First off, let’s clarify that LBL, or “Light Bladder Leakage” is a nice way to say urinary incontinence. LBL is a term you might hear from marketing people, but you’ll never hear it pass the lips of a continence health professional. LBL is a less scary way of discussing an uncomfortable topic. Some might say that calling incontinence “LBL” also (dangerously) normalizes peeing your pants, even just a little bit. Folks, LBL isn’t normal. Sneeze, jumping, running and coughing leaks are NOT a rite of passage for moms. They are examples of stress urinary incontinence and are a sign of a dysfunctional deep core system that begs to be addressed.
SO, we’re going to call a spade a spade. Let’s talk about urinary incontinence. It’s a big deal. It’s very common. It most often can be prevented and treated through lifestyle changes, pelvic floor and alignment exercise.
Here are some not-so-sexy stats on the issue:
• One in four women over the age of 18 experience episodes of leaking urine involuntarily.
• On average, women wait 6.5 years from the first time they experience symptoms until they obtain a diagnosis for their bladder control problem(s).
• Stress urinary incontinence, the most prevalent form of incontinence among women, affects an estimated 15 million adult women in the U.S.
• According to the Canadian Urinary Bladder Survey, 16% of men and 33% of women over the age of 40 have symptoms of urinary incontinence.
• Pregnancy, childbirth, and menopause are major reasons of the increased prevalence of incontinence in women as compared to men.
• In 1998 the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that bladder control problems affect more than 200 million people worldwide.
• The WHO also said that incontinence is a largely preventable and treatable condition and that it’s “certainly not an inevitable consequence of aging.
I was recently invited to an event hosted by Poise, a brand of Kimberly-Clark that offers a variety of products to help women live with bladder leakage. A group of two dozen or so fitness professionals and wellness bloggers participated in a fantastic yoga class, enjoyed some healthy organic smoothies and heard from celebrity Brooke Burke-Charvet talk about “seizing her Poise moment.” Brooke is a mom of 4, fitness enthusiast and an all around inspirational woman. The two of us chatted for a quite a while in the corner of the room (I think the media people were curious what the heck we were yapping about for so long). I expressed how brave I think she is for using her celebrity to open up the conversation about a somewhat taboo but critical topic. I love Brooke.
I also admitted that as a fitness professional and pelvic health expert, I was a bit anti Poise. Bladder pads and insertable “Impressa” bladder supports designed to stop leaks before they start are not getting to the root of the problem. #BandaidSolution was my rant. Poor Brooke. She was really a fantastic listener!
What about pelvic floor physiotherapy? Coaching on neurological bladder re-training? Alignment based exercise to stack posture and reclaim a neutral pelvis that will properly support your bladder, uterus and bowels? SO many ways to both prevent and treat incontinence instead of mask it.
But you know what, Brooke gets it. Poise gets that too (at first I didn’t think that they did). Their products are a step on the road to recovery. They acknowledge that pads and “bladder tampons” are NOT the solution to incontinence. If you visit their site, you’ll see they’ve created a great Advice and Support section, including a podcast interview with a pelvic health physiotherapist. Would I like to see more mention of how to naturally prevent and treat incontinence on their site? Heck yes. But you know what, it’s a start.
The conversation has started. Poise is doing a decent job in that department. Women are starting to open up about their experiences and are realizing they are not alone. There is so much power in community and in sharing. The next step is to realize that something can actually be done to fix it, and to take action.
So, if you’re reading this and leaking even a dribble (yes, that counts as incontinence) please see a pelvic physiotherapist . It’s also important not to exacerbate the problem by doing activities that increase abdominal pressure (like sit ups, crunches) or exert downward pressure on the pelvic floor (running, jumping, skipping, high-impact exercises). Using a Poise product to manage the issue while getting physiotherapy and restoring your pelvic floor and core strength, is a fantastic option. Just please, don’t throw on a liner or insert an Impressa “bladder tampon” and go for a run. True empowerment comes not from relying on a product to cope with an embarrassing issue; empowerment comes from learning how to reclaim your body and restoring your continence, and confidence.