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1 in 3 of all women according to global studies face urinary incontinence, or the sudden or accidental leak of urine in their lives.
The most common kind of incontinence faced by women is stress incontinence.
What is Stress Incontinence?
The ‘stress’ in stress incontinence stands for physical stress, or pressure. When you perform physical activities, such laughing, sneezing, running, or any activity that puts pressure on your bladder, you tend to leak a few drops of urine.
While both men and women deal with such stress related incontinence, women are twice as likely to suffer from it than men.
What Causes Stress Incontinence?
Several things can contribute to stress incontinence. The most common cause of stress incontinence in women is pregnancy and childbirth, especially multiple vaginal deliveries. But if we are talking about men alone, stress incontinence is usually caused by weakened pelvic floor muscles, often due to factors like prostate surgery or aging.
Some other causes of stress incontinence include:
- Smoking and chronic coughing
- Excessive caffeine and alcohol consumption
- Hormonal deficiencies
- Surgery of the prostate, uterus, or other pelvic organs
Stress incontinence involves leaks when doing actions such as:
- Heavy lifting
- Straining during bowel movements.
Dealing with Stress UI:
Women in India deal with incontinence privately, silently, because of the lack of information and societal stigma attached to it. Most of them choose to deny this as an issue and take about 1.5 years to seek help. This causes mental strain and damaging isolation from their loved ones.
But there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Stories from our users:
At Friends, we have the privilege of helping millions of women in India and abroad deal with urinary incontinence. These are women dealing with their first pregnancy in their 20s, women post a complex pregnancy in their 30s, women dealing with long work days and obesity in their 40s, women dealing with menopause in their 50s, and ageing women who are 60+ but still active, still determined to get the best of our life.
Whether our UltraThinz Dry Pant for Women or our Classic Dry Pant (both of which are favourites of our female customers) we make our products at our factories in Nasik, Maharashtra and Halol, Gujarat with love, innovation, and respect for the trust of 100s of our users.
Here are a few stories from our regular users. *All names changed.
"I gained weight after my pregnancy. It has been very polluted where I live, and I was coughing a lot. A little bit of urine would also flow out every time I coughed. I had heard about urinary incontinence, but I used to think it affected only older women or very obese women. I felt fat, unattractive, I smelled like a toilet... and all of this was happening alongside my post-partum depression. I cried a lot.
My gyneac was very kind to me. She told me this was a “cost of motherhood”. She told me that even young, active women, could develop stress urinary incontinence post pregnancy because birthing loosens up everything down there. She told me it wasn’t my fault, that it was a universal experience, and that it’ll go away soon.
Rekha used Friends Maternity pads to manage both her urine leaks and her postpartum bleeding. Friends Sticker Type maternity pads are extremely soft, anti-bacterial and are made of lint-free material that doesn’t stick to post-surgery stitches.
After 5 years of trying, my husband and I were finally going to become parents. Everything was going well until I reached my second trimester. That's when small amounts of urine and stains started showing up every time I sneezed, coughed or even laughed. Aai said that it happens during pregnancy. But the smell and loss of control took me to a dark place. I started questioning my decision to become a mother, had to overcome the guilt of feeling this way over something I’ve wanted for so long. Things only started getting better when I started used Friends.
Meena’s doctor handed her an UltraThinz Dry Pant on her way out for urine leaks. It is after all India’s thinnest diaper made for such stress induced leaks and can be worn for up to 6 hours without the risk of causing any rashes or irritation.
I work in customer support for a large bank, based out of Mumbai. It takes me 2 hours to get to the office. I take the bus, the metro, and then finally the local. Lately, I have started noticing that while climbing the stairs, sitting down, and sometimes lifting my work bag, I tend to pass a little urine. The first time it happened at the metro, I was so embarrased, that I went back home, hitting the stain with my bag.
But as a single mother, I can’t afford to just stay at home, I have a family to feed. A friend of mine who went through the same experience after childbirth, recommended I try using dry pant. Initially, I thought it was just a product that old people would use, but now, I never step out of the house without wearing it.
Anita chose Friends Classic Dry Pants, even though an UltraThinz would’ve been equally effective. She thought 8 hours of protection is exactly what she needs for very active and hectic lifestyle.
My menopause was not easy. Hot flashes, sleepless nights, mood swings and on top of that- urine leaks? Leaks big enough to wet my entire salwar. At first, I thought it had something to do with my fluid intake. I cut down on consuming a lot of fluids but it did not help with the leakage.
I was too embarrassed to go to a doctor but my daughter insisted I do. In that moment, I felt the world move beneath my feet. I thought this is it! I am doomed to smell and leak like a toilet. On close examination, the doctor told me that my pelvic flow had gotten weaker. Possibly because of the 3 children I birthed and the weight I gained after that. She even recommended that I use Friends Premium pants for urine and to keep a bed underpad for safety.
Richa uses Friends Premium Pants and Premium Underpads for added protection during the night. Since comfort and softness is important to her above anything else, she says Premium perfectly suits her needs.
While these stories of continence have varying origins, these ultimate questions linger in every incontinent person’s mind- “Is this my life? Do I have to live with urine leaks until my last breath?
The answer is NO. Surgical options like tension-free vaginal tape (TVT), bulking agent injections, and slings can offer added support to the urethra, managing stress incontinence by addressing the root causes of leaks during activities like coughing or lifting.
However, if you do not want anything too invasive, you can try these easy at-home fixes.
Home remedies for Stress Incontinence
- Lifestyle Changes – Avoid smoking which often causes coughing leading to urine leakage. Besides, the nicotine present in cigarettes can irritate one’s bladder muscles, which is also the case with alcohol and fizzy drinks.
- Healthy Diet - Avoid bladder irritants like spicy, acidic foods and consume more fibre rich foods like vegetables, salads, veg soups, fruits like apples, etc. which will help in weight loss and reduce constipation as strain while passing stools can worsen urine leakage.
- Weight Reduction - Being overweight increases the pressure on the pelvic muscles. Therefore, losing weight is another way to overcome stress incontinence. In many cases, losing excess weight might even solve the issue completely to a large extent.
- Exercises – People experiencing stress urinary incontinence can benefit from pelvic floor muscle training offered by skilled physiotherapists. Engaging in Kegel exercises, performed by lying down and contracting the pelvic muscles, is also effective in strengthening them. There are many devices available (in the market to electrically stimulate the pelvic floor muscles as well as relax and tighten them which goes well with physical therapy.
- Timed Voiding - Training your bladder to regain urinary control can be very helpful in managing urinary incontinence. Use the toilet at fixed intervals, retraining their bladder to function at will. Friends adult diapers can help extend bathroom breaks from every 30 minutes to every few hours by providing certain security against sudden leaks.
We understand that dealing with Urinary Incontinence can be difficult. But as we have seen over two decades, the biggest battle is acceptance. Once you have crossed that path nothing can set you back any more.
We wish you Azadi Mubarak!