The thought of discussing sex and bladder leakage with our partners can seem like an uncomfortable and embarrassing prospect. Leakage can cause someone to lose confidence in their bodies, make them self-conscious about freshness, or cause nervousness about leaks in bed. Bladder leakage not only interferes with sexual activity but can have a significant impact on the overall relationship. In fact, in a recent CARP survey, one female member opened up about being in a loving and sexual relationship for several years and as her leaks worsened, she broke off her relationship to avoid embarrassment due to her leaks at all costs. Another male member experienced a long period of loneliness due to his unwillingness to embark on new, romantic relationships for fear of rejection.
As relationships develop and evolve, it's completely natural that some aspects may change but with open communication and honesty, the one thing that doesn't have to is your shared intimacy. Here are a few tips to help reignite the passion and allow you to live healthier, active sexual lives well into your later years.
Talk to your doctor
Embarrassment should never be a barrier to keeping us from sharing what's happening to our bodies with our physicians. It may be difficult to open up about bladder leakage or symptoms may not seem serious enough to warrant an appointment, but speaking with your healthcare professional can make a huge difference in how you live your life with bladder leakage.
To help guide your conversation and ensure you're making the most of your appointment, build a checklist of what you'd like to ask or share with your doctor. Some suggestions to start the conversation:
- Describe your symptoms and ask for information about bladder leakage
- Share how leakage has impacted your life (provide specific examples, such as challenges with physical intimacy, as well as the overall effect on your well-being)
- Ask about available management options (treatments, products, support tools)
When it comes to the topic of physical intimacy and bladder leakage, being open and honest about your concerns can help your doctor better understand your needs and inform you on what to expect during sex. Doctors are specially trained to discuss intimate topics in a professional and supportive way, so don't be afraid to ask questions or write notes.
Through education, advice and support from your doctor, you can feel empowered to make informed decisions on how to effectively manage your symptoms and help you regain the confidence to reignite the fire in your relationship.
Talk to your partner
Establishing and maintaining an open line of communication is key to having a healthy and strong relationship. Discussing bladder leakage with a partner may, at first, seem like an overwhelming obstacle, but honesty is paramount to building a strong sense of mutual trust. Opening up to your partner will not only allow you to be your best self, but will help your relationship thrive.
Start by sharing your personal experience with bladder leakage (what triggered your leaks), how it's impacting your life, and how you finally found the courage to open up and confide in your partner. This takes a lot of courage and not only will your significant other appreciate your honesty, your openness can help them empathize with you so they truly understand the condition from your perspective.
Apart from the broad-reaching effect bladder leakage can have on one's emotional and mental well-being, it's also important to equip partners with the facts so they recognize how common the condition is and most importantly, that symptoms are manageable. Here are a few key facts to share:
- Bladder leakage is a common condition that affects 3.5 million Canadians
- Men and women of all ages can experience leaks
- There are many causes, including:
- Natural changes in our bodies - enlargement of the prostate in men, or weakness of the pelvic floor muscles in women (childbirth or menopause)
- Certain medications prescribed for conditions unrelated to the urinary system
- While it can have a broad-reaching impact, it does not need to consume your life
Once your partner understands the symptoms of bladder leakage, don't wait to discuss how it can affect your physical intimacy. Have an honest discussion about how there may be some leakage during sex and discuss a course of action that you both feel comfortable about. This can help you emotionally reconnect with your partner and allow you to find a positive way forward together.
Practice Physical Management
The changing demographics of our society has meant an emphasis on research and steady advances in bladder health. That's good news because now there are practical solutions to manage bladder leakage that are widely available for both men and women. With the right products and healthier habits, you can significantly improve your quality of life.
Bladder Leakage Products
There are many innovative solutions that are tailored to your symptoms. Finding the right product for your needs can help facilitate better management and boost your confidence.
For more frequent and heavier leakage, try sleeker, more comfortable disposable undergarments like Depend® Silhouette® Briefs for Women and Depend® Real Fit® Briefs for Men. These briefs have an advanced absorbent design that helps prevent leaks and locks in odours. In addition to the superior protection, they offer a premium cotton-like breathable fabric and close-to-body, underwear-like fit so you can look and feel great in any outfit.
For lighter leakage, try Poise® Thin Shape® Pads for Women or Depend® Guards for Men. These products fit comfortably inside your underwear and move seamlessly with your body to deliver less bulk with a super-absorbent core that quickly wicks away wetness and locks in odour to give you the security you need.
Whether you're curling up on the couch together or spending a night out on the town, finding the right product can allow you to stay protected and focus on rekindling intimacy. For more information about product options and to try a free sample, visit depend.com.
These exercises strengthen the muscles that help control urination. They not only improve bladder control, but Kegels increase blood flow to sexual organs and enhance sexual pleasure - a welcome bonus to a dedicated therapeutic plan. How to do Kegel exercises:
- Locate your pelvic floor muscles by trying to stop your urine flow
- Squeeze and hold those muscles for three seconds, relax for another three seconds and repeat 10 times
- Do 3-4 sets of 10 squeezes per day, and you may begin to feel significant improvement controlling your bladder in just a few weeks
Certain foods and drinks can irritate the bladder and exacerbate leakage symptoms. The effects of various foods on bladder leakage vary from person to person and you should test different foods listed below to determine which ones affect you personally and avoid the ones that trigger your leaks.
- Caffeine and alcohol
- Acidic foods
- Artificial sweeteners
- Hot spices
- Carbonated drinks
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