and their mothers with the symptoms of stress urinary incontinence, but also tell them that #ItsNotOKMom, it's a ‘Sign of Stress Incontinence’ (SOSi). And, there’s no better day to begin, than Mother’s Day!