When TENA Lady invited me along with a few other bloggers to see their latest product, I had to smile. So this is it I thought – the glamour of midlife blogging and one of life’s most embarrassing taboos – a leaky bladder. I was tempted along by the prospect of a chocolate masterclass at the Savoy but another bit of me realised this was exactly the stuff Grown Gals should write about. I’m still at the stage where leaks are minimal (when coughing for instance) but I know that many other women have it far worse.
When I arrived I realised I was a good ten years older than the others. The difference was that the other gals were mums and the chances are they’re already familiar with bladder weakness. Pregnancy leaves many a young mum reaching for incontinence pads. It’s not surprising when you think about it. The other big discovery was how much men also suffer with bladder control. When it comes to a leaky bladder the big problem is that no-one is able to talk about it. It’s one of the few remaining social taboos.
With up to half (47 per cent) of women experiencing a leaky bladder at some point in their lives* it’s a common occurrence for many, so shouldn’t be something we feel self-conscious about.
Hormones and the need to pee
The irony for midlife women is that as menstruation finally stops we find that we have to swap sanitary protection for help with the occasional urinary ‘accident’. As estrogen levels fall pelvic muscles weaken. If you put on a bit of weight this only exacerbates the problem and puts extra pressure on the urinary tract. What is important is that we find ways of taking back control so that we can continue to do the things we love.
GP Dr Hilary Jones is the TENA Lady ambassador and gives midlife women tips to help with bladder control:
1. Drink more to pee less
If you are drinking less in order to reduce the number of toilet visits you are making the situation worse. Reducing the liquid you drink makes urine more concentrated and it becomes an irritant. Drinking six to eight glasses of liquid a day and stick to water, fruit juice and herbal teas rather than caffeine, alcohol and fizzy drinks. Urine from a healthy bladder should be the colour of pale straw.
2. Keep fit inside and out
Excess body weight adds pressure to the bladder which can cause leaks. Eat well and exercise regularly to stay trim. Constipation can also put extra pressure on to the bladder so eat plenty of fibre from fresh fruit and vegetables to prevent it.
3. Use the right protection
There’s a whole range of discreet protection pads designed specifically to cope with urine. Whether you just need a panty liner for the occasional dribble to the security of pants ‘cos you just can’t hold on,’ the important thing is that you feel secure.
4. Don’t smoke
‘Smokers cough’ puts constant pressure on the pelvic floor and affects the strength of the bladder. Nicotine reduces the collagen in your bladder, as well as everywhere else, making the muscle weaker. Wrinkles, yellow teeth and a leaky bladder – if you’re still smoking over 40 you deserve all you get.
5. Perfect your pelvic floor
Pelvic floor exercises can be effective at toning up your pelvic muscles and reducing unexpected leaks, but it’s important to do them properly. Simply squeeze your pelvic muscles for a couple of seconds without holding your breath or tightening your stomach, buttock or thigh muscles. Try to visualise the pelvic muscles and isolate them in your mind. You can do this every day, almost anywhere.
TENA Lady Pants discreet
The main focus of the session was to introduce us to Tena Lady’s newly improved range of protective pants. As the close-up detail in my header image shows these are quite pretty, have a cotton-soft fabric and fit snugly like ‘briefs’ across the hips. They say they are “the brand’s most absorbent ‘underwear-like’ pants ever. A new, thinner core combines improved discretion with a secure, super-absorption zone, leaving you feeling fresh and dry all day long.”
These are designed for those who need extra protection for their leaky bladder, especially when out-and-about socialising or doing sports. Designed to be discreet whatever you choose to wear – they offer much more security than pads which can move around. For a limited time you can get a free zipped pouch with duo packs – perfect for carrying an extra pair with you ‘just in case’.
TENA Lady Pants Discreet are available in sizes medium and large and have an RRP of £3.75. The duo pack has an RRP of £6.99. You can also order a FREE sample** HERE.
* TENA Lady survey 2015, of 2,000 women in the UK
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