Urine may not sound appealing to some people but, for others, it’s sexy as all hell.
Golden showers are regularly appreciated by quite a few individuals (either through pornography, erotica, or personal recreation), for example, and the act of urination can play strongly into sexual power plays and bodily worship.
But, as with all things, the moment that consent and bodily autonomy is removed is the moment where things become problematic, if not downright unwanted. It’s because of this that involuntary urination, even if it’s just a little leak, can cause great distress or shame for some people, and is not wanted at all.
For sufferers of urinary incontinence (UI, from now on), there may be a sense of extreme isolation or a desire to keep things a secretive as possible and simply suffer in silence.
After all, what happened when we accidentally ‘wet’ ourselves as children? What happened when we wet the bed? Usually nothing good and, sadly, the reprimanding nature that most parents instil in their children usually comes back to haunt those suffering with UI.
But the thing about UI is that it’s a rather common occurrence thought to affect millions of people. 3 to 6 million in the UK, to be precise, and roughly 25 million in the US.
There are many things that can cause UI too, and a few different variations.
Stress incontinence is one such type, and is caused when urine leaks out of the bladder at time of pressure. ‘Pressure’ might call up feelings of stress or fear (especially with the name ‘stress incontinence’) but, really, it’s more talking about physical pressure or physical stresses on the body. For example, things such as laughing or coughing too hard might cause stress incontinence, due to the pressure that it puts on the bladder.
This is probably a type of incontinence that most of us have experienced, unlike urge incontinence which is a bit more clinical. Urge incontinence happens when urine leaks out soon after an intense urge to pass urine without much prior warning and with a lack of full bladder control.
Different to this is overflow incontinence (also known as chronic urinary retention) where an individual is not able to fully empty their bladder at any given time and, thus, frequent leaks happen).
And, for some unfortunate individuals, total incontinence may also occur, when the bladder can’t store urine causing near constant leaking of fluids. This is the most extensive form of UI and is one where medical professionals will be heavily involved.
But when should one seek help for UI? And how does one get over the shame of seeing someone about something as intimate as urinary habits?
To address the second question first (as it’s a common worry) remember that most doctors are well acquainted with an array of medical conditions and routinely do everything from ear inspections to full-on anal or vaginal probes. Your urinary issues are not going to phase them.
On a more personal level, you may feel a feel of ridicule or a similarly harsh reaction but, remember, there are millions of people going through a similar situation to you. Heck, your doctor may even have issues themselves! So, you can be sure that they’ve not only treated UI patients before but have an utterly professional manner in doing so.
As for when to seek help: You can see a professional the moment that UI becomes a problem for you.
UI is so common and so disruptive to a person’s life that doctors never begrudge a visit concerning the matter.
Besides, urinating involuntarily isn’t a speculative issue – it’s a tangible problem in your life that is happening. It doesn’t require speculation as to whether or not that’s the case. If you’re peeing yourself when you don’t want to then you are 100% entitled to go and see a medical professional about the issue to seek treatment.
What Does Treatment Involve?
The treatment involved for UI depends on the severity, type, and cause of your personal incontinence.
The most common reasons for UI will typically be linked to the weakening or damage of the muscles that control urination, such as the pelvic floor muscles and the urethral sphincter, so this is typically going to dictate your treatment.
For such cases of UI pelvic floor/kegel exercises are often the recommended solution. As with any other muscle, your pelvic floor muscles will need to get buff to regain control of the flow of urine and pelvic floor exercises are the way to do this.
Some people, however, might have other reasons for their incontinence, such as obesity or a negative reaction to caffeine or alcohol. In such cases, it might be recommended that people lose weight, or restrict caffeine/alcohol use to help improve their symptoms. In some cases, this can completely treat the UI.
For UI that isn’t stress-related things get trickier and there is usually another underlying medical concern that needs to be addressed. In these cases, your doctor is the best one to figure out what the problem is and decide how to proceed.
Pelvic Floor Exercises
UI or not, most of us should be doing pelvic floor exercises, and some kegel exercising aids have even become so common place that they’ve actually become sexy.
This isn’t overly surprising, as strengthening the kegel muscles not only helps with UI issues, but can also increase sexual pleasure and control.
So, how does one perform pelvic floor (or kegel) exercises?
The easiest (and most regularly recommended) way is as follows:
-Identify your pelvic floor muscles, by trying to stop the flow of urine while in the toilet. The muscles that control this are what you’ll want to be focusing on.
-Now that you know where your pelvic floor muscles are, take time each day to sit comfortably while squeezing the muscles before releasing them soon after.
-While doing this try to keep your stomach relaxed (or you risk engaging your core muscles instead), buttocks, and thigh (for the same reason), and breathe normally if you can.
-Repeat this 10–15 times a day for a week.
-After the first week, increase the amount of these exercises, the time spent holding the muscles, and trying different variations.
-Just remember not to overdo it. The pelvic floor muscles can be overworked just like any other, and you don’t want pelvic DOMS.
If you’re worried that you won’t be able to locate the muscles alone, or that you aren’t giving them a good enough workout, then items such as kegel weights can be purchased for these exercise times (or to be worn generally for a prolonged period). Of these, the Lelo Luna Beads tend to be the most commonly recommended, due to their weight variation, silicone sleeve, and comfort during use.
For those who are really struggling a TENS-like machine can be employed, such as the Kegel8. This causes electrical jolts to create the muscle motions needed for you, so you’ll know that you’re being exercised for sure, but do lose the personal touch.
No matter the method of treatment you choose, it’s important to know that urinary incontinence (especially when stress related) is treatable and you will, in time, be able to embark upon daily life without worrying about your bladder.
Having a UI is not a point of shame and no one will treat you as flawed for your struggles. Besides, if they do then more for them – with the high rate of UI chances are that they may at some point discover why such a condition is no laughing matter.