It is important to develop a strategy to help you manage your incontinence. This may include special clothing or the use of devices that will allow you to continue with normal activities as well as any recreational activities you choose to participate in. We will review four strategies that can help you to manage your incontinence.
The first management strategy is use of a pessary device. A pessary is a small latex or silicone device, similar to a diaphragm, that you insert into your vaginal canal to give better support to your bladder and urethra. The goal is to hold your bladder and urethra in its appropriate position. This takes pressure off of your pelvic floor muscles, allowing these muscles to squeeze tight on the urethra, preventing urine leakage. Your healthcare provider can help fit you for a pessary device that is the right size and shape for optimal performance and comfort.
The second management strategy is use of a urethral plug. These plugs again can be rubber or silicone plugs that are designed to be inserted in and removed directly from your urethral opening. The goal of the many different types, sizes, and shapes of urethral plugs is the same: to temporarily block urine flow out of the urethra between bathroom breaks. You can talk to your healthcare provider to discuss different options available to you if this is a strategy you may want to use.
The third management strategy is the one most commonly used and that is absorbency products. The newest absorbency products, including absorbency pads and protective undergarments have essentially replaced the adult diaper. The newer products are more discreet because they are lower profile and are treated to control odor and minimize skin irritation. This allows more comfort for the user and greater confidence in continuing with an active lifestyle.
A fourth management strategy is wearing compression shorts, which I have mentioned in a prior blog entry. This strategy uses a common physical therapy rehabilitation principle called “proprioception.” Shorts that provide compression and support to our pelvic floor will enhance the proprioception of our pelvic floor muscles, which improves the efficiency with which the muscles will fire. Triathalon shorts are one example of compression shorts and the light biking pad in these shorts gives comfortable compression directly to the pelvic floor. These shorts can also hold an absorbency pad in place if extra protection is needed. Compression of your pelvic floor may be just what you need to get back on the hiking trail, the walking path, or back to whatever activity you love.
I recommend that you contact your healthcare provider or search the internet on “incontinence devices” for more information.